The Chain #47

Finished!!!!

Yes, like a toddler who has just finished doing his business but doesn’t know how to wipe his own bottom yet, I stand before you, poking my arse in your general direction, innocent eyes pleading for assistance (I must say, this analogy works loads more than I expected it to), and announcing: The Chain is back!

Yes, I thought I’d have been a bit more prolific in writing these during “lockdown” too. What do you want me to say? I’m not Cher, I can’t turn back time.

Truth be told I’ve got a little too involved with two things recently: firstly, trimming down duplicate songs on my iTunes which prevent me from updating my iPod with anything I’ve acquired in the last twelve months or so; and secondly a DJ-mixing app which I’m determined to get to grips with so you can have some proper mixes by yours truly (which I’m sure you’re absolutely crying out for).

That aside, I’ll start with a recap: last time out, we were left with this as our source record:

Donovan – Mellow Yellow

Ordinarily, the easiest way to come up with a suggestion is to link to any of the words in the title or the artiste (this isn’t a criticism, it’s how I come up with about 90% of my own suggestions), but when you’ve only got three words to work with, it makes things tricky, and some serious creativity (by which I mean showboating) is needed.

So, in terms of a running order this time around, I thought I’d work through the suggestions which link to Donovan, then to Mellow, then to Yellow, and then we’ll all crash back onto our beds as we climax with those that have drilled down a little deeper, so to speak.

But first: a spoiler. Well, two actually. Firstly, nobody suggested the next record in the actual Chain this time around, and secondly there is no Showboater of the Week award this time. Don’t get me wrong, there’s some great records about to cross your path, ingeneously reached, but nothing quite point-worthy (Does anyone know where George, the Undisputed King of Showboating, is, by the way?).

There is most definitely a Worst Record of the Week award. In fact, it’s arguably the worst record I’ve ever posted, and I’ve posted The Wurzels before now (and will do again!).

OK, so let’s kick off with the Donovan related stuff. And where better to start than with something from Rol of My Top Ten fame who seems to have become my standard person to start with, even if his first suggestion this time around was somewhat confrontational:

“Do we also lose points if we mention Jason Donovan? Surely history has been kinder to him that Coldplay?”

I should explain. I signed off the last edition of The Chain with the words: “Minus points to anyone who suggests Coldplay. You’ve been warned.” This was intended not so much as a slur against the band, even though I do think they’re absolute dog-shit (through-gritted teeth: with a couple of admittedly decent songs in their back catalogue that they’ve inadvertently stumbled upon).

Besides, I was rather surprised at Rol’s reticence to suggest a bit of Jason Donovan, given that many years ago, noting my “There’s no such thing as a guilty pleasure” tagline, he had reached out to me for a bit of support in justifying…I won’t say his love of, nor admiration, but…the fact that he quite liked some records by Erinsborough’s second finest pop star (and no, Stefan Dennis is not the first). I duly responded with a post explaining why liking Jason Donovan records is perfectly acceptable, which, since I seem to be a little short of clips and funnies this time out, included this:

Anyway, after much to-ing and fro-ing, Rol was placated by me saying I’d happily post something by the definitely-not-lemon-juice-haired-Aussie wonder, so here we go. And a further explanatory word from Rol:

“I do remember thinking Too Many Broken Hearts was a half decent pop song, even at the time (and I generally hated everything SAW did). Plus, I saw Jason in the War of the Worlds stage show a few years ago and he was much better than Marti Pellow.

Yeah, I know. That’s not saying much.”

It’s a banger, mate. Don’t fret. Chill out. You’re amongst friends here.

And if I may interject with a quote from comedian Kevin Bridges: ““Marti Pellow: the only man who had to leave Glasgow to become a heroin addict”.

Anyway, here you go:

Jason Donovan – Too Many Broken Hearts

And before you ask: no, that’s not the worst record of the week. Not by a long chalk. (Is that a phrase? ‘Tis now.)

So, who else came up with a suggestion to the word Donovan? Well, now’s the time for the fevered mind that is Rigid Digit (the man responsible for all that appears on Stuff & Nonsense), to step up to the plate with his first suggestion, which whilst it links to the Donovan name, gives us a good steer as to the waters we may well find ourselves paddling in later:

“Donovan could’ve become Father-in-Law to a Mr S Ryder from Manchester.

His daughter Oriole shacked up with Shaun, and gave birth to one of his (many) daughters.

And if it wasn’t Shaun, then Donovan’s other daughter was knocking about with Paul Ryder.

The Happy Mondays had the song “Donovan” on Pills n Thrills & Bellyaches (which also samples a bit of Sunshine Superman).

And here it is:

Happy Mondays – Donovan

That would’ve earned points had it ended with “…(which also samples a bit of Mellow Yellow)…” but as it didn’t my shiny points will remain in my silk points purse.

Whilst there were several other suggestions which linked to Donovan the person, there was only one other which linked to Donovan the name. And that was **checks notes**…erm…me:

Cornershop – Jason Donovan/Tessa Sanderson (Version)

Ok, that’ll do for Donovan/Jason Donovan links. Let’s move on to links to the word Mellow. And it’s back to Rol, who, still somewhat reticent and tail between his legs for the Jason Donovan situation, came back with this as a very strong contender:

“Mellow Birds was a particularly rank brand of Instant Coffee that was popular when we were growing up and therefore became my first experience of coffee… which I promptly decided I didn’t like much and stuck to tea. It took me years to try coffee again and see the error of my ways.

Anyway, here are two songs that link vaguely to that….”

Guy Clark – Instant Coffee Blues

Closely followed by:

eels – I Like Birds

Catchphrase time!

Wel if you’re having that, then I’m having this:

Terry Scott – I Like Birds

It was a different time, alright?

Time for a little wander off from the chosen path, I think.

Here is a prime example of a suggestion which goes the extra mile and it’s no surprise to find it’s from Rigid Digit (I promise, other people have suggested stuff):

“Donovan went to India with The Beatles, and whilst there taught Paul McCartney the claw-like finger picking techniques which Macca then adapted (because he was left-handed) and came up with…”

The Beatles – Blackbird

I imagine you will all know that McCartney was due to headline on the Saturday night at Glastonbury this year, until bloody Covid-19 ruined everything. Not that I had a ticket, mind. But as previously mentioned elsewhere on these pages, I was fortunate enough to see him there when he headlined in 2004. He played Blackbird that night, I thought at about the second or third song, but trusty songlist.fm tells me it was tenth in the set. Either way, I remember it as we all sang along, realising what a special set I was watching.

Indulge me for a moment:

Apart from all the deaths and distrust that Covid-19 has brought, I think it’s important that we remember and recognise the cultural impact too.

Anyway, where next?

Well, in case you haven’t been paying attention, we’re still on the section where we’re looking at songs which link to the word Mellow, so what else have we got?

Over to the phoenix from the flames that is The Robster, who I’m sure we can all agree we’re delighted to see has been coaxed out of semi-retirement to start posting again over at Is This The Life which currently has an angry but sad tribute to the man who wrote the song the blog is named after, Tim Smith of Cardiacs. I urge you to read it it, and if you don’t know the music of Cardiacs, follow The Robster’s suggestions. He knows his stuff.

As is more than adequately supported by this:

“Mellow? More tricky….”

Blur – Mellow Song

……is the only one I’m coming up with at the mo.”

As you will see shortly, Rob has done that age-old trick of mentioning but not really suggesting songs, knowing full well that I won’t be able to resist and will end up posting everything he utters. That was at the end of the line of a series of “Well, there’s this…but no…or this…but nah…” mentions which, true to form, will pop up later. (This is not a criticism, by the way.)

Next up is Swiss Adam from bagging area; now to be fair, this is the third of his suggestions (the others will be along shortly), hence it’s brevity:

“Mellow Gold, Beck. He’s a loser baby so why don’t you kill him?”

Beck – Loser

Get crazy with the cheese whizz! (or something similar)

So, on the subject of the word Mellow, who’s next?

** Thumbs through suggestions **

Nope, just me again.

And you can all hang your heads in shame that not one of you suggested this:

Teenage Fanclub – Mellow Doubt (Alternative Version)

Oh, and I have this one too, from an excellent compilation album I picked up a while ago, called Basement Beehive: The Girl Group Underground which I can thoroughly recommend:

The Mellow Dawns – I’m Sorry Baby

And so on to the Yellows, which is thankfully bereft of Coldplay related songs.

Let’s kick off this section with something from Nathan of Nothin’ Sez Somethin’ fame (and yes, I get that yellow is not neccesarily the link Nathan is going for here, but it works so shush!):

“So of course there’s the obvious one: Paul McCartney yelling, clapping, & giggling on Mellow Yellow, playing uncredited bass on the rest of the album…Donovan singing “Sky of blue, sea of green” on…”

The Beatles – Yellow Submarine

There’s another reason I’ve posted that next, and that’s because I figured we could all do with a ruddy good sing-a-long. I’m right, right?

Actually, that’s the first time I’ve listened to that in God knows how many years, and I had a flash-back to singing it at junior school. I, ever desperate to get a laugh out of my friends, would perform the call-back bits in the final verse, paper-and-comb-in-mouth voice and all. I remember our headmaster, face knotted in fury, stalking along the lines of children, trying to locate the source of some unexpected joy, which was not of course permitted. He never caught me (for that). But looking back, what a desperate for attention little squirt I was back then, says the man who writes a music blog in his 50s, as if he’s changed.

Over now to PhonicPat “Here we go, linking the yellow I’ve gone for a a cautionary tale for everybody…”

Frank Zappa – Don’t Eat The Yellow Snow

Next up, the gorgeous C from Sun Dried Sparrows, with another yellow suggestion, but not it’s title, oh no. She’s way too sassy for that.

Keeping it simple: first one that comes to mind is this:

Nirvana – Territorial Pissings

…because ‘if yellow is mellow…’ and it is a great song.

Indeed it is, and one filled with memories for me, for it was a song we used to perform in the band I was in at college. We loved it for it was easy to learn: three chords, a drumfill and lots of thrashing our instruments within an inch of their lives. I tried to explain that most Quo records met at least two of those criteria, but my protestations fell on ironically deaf ears.

I mention this now because there exists some recordings of us playing live, done through the mixing desk and they are, without question, hilarious, for all the wrong, unintended reasons. I’m hopeful that the lead singer can locate said tapes so I can convert them to mp3s to post here, and we can all have a jolly good laugh. Watch this space.

Carrying on with the Yellow theme for now, and I’ll hand you back to Nathan, who has a couple of ideas in this area:

“What about….”:

Yello – Bananas To The Beat

“….a two-fer….?”

Well, no, only if you count a banana as a sex toy, which I don’t, and we haven’t even got onto those sort of smutty suggestions yet. Delete your browser history immediately, young man!

He’s persistent, though, is Nathan:

“How about…”:

Yellow Magic Orchestra – Day Tripper

“…McCartney/Beatles connection…Yellow connection…vague drug reference a la “Mellow Yellow”…a three-fer?

I admire your enthusiasm Nathan, but sorry, no. The source record isn’t by McCartney or The Beatles, and as for the drug reference, well, we’ll come to that soon enough.

In the meantime, you’ll recall I mentioned earlier The Robster’s cunning plan where he names a lot of records that he isn’t suggesting, knowing full well I won’t be able to resist posting all of them. Time to revisit. Brace yourself, for here we go:

“Where do I start with this one? Yellow? Too easy..:”

Throwing Muses – Bright Yellow Gun

“…or…”

Ane Brun – Big Yellow Taxi

I’ve deliberately not picked the original of that one. Click the link and you’ll see why (it’s beautiful). And I don’t just mean because it’s not the Counting Crows version.

Anyway, as you were Robster:

” ‘…Yellow Submarine…’ ” (We’ve had that!) “…I could go on. And on and on…” (I know, I’ve read your blog (just kidding!) received emails from you extolling the virtues of Newport Town FC). “So one that some people might not know is…”

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah – The Skin Of My Yellow Country Teeth

I love that record. It makes me think of David Byrne backed by a teenage wannabe Strokes garage band and it makes me smile whenever I hear it.

If I can just let Swiss Adam squeeze another one in here, that’d be grand.

“The lead rider in the Tour de France wears the yellow jersey, the ‘mailot jeune’, and Kraftwerk did a song and then an entire about the tour:”

Kraftwerk – Tour De France

But The Robster hasn’t finished yet. Oh no. Here he comes with his link to Donovan, which should have featured ages ago but I can’t be bothered with going back and putting it in its rightful place.

Go on then Robbo, fill yer boots:

“I’m going back to brilliant cartoons. Donovan once played himself in an episode of Futurama, which has a character called Fry. The wonderful Stephen Fry (credited as Prof. Joseph Yupik) lent his voice to the title track of (the even more wonderful) Kate Bush’s 50 Words For Snow album.”

Yes, it’s almost August, but here’s a song about snow:

Kate Bush – 50 Words for Snow

Which, fortuitously, leads me nicely onto the final category: all things Donovan-trivia related and associated rudeness.

But before we go there, a couple of the more obtuse suggestions. The Chain Gang may remember that for the past two episodes, The Great Gog has been obsessed with the county of Hampshire. Now, he has a new fixation:

“We move now to Hampstead. The Mellow Yellow album features a track entitled Hampstead Incident. I can think of only two other songs that include this part of North London in their titles:

The Dream Academy – Hampstead Girl

“…and…”

Microdisney – Singer’s Hampstead Home

“(Released in 1987 and 1988 respectively – clearly a time when this area was inspiring Britain’s songwriters)”

Wise words, great mate.

Back then, before the final push, to Swiss Adam from Bagging Area:

“Husker Du, legendary indie punk pioneers covered a Donovan song, Sunshine Superman in 1983. In fairly breakneck style. I’ve just scrolled up and seen another reference to that song but not the Du’s cover. They also covered the theme to the Mary Tyler Moore Showwhich is ace but doesn’t really link to mellow or yellow.

Yeh, but it’s the kind of almost showboating that I mentioned earlier, so I’ll allow it:

Hüsker Dü – Love Is All Around

I think we left Rigid Digit mid-flow a little earlier, so perhaps we should check back in on him:

” ‘…Pills…” is probably the Mondays high point – it’s a bit of a mess after that, and the next album was a bit a a damp squib. They had it, they lost it, and Tony Wilson probably thought it was great art to fail in this manner (and drag his record company down with them). But … Shaun returned with Black Grape proving he still had it (not sure he’s got “it” now – he’s already been on the Help I’m Stuck In The Jungle, Can I Have A Career? thing on ITV, and is probably second or third reserve for a place on The One Show sofa)..”

You haven’t watched him and Bez on Celebrity Gogglabox, I’m guessing. In case there was any doubt, Bez is shown to not be the sharpest tool in the box. Not that there was much debate in this area beforehand. This is a man who is so simple he managed to get himself disqualified for cheating on Celebrity Bargain Hunt. Sadly, we will never know if he’s like he is now because of the vast amount of drugs he took in the (I hate to narrow it down, but let’s say) late 1980s to early/mid 1990s. I think we can hazard a guess. As for Shaun, for a man who claims to have given everything up, his face is a very odd shade of bright pink. It’s almost like he’s self-glazing. Neither know how to complete a sentence without liberal use of the F-word. Not that I object to this, but come on guys, just one phrase without it, please.

But I digress: here’s where Rigid was heading:

Black Grape – Kelly’s Heroes

“…that’s the next link in The Chain, shirley?”

Before we go any further, some background knowledge which you will need to have if what’s to follow is going to make any kind of sense. So have a read of this, which I have pilfered from wiki:

The song was rumoured to be about smoking dried banana skins, which was believed to be a hallucinogenic drug in the 1960s, though this aspect of bananas has since been debunked. According to Donovan’s notes, accompanying the album Donovan’s Greatest Hits, the rumour that one could get high from smoking dried banana skins was started by Country Joe McDonald in 1966, and Donovan heard the rumour three weeks before “Mellow Yellow” was released as a single. According to The Rolling Stone Illustrated Encyclopedia of Rock and Roll, he admitted later the song made reference to a vibrator; an “electrical banana” as mentioned in the lyrics. This definition was re-affirmed in an interview with NME magazine: “it’s about being cool, laid-back, and also the electrical bananas that were appearing on the scene – which were ladies’ vibrators.”

So, to be clear, I have allowed songs which relate to the smoking of illicit substances as that is generally, if inaccurately, assumed to be what the song is about, but none can acquire points. Sadly, since my Mother will be reading this and I’ll have to look her in the eye again at some point, I also have to include any suggestions linked to Lady Love Toys too.

Let’s tantrically wait a while before we submit to the buzzing suggestions which involve items of self pleasure, and we’ll hear from long time-blog faithful, but (I think) first time Chain contributor, Lynchie Fae Enburdeeen:

Donovan’s “Mellow Yellow” includes the verse:

Electrical banana Is gonna be a sudden craze

 Electrical banana Is bound to be the very next phase”

Which leads me on to the greatest marijuana songs ever written – performed by the fabulous twin lead guitar band Man, who would occasionally perform this song with a full Welsh male voice choir.

“I like to eat bananas ‘Cos they got no bones

 I like marijuana ‘Cos it gets me stoned”

Man – Bananas

As Donovan is just mad about Saffron,” pipes exp Alex G, “I’m sure he would appreciate the future Republica vocalist’s contribution to N-Joi’s rave classic ‘Anthem’.”

N-Joi – Anthem

I had, and still have, no idea if it’s true that that’s Saffron or not. It doesn’t sound like her to me. But I’m letting it in with no fact-checking because if it’s not true, then it deserves admission just for the balls-out nerve of making such a claim up.

But whilst we’re on the subject of Saffron, here’s Nathan again:

How about Saffron – singer for Republica…Republica doing…:

Republica – Get Off

And so we land on the Mum-non-friendly bit with another suggestion from Nathan to get..er…our juices going:

“…Electrical Banana – slang for electric vibrator [yes, we know!]…The Vibrators doing…”

The Vibrators – Electricity

Well, if you’re having that then – all together now – then I’m having this:

Suede – Electricity

Next, I’ll hand the reins to Alyson from What’s It All About?:

“During these days of lockdown I’ve been threatening to get my guitar down from the loft and serenade the neighbours. Problem is I only ever got to song number two in my “Teach Yourself Guitar” book, which was (I’ll get to the point trust me) Catch The Wind by Donovan. For years I used to mix up that song and his other one Colours, to come up with Colours Of The Wind which is an entirely different affair from the Disney film Pocahontas, but the next song certainly won’t be that one.

As a follow up I’m going to go for Worst Song suggestion – Donovan also recorded Sunshine Superman. Superman was the name of a novelty record by Black Lace which had been originally recorded by two Italians with the title Gioca Jouer. To quote from wiki: ‘The song featured a number of dance gestures that acted out the lyrics – including sleeping, waving, hitching a ride, sneezing, walking, swimming, skiing, spraying deodorant, sounding a horn, ringing a bell, flexing muscles as a “Macho Man”, making the letters “OK”, blowing kisses, combing and flying like Superman.‘”

Brace yourself. This is unspeakably awful, and fully deserving of the only points I’m dishing out this time for Worst Record:

Black Lace – Superman

Oh God, somebody make it stop, please!

It’s alright for you lot, you can choose not to click the link and listen to it. I had to actively seek that out and listen to it when uploading it.

I may well get bored during the lockdown but not so bored I’m going to resort to the Superman dance (I hope),” Alyson concludes, like that makes what she’s just inflicted on us ok.

“Now that Alyson has taken us down the Superman route,” pipes up Charity Chic, “I’m going for:…”

The Flaming Lips – Waitin’ For A Superman

Turns out, that’s quite the palatte cleanser.

I may as well chuck in another one; this was the weirdest record I’d ever heard when I was a kid:

Laurie Anderson – O Superman

Last couple of suggestions now and since I’ve allowed Alyson and Charity Chic’s suggestions, I may as well let this from PhonicPat in too:

“To follow the Donovan link, The Butthole Surfers did a cracking version of Hurdy Gurdy Man…”

They did indeed, and here it is:

Butthole Surfers – The Hurdy Gurdy Man

And finally, one last one from PhonicPat:

“Picking up on your Coldplay warning how about…”

Mitch Benn & The Distractions – Everything Sounds Like Coldplay Now

Which is pretty much where we came in, I think.

All that leaves is for me to tell you that the next official record in The Chain is this:

U2 – Beautiful Day

…which was selected because Donovan and Bono share a birthday.

I know. Rubbish, right?

Anyway, you know the drill: submit your suggestions for songs that link to Beuatiful Day by U2 via the Comments section below, or by email to dubioustaste26@gmail.com and eventually I’ll get round to writing the next instalment.

More soon.

Strings on Sunday

In a week when the UK has been battered by Storm Eleanor (the lids on my bins were blown open (not a euphemism), I’m not sure we can ever rebuild), this seems appropriate:

Cloudbusting Front

Kate Bush – Cloudbusting (The Organon Mix)

If you don’t love that, then I’m sorry to report you’re already dead inside.

More soon.

The Chain #22

Evening Chain Gang!

So, so much to get through this week, so I’ll assume you all know what we do here, and will dive straight in.

Last week’s records was “Inbetweener” by Sleeper, and the suggestions for records that link to that came in thick and fast. Now, I know I swore off fiddling around with the order last week, but as it turned out, this week there were several suggestions which followed similar themes so I thought I’d try to group those together, interspersed with the remaining ones.

And so to kick things off this week, here’s The Swede from Unthought of, though, somehow which just happened to be the first one I received:

“Louise Wener of Sleeper published an autobiography in 2010 entitled ‘Different For Girls’. ‘It’s Different For Girls’ is the title of a rather splendid Joe Jackson song.”

It most certainly is, and you need proof, here you are:

joejacksonitsdifferentforgirls-ps567230

Joe Jackson – It’s Different For Girls

Wener’s post-Sleeper career has largely been based upon her writing skills; not only has she written that aforementioned autobiography, but she’s written several works of fiction too. Which made me think of this record, which contains my favourite mop-top guitar riff:

the-beatles-paperback-writer-1966-19

The Beatles – Paperback Writer

Having hit on the novel idea (see what I did there?) of featuring songs about authors, this one sprang to mind:

morrissey_-_southpaw_grammar_-_front

Morrissey – Reader Meet Author

Don’t worry, it’s not all bout me this week! But “Reader Meet Author” leads us nicely on to SWC from When You Can’t Remember Anything‘s first nomination of the day:

“I once got stuck in a lift with Louise Wener AND the keyboardist from The Wannadies. There is no link here unless you want to post ‘Hit’ by The Wannadies, in all of its two minute brilliance?”

Of course I want to post that! It was going to feature in a future unrelated post, but I’m not adverse to posting the same song more than once, and I can always postpone that one:

thewannadieshit83555

The Wannadies – Hit

Moving further away from Wener’s writing prowess and SWC’s stalker tendencies (I’m sure he’ll claim it was a work-related incident, though), here’s Charity Chic from Charity Chic Music:

“A sleeper is a train that transports you through the night – if you were to get a Midnight Train to Georgia like Gladys Knight and the Pips, chances are it would be a sleeper.”

Can’t fault your logic, there CC:

gladys-knight-and-the-pips-midnight-train-to-georgia-buddah-5

Gladys Knight & The Pips – Midnight Train to Georgia

Whenever I hear the name Gladys Knight & The Pips, I always think of Geordie adult comic Viz, to the snappily titled “The Viz Book of Crap Jokes: A Pitiful Array of Poor Quality Jokes from the pages of Viz” which I used to own but which seems to have got mislaid on one of my many house-moves over the years, and particularly to this, which young folks who’ve never had to use a public phone probably won’t understand:

irvaybls

Now, can we all give a warm Chain Gang welcome to the first of many new contributors who’ve been in touch this week. Here, from his frankly quite wonderful blog Is This The Life? is The Robster:

“I was going to suggest It’s Different For Girls until Swede beat me to it. So instead I thought about Louise’s first novel ‘Goodnight Steve McQueen’ which led me to the Prefab Sprout album ‘Steve McQueen’. But I never liked Prefab Sprout (a heretical remark in some quarters, but I stand by it) [In which case, we’ll skip playing anything by them – Chain Ed]. “There was also a book she wrote called ‘Just For One Day’ about Britpop which is as good an excuse as you could ask for to include some Bowie.”

290982151624

David Bowie – Heroes

The Robster continues: “Then I went down the sleeping route: Sleep by Godspeed You! Black Emperor would be a good one, but you probably don’t want to post a 23-minute instrumental, do you?”

Challenge accepted!

cst012hires

Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Sleep

“So I ended up plumping for The Dreaming by Kate Bush. ‘Cause you dream when you sleep, right?” he concludes.

And quite a lot of the time when I’m awake, if I’m perfectly honest.

the_dreaming_single

Kate Bush – The Dreaming

Okay folks, brace yourselves. It’s become a bit of a tradition here on The Chain that we feature at least one cringe-worthy song every week. Not because we necessarily like it, but because…well, did you ever hear that quote, which I had always thought was attributed to mountaineer Chris Bonnington, that goes “Q: Why do you want to climb that mountain? A: Because it’s there.”? (A quick internet search tells me that it was actually first said by George Mallory, an English schoolteacher and mountaineer, born 1886, died 1924 trying to errm….climb Mount Everest. Not so smug now, eh, Mallory, old bean?) I digress – it’s the same principal here. So, babylotti, why did you recommend this record? Because you could. Or, as you put it:

“Inbetweener conjures one song up for me immediately. It’s that excruciating dance scene in the Inbetweeners film where they ‘move’ across the dancefloor to ‘We No Speak Americano’ that’s my suggestion, right there. Sorry.

No need to apologise, babylotti!

sweatds026

Yolanda Be Cool – We No Speak Americano (Radio Edit)

And just in case you don’t know the scene babylotti is referring to:

Which leads us rather neatly on to the next suggestion, and can we have a warm Chain Gang welcome to The Beard, who does not appear to be the biggest fan of the show which gave us such phrases as “Bus Stop Wankers!”, “Bum-der” and “Clunge” (I advertently described a cheesecake at a recent party as “looking a bit clungey”, not realising what that meant until the words were already out there. I am free to host the Great British Bake Off, in case anyone on C4 is interested).

Anyway, here’s The Beard’s suggestion:

“The plural of Inbetweener is Inbetweeners. The Inbetweeners was a mildly-amusing-but-quickly-lost-its-charm comedy. One of the protagonists was called Jay. A more famous Jay is Jam Master Jay. ‘Here We Go (Live At The Funhouse)’ by his band, Run DMC, is ridiculously good.”

It certainly is:

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Run DMC – Here We Go (Live At The Funhouse)

Since we’re on a rap/hip-hop vibe, here’s Rol from My Top Ten:

“Literal link again: the only song I have in my collection with Sleeper in the title is Nightbus Sleepers by Dan le Sac Vs. Scroobius Pip. Not usually my bag, musically, but I love Scroobius Pip’s rambling rhymes”.

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Dan Le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip – Nightbus Sleepers

Seems a bit quiet around here without George this week, doesn’t it? Time to rectify that, with more of his Tottenham Hotspur links:

“Sleeper is a film by Woody Allen. Dave Allen was in the Gang of Four, leading to Dave Mackay of Tottenham Hotspur (their finest ever midfielder), leading to Andy Mackay of Roxy Music, and Ladytron.”

roxy

Roxy Music – Ladytron

Time to welcome back Alyson from What’s It All About, Alfie?

“At the risk of looking as if I am stalking George by copying everything he comes up with (it’s all a coincidence honestly) [I knew it! You might call it stalking, we call it spying! – Chain Ed] my first thought was also that Woody Allen was in a film called Sleeper with one-time partner Diane Keaton, but we all know that Woody also had a long-term relationship with Mia Farrow. [Phew! I wondered where you might be going with that for a moment there. I was dusting off the word ‘allegedly’ ready for quick insertion – Legal Ed] Now Mia was once married to Frank Sinatra so I could go down that route but instead, in the interests of championing the Guilty Pleasure tagline yet again, I will go down another route. Ms Farrow starred in the excellent film Rosemary’s Baby and back in 1970 Edison Lighthouse did really well with Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes) – I think the brackets are important!”

Anyone whose services as the resident pop nerdo boffin in pub quiz team will know how invaluable knowing where the brackets go in a pop song title is. My favourite one that catches people out is Heaven 17’s “…(And That’s No Lie)” which you’ll note quite literally has no words that aren’t in brackets.

Anyway, here’s 1970s not Guilty at all Pleasure:

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Edison Lighthouse – Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)

Time for a warm welcome to the third of our new contributors this week, which comes from within Alyson’s sleeper cell humble abode:

Don’t know if my other half is allowed to join in but out of interest his suggestion probably falls into the Guilty Pleasure category also and it’s The Gambler by Kenny Rogers – The opening few lines being relevant to a) Sleeper trains b) Being too tired to sleep c) Railway lines are laid on sleepers.”

Tick, tick, tick, as The Hives once said, as did the nit nurse at my Junior School (although The Hives also added the word “Boom!”).

I’ve digressed again. Here’s King Kenny (no, not that one. Or that one. This one):

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Kenny Rogers – The Gambler

If you didn’t catch Kenny Rogers’ Sunday Afternoon Legends slot at Glastonbury back in 2013, you can see it here. Well worth a look, in my book.

Anyway, before I forget, a warm Chain Gang welcome to Alyson’s other half, Jamie.

Now, as they say, for something completely different, and to my final suggestion for this week. “Inbetweener” comes from Sleeper’s debut album, “Smart”. Smart is a word which has several different meanings: Well dressed (The Great Gog will expand on this in a moment); to be in pain (as in “Ouch, that smarts a bit”), or to be clever.

If you’re the opposite of clever, then you could easily be described as intellectually-challenged, or just plain stupid. That’s S-T-U-P-I-D:

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Sultans of Ping F.C. – Stupid Kid

Since I’ve just mentioned him, here’s The Great Gog:

“One can be said to be smart if one is wearing one’s Sunday best. Off the top of my head, the only song I can think of that references Sunday best is The Icicle Works’ “Who Do You Want For Your Love”, in its second line. And it’s a particular favourite of mine.”

Not one I was overly familiar with before getting your suggestion (I really don’t know how this one passed me by, to be honest), but it’s fast becoming one of mine too:

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The Icicle Works – Who Do You Want For Your Love?

A suggestion which coaxed The Swede back for a second stab:

“I’ve now got Elvis Costello’s ‘Sunday’s Best’ as an earworm, a song that’s as relevant today as it was in 1979, if not more so. It also contains the line ‘…Sleepy towns and sleeper trains….’, so can be designated a double-linker!”…

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Elvis Costello & The Attractions – Sunday’s Best

…which in turn caused ructions with The Great Gog’s working day:

“Whilst staring at an increasingly confusing spreadsheet at work, I’ve just remembered that Madness’ “Our House” makes mention of Sunday best. Needless to say, it is currently ear-worming…”

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Madness – Our House

Right, hold on chaps. Seems it’s you guys that are digressing now. Quick, we need another suggestion to break us out of this Chain Reaction.

Up to the plate steps Badger, also from When You Can’t Remember Anything:

“I was once in the audience of Jools Holland, it was a Hootenanny special (filmed in August) but one of the acts there was Audioweb who performed their minor hit ‘Sleeper’ – they had more chart success with their ragga indie version of ‘Bankrobber’.”

As it’s a Clash cover, let’s dedicate this one to George:

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Audioweb – Bankrobber

“As my obligatory second option”, Badger continues,”another song on the debut Sleeper album was ‘Lady Love Your Countryside’ which was a slight piss-take of supposed political rebels S*M*A*S*H and their ‘feminist anthem’ ‘Lady Love Your C___’ who actually turned out to be posho college boys. Either way ‘I Want to (Kill Somebody)’ was a great three minutes of Tory baiting”:

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S*M*A*S*H* – (I Want to) Kill Somebody

Now, since Audioweb have been mentioned, here’s Swiss Adam from Bagging Area:

“Sleeper was a song by mid 90s Manchester dub/rock/electronic and Audioweb, an actually pretty good piece of mid 90s music. The 12″ came with not 1, but 2, Andrew Weatherall mixes.”

Now these are mixes which I did not own. But fear not, I thought: Swiss is renowned for being a bit of a Weatherall nut, so I figured I’d just pop over to his blog, type Audioweb into the Search function, and get them from him, only to be met with the following message when I did:

“No posts matching the query: audioweb”

Gah!

Anyway, I managed to track down the following two mixes. I’ve no idea if one, or the other, or both for that matter, are in any way Weatherall related (although they both sound pretty similar to these ears…)

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Audioweb – Sleeper (Emissions No. 5)

Audioweb – Sleeper (Sleepless In Balham)

Okay, time for Comment Showboat of the week, which undoubtedly goes to Dirk from sexyloser. I’d get comfy, if I were you:

“A ‘sleeper’ these days is of course not only a person, who, like you and me do, goes to bed in the evening and, well, sleeps. No, a sleeper is a spy planted in advance for future use, but not currently active (not necessarily a terrorist, back in the golden days of the cold war we just had spies, you know, for younger readers, all harmless stuff!). This may be hard to believe, but fear not: there is a movie which might shows it all: ‘Salt’. In it, Angelina Jolie plays Evelyn Salt, who is accused of being a Russian sleeper agent and goes on the run to try to clear her name.

Now, as you might or might not know, Angelina Jolie announced that she and Brad Pitt go ‘different ways’ from now on, a divorce will come soon, I’m afraid. Very sorry to hear this, and I would just l.o.v.e. to help Angelina in those difficult times of misery, but I fear that Mrs Loser would have severe objections against my noble offerings. So, Angelina, the only advice I can give you currently, is to see your future positively and to sing along loudly to Huey ‘Piano’ Smith & His Clowns’ ‘Free, Single And Disengaged’: a neat song indeed and, coincidently , my tip for this week’s ‘Chain’.

Ah, well …”

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Huey ‘Piano’ Smith & His Clowns – Free, Single and Disengaged

PS – Angelina, if you’re reading this, there is no current Mrs Jez, and you seem exactly the sort of headcase that some of my ex-girlfriends were clearly readying me for. Call me, maybe?

Sticking with the Cold War/Spy angle, here’s Alex G from We Will Have Salad:

“OK, other people have done railways and spies. So let’s combine the two, and what springs to my mind is James Bond getting into a bit of a scuffle in “From Russia With Love”. As it happens, I have a soft spot for Matt Monro, so let’s hear him singing the title song from said movie.”

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Matt Monro – From Russia With Love

You’d have to be pretty annoyed if you were Matt Monro. Your most famous record (as far as I know, feel free to provide alternatives) and you don’t even get to feature on the sleeve. Such is life.

Now a warm Chain Gang welcome back to Kay, who continues the theme:

“Sleeper made me think of a sleeper cell – cold war, John Le Carre novels, Russia etc ….then Russia made me think of Babushka by Kate Bush”:

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Kate Bush – Babooshka

Which just leaves us with George’s second suggestion, and for what I think is for the fourth time on the trot, it’s related to Tottenham Hotspur:

“In Sleeper, the singer was Louise Wener. Louise was/is the name of a pop-singer who is married to footballer Jamie Redknapp, son of former Tottenham Hotspur manager Harry Redknapp, who signed Dutch footballer Rafael van der Vaart. And speaking of things Dutch leads to prog-flute band Focus, and their song House of the King. a splendid pop prog song with flute-ing and hand-clapping.”

My knowledge of Focus, I thought, began and ended with “Hocus Pocus”, until I heard this and recognised it as the theme tune to Steve Coogan’s BBC comedy series “Saxondale”, so truly thanks for pointing me in its direction (don’t let the word “prog” put you off, George is right, this really is splendid):

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Focus – House Of The King

And that’s it for another week. Of course, none of us guessed the official link to the official record, which I’ll have to concede is a better link than usual, if still not a patch on any of ours:

“…From Sleeper – part of an earring – to a hit from Dutch band Golden Earring…”:

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22. Golden Earring – Radar Love

(Relax ladies: all of the members of Focus and Golden Earring are either married or dead).

So: let’s be having your nominations for records which link to “Radar Love” by Golden Earring”, along with your explanation of how you got to it, via the Comments section below, in time for me to source and write this by the same time next week.

See you then, Chainies!

(More soon)

How To Do A Cover Version

Continuing the theme, and a further attempt to prove that I don’t just throw this stuff together (although, to be honest, that’s pretty much exactly what I do), here’s some covers of Kate Bush songs that I think are pretty good.

Still, none as good as the originals, of course, but pretty good nonetheless.

Let’s get the obvious one out of the way:

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The Futureheads – Hounds Of Love

When I saw them on the NME Tour I mentioned in my last post, they played this, and split the crowd into two, encouraging each half to sing-a-long with a different backing vocal part (most evident at the very start of their version), in a pantomime audience style. Great fun.

Compare and contrast with the original:

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Kate Bush – Hounds Of Love

Next up, a cover which I have no idea how I have come to own, partly since it’s by a Romanian-German singer/songwriter (not a pool of music in which I usually paddle), but mostly because the missing “i” from her name really irks me.

I quite like this though, in a kinda sub-Lily Allen/Mark Ronson kinda way:

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Miss Platnum – Babooshka

Here’s the original, and I think Kate had got new art directors in for her single sleeves post-“The Man With The Child in His Eyes”:

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Kate Bush – Babooshka

Last, but by no means least, lifted from his “Distraction Pieces” album, and performed by the reliably brilliant Scroobius Pip, sans regular collaborator Dan Le Sac, but avec Natasha Fox, of whom I know nothing:

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Scroobius Pip feat. Natasha Fox – Feel It

And, here’s the original, from Kate Bush’s debut album:

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Kate Bush – Feel It

Let me round things off by pointing you in the direction of the Blogroll list on the left, and particularly to the link to a blog with the same name as those last two tunes. Written by Darcy, it’s a great blog crammed with predominantly soul and disco tunes, the majority of which are (great, and) new to these old ears. Darcy’s gone a bit quiet recently, so hopefully a few more visitors might spark him back into life again.

More soon.

How Not to Do a Cover Version

BBC4 on a Friday night is generally a wonderful channel for music fans to watch, and last night was no exception, mostly because they showed their “Kate Bush at the BBC” show, a load of clips of…erm…Kate’s performances on the BBC. If you missed it, I’d heartily recommend catching it on th’iPlayer whilst you can.

As I watched it, it occurred to me that for someone so revered as she is, I could think of very few examples of people covering her songs well. I’d like to think that’s because most musicians release that you can’t improve on perfection.

Some people, however, have had a go. I’d like to say with varying degrees of success, but that would be generous, and anyone who knows me knows that’s not a quality of possess in abundance.

So let’s have a round-up of the not very good ones.

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White Flag – Wuthering Heights

I own this on the above compilation album, but don’t be fooled by the “…Performed By Today’s Stars” tag-line. This was released in 1992, so no longer “Today” and I think an album containing cover versions by, amongst others, Erectus Monotone, Hypnolovewheel and Chia Pet is stretching the notion of “Stars” to its knicker elastic-twanging limit. It does however have tracks by Sonic Youth, Mudhoney, Redd Kross, Superchunk and The Connells so there’s much to recommend it (and I will doubtless post much more from it in the future), just not this particular cover version.

There’s nothing to recommend this one, either, as it goes:

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China Drum – Wuthering Heights

Louder is not always better, guys. Especially not when you place it right next to the simply breath-taking original:

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 Kate Bush – Wuthering Heights

I have a lot of time for certain records by Placebo. Just not this one, which arrived on a bonus disc of covers, called “Covers” (inspirational out-of-the-box thinking by whoever came up with the title, by the way), available with their 2003 album “Sleeping With Ghosts”:

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Placebo – Running Up That Hill

…which, isn’t awful, it just isn’t a patch on the original:

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Kate Bush – Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)

But I’m saving the worst for last.

Regular readers will now how little I care for cover versions where a shuffly Soul II Soul-esque dance beat (and yes, I realise that using the phrase “dance beat” makes me sound like a granddad) is added in the hope of making something sound contemporary (see my previous posts about Tin Tin Out), but that is exactly what Inside Moves (nope, me neither) did:

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Inside Moves – The Man With The Child In His Eyes

But even that pales into insignificance when compared with the next version of the same song, which originally appeared on their “Violently EP”, but which I own on the group’s “Best Of” album:

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Hue and Cry – The Man With the Child in His Eyes

I honestly don’t know what riles me so much about that version; on face value it’s a fairly faithful cover. I have nothing against Hue and Cry in general; as I’ve mentioned before “Labour of Love” is one of my favourite records not just from the 80s but ever. Maybe it’s the needless change of perspective, from “I” to “You”; maybe it’s the unnecessary oversinging “na-na-na-na-na-na” bits. I dunno.

Let’s cleanse the palate.

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Kate Bush – The Man With The Child In His Eyes

Speaking of awful covers, that’s a pretty poor, far to literal sleeve, isn’t it?

More soon.

It’s Chriiiistmas!!!

Of course, it was only a couple of weeks ago that I mentioned I was reluctant to do any posts involving Christmas songs. My how times have changed.

There was a reason for this, other than thinking you’d all be sick of hearing Christmas songs by now. Let me take you back a few years.

I was still sharing a flat with Hel, and she, along with our two other flatmates (I say two, I actually mean one other official flatmate and his girlfriend who practically moved in on the same day as he did) suggested we had a Friday night in, just the four of us (so I’m reluctant to call it a House Party, although that’s exactly what it was) and they asked me to do a Christmas playlist to last the night.

I spent the next few weeks finding songs to fill a few hours, my idea to be structure them into sequences of three or four upbeat cheerful ones to have a bit of a dance to, then a slower one or two for us to sit down, catch our breaths, and of course, have a ciggie. And more booze.

Alas, time caught up with me, and I didn’t have chance to fashion them into any kind of order, so I elected to simply put the playlist on shuffle and hope for the best.

You can guess what happened next. My iPod decided to get the ratios the wrong way round, merrily skipping to six or seven slow, depressing Christmas plodders in a row, then chucking in Shaky’s “Merry Christmas Everyone” to lull us into a false sense of security, before reverting back to the death dirges again.

Needless to say, it was not the joyous Christmas knees-up that had been requested. I think we were all in bed by 10.30.

Well, they say that what doesn’t break you makes you stronger, so I thought I’d post a few of the less cheerful songs today, just to temper those Christmas spirits, you understand.

First up, breathy songstress Isobel Campbell and gravel-throated Mark Lanegan, from their excellent third album “Hawk”:

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Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan – Time of the Season

Next up, a slightly more upbeat track by an actual couple (at the time anyway, I’ve no idea whether they still are) from what is one of my favourite Christmas albums of recent years:

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Emmy the Great & Tim Wheeler – Home for the Holidays

Could that sleeve be any more twee indie?

A few songs by female artistes now, and taken from her breakthrough album “I Speak Because I Can” (I call it her breakthrough album partly because it was the first thing I ever heard by her, but also because by now she had ditched Mumford & Sons, who I seem to remember used to be her backing band at some point, but I’m buggered if I can find any reference to this anywhere, so maybe I dreamt it):

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Laura Marling – Goodbye England (Covered In Snow)

Moving swiftly on, here’s a bona fide female icon performing a rather over-looked single. Released back in 1980, shortly after her second album “Never for Ever”, I think I had managed to completely avoid hearing this until one of those Top of the Pops 2 Christmas Specials came on last year. You know the kind of thing, where Steve Wright, or more latterly Mark Radcliffe, make super lame jokes about the clip he’s introducing. Whoever would do such a thing? (*coughs…looks guiltily around*)  Needless to say, it’s an absolute joy:

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Kate Bush – December Will Be Magic Again

A word of warning. When I was searching for the sleeve for that single, I actually mistyped her name, writing Hate Bush by mistake. Let me tell you, that brings up a whole different set of search results than I had been expecting, only about 2% of which referred to the former US President.

Mind you, “Hate Bush” would be an excellent slogan for a t-shirt, like those “Brian Maiden” ones which were doing the rounds a few years ago. Does me typing it here count as my having copyrighted it?

(Why do I think there was one of those t-shirts about Motorhead too…? Ah yes, a certain someone I know once got Iron Maiden and Motorhead mixed up and accidentally referred to them as “Maidenhead”. Pffft! You know who you are!)

Anyway, you want iconic female singers doing slightly unhappy songs about Christmas? Well, you came to the right place, I got ’em. How about some nice Joni Mitchell:

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Joni Mitchell – River

Actually, I have a confession to make about that choice: I was rather hoping I’d be able to track down Michael Ball’s version somewhere, but have had no joy. Ho Hum. There’s always next year.

Anyway, never mind that its opening melody is “Jingle Bells” in a minor key and that the lyrics begin with a seasonal scene: “It’s coming on Christmas, they’re cutting down trees/They’re putting up reindeer, singing songs of joy and peace.” Ultimately, “River” is a bereft song about a broken romance and a woman who desperately wants to escape her heartbreak, saying repeatedly: “I wish I had a river I could skate away on.”

Well Joni, this must be your lucky day!

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Smith & Burrows -When The Thames Froze

For the unitiated, that’s Tom Smith – lead singer from Editors – and Andy Burrows who you will no doubt recognise as being the drummer from Razorlight (and now of We Are Scientists, apparently). So, proper indie royalty then (*ahem*)

Speaking of Indie Royalty, hands up who remembers this lot? Pretty huge a little while back weren’t they?

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The Killers – Boots

Three to go for today, two of which are from artists that I have banged on about an awful lot on these pages. Firstly it’s Gruff Rhys, lead singer of Super Furry Animals, from his bloody-wonderful-but-then-I-would-say-that-wouldn’t-I? “Atheist Xmas EP”:

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Gruff Rhys – Post-Apocalypse Christmas

Think yourself lucky I didn’t post (and I shit you not, I haven’t made this up) “Slashed Wrists This Christmas” from the same EP. Still brilliant, but maybe a little too dark for tonight’s post.

Instead, something which could quite easily have cropped up in my “From Leeds With Love” series, had I actually been arsed to write any of them for a while; yes, it’s The Wedding Present covering Sir Elton:

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The Wedding Present – Step Into Christmas

And lastly for today, before you get all cheerful again, this, two minutes of a newscaster reading horrible headlines about how terrible everything is whilst the evil ones from The Detectorists sing “Silent Night” in the background:

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Simon & Garfunkel – 7 O’Clock News/Silent Night

Now, tomorrow is Christmas Eve, and I’ll be travelling home to spend Christmas with my parents, so there may, or may not, be a post-tomorrow, depending on whether I get all of the things done in time that I need to. Which you could take to be a cover story to obscure the fact that I am actually Father Christmas. You might think that, I couldn’t possibly comment.

More soon.