How To Do A Cover Version

The rules I have in my head as to what does and what does not constitute a good cover version exist only in my head, are completely arbitrary, and subject to change.

It’s my game, I’ll do what I like with it.

For example, I’m fairly sure that I’ve previously argued on these pages that there’s no point in just making a cover which sounds exactly like the original. If you want everyone to know you really like a particular song or artiste, just make sure you bring it up in an interview sometime, don’t bother us with a dutifully faithful replication.

And yet…

Glastonbury 2004, I think. Our sizeable gang has landed in what became our usual rendez-vous position at the Pyramid Stage: right at the back, top of the slope, near the First Aid tent. We hadn’t planned on this being our staging post, but this is where, attending for the very first time the year before, we had ended up at the start of the first day, so it just became “our spot”. Plus, one of our group, Mark, was really tall, so this made him even easier to pick out in a crowd.

(I’m reminded of comedian, actor and human beanpole Steven Merchant relating a story about how once, as a much younger man, he had found himself standing with some friends in a similar crowd. As he stood, he noticed a couple of very pretty girls looking in his direction. Eventually, they approached him.

“Excuse me,” they said.

“Hello,” he thought. “I could be ‘in’ here.”

“Hi,” he said, as casually as he could muster.

“Are you going to be here for a while?” they asked.

Oh, yes, you bet I am,” he thought.

“Yeh, I think so,” he replied, coolly. “Why do you ask?”

“Oh,” the girls replied, “me and my friends have just decided that if we got separated, we’d meet up near you, but if you’re going to move, we need to think of something else.”)

But I digress. On this Saturday afternoon, most of our group had gone a-wandering, and just Hel and I remained at base camp. We sat, people watching in between acts, the sound system booming out an advertisement for a clean water charity the festival was supporting that year, followed by You Only Get What You Give by The New Radicals.

These two seemed to be on a continuous loop, so when a different song came on, it caught both of our attentions. The song was a couple of lines in, when I let out a satisfied sigh.

“Ahh, I love this record,” I said.

“Me too”, Hel replied. A moment passed before a confused look played across her face. “But I can’t remember who sings it.”

Another couple more lines passed. “Me neither,” I conceded.

And then it came to me.

“Tracey Ullman!” I squealed.

“Yes!” Hel agreed, “Tracey Ullman!! Of course!!”

We rested back on our laurels.

A few more moments passed before I sat bolt upright again.

“Is it heck Tracey Ullman!” I exclaimed. “It’s Kirsty MacColl!!”

“Oh, God, yes!” Hel agreed, “Kirsty MacColl!! Of course!!”

“Let’s never speak of this error again,” suggested Hel.

“Agreed,” I said.

With my fingers crossed.

More soon.

Remembering Kirsty

It was twenty years ago today, as the song almost goes, that we were robbed of one of the most wonderful musical talents the UK has ever produced: Kirsty MacColl.

Every year (provided I remember in time) I try to post something by Kirsty to remember her by. Here’s what I wrote the first time I wrote one of these posts:

In case you don’t know the story of her untimely demise, on 18 December 2000 she and her sons were on holiday in Mexico, and went diving in a designated diving area at the Chankanaab reef, that watercraft were restricted from entering. As the group were surfacing from a dive, a high-speed powerboat entered the area. Kirsty saw the boat coming before her sons did; Jamie (then 15) was in its path but Kirsty was able to push him out of the way. Tragically, in doing so she was struck by the boat and died instantly.

The powerboat involved in the accident was owned by Guillermo González Nova, multimillionaire president of the Comercial Mexicana supermarket chain, who was on board with members of his family. One of his employees, boat-hand José Cen Yam, stated that he was in control of the boat at the time of the incident. He was found guilty of culpable homicide and was sentenced to 2 years 10 months in prison. However, under Mexican law he was allowed to pay a punitive fine of 1,034 pesos (about £61) in lieu of the prison sentence. He was also ordered to pay approximately £1,425.22 in restitution to Kirsty’s family, an amount based on his wages.

To add insult to quite literal injury, eyewitnesses contradict Cen Yam’s claim that he was in control of the speedboat, and people who have spoken to him since say that he has admitted to receiving money – presumably from Nova – for taking the blame.

In May 2006, Emilio Cortez Ramírez, a federal prosecutor in Cozumel, was found liable for breach of authority in his handling of the MacColl case.

But Kirsty and her family have never found justice for her death.

*****

Here’s the first record I ever bought by Kirsty, the song which catapulted her to the pop-stardom she’d been flirting with the idea of for a few years prior to its release in 1984:

It’s ironic that someone who became so well-known for the brilliance of her own compositions should gain fame via a cover versions. But the writer of A New England has never forgotten that boost the song gave to both of their careers; to this day, whenever he plays it live, Billy Bragg still dedicates the extra verse that he penned for her version to Kirsty:

R.I.P. Kirsty.

More soon.

The Chain #48

I know I have often moaned in the past about how time-consuming it is to write The Chain, but this morning, at around 2am, having put off writing it every day this week, it suddenly occured to me that there are three reasons why it takes me so long:

1. You won’t be surprised to learn that I don’t own every record that gets suggested, so I have to track down a copy to post here. I quite enjoy this aspect, as it goes;

2. As I’m going through all of your suggestions, I put all the songs on a playlist so I can familiarise myself with them, and hopefully come up with either some decent jokes (I’ll let you be the judge of how succcesful I am with that) and/or some funny video clips to include in the post. This latter aspect, as I’m sure you can imagine, often leads me down a YouTube rabbithole. That said, I quite enjoy this aspect too;

3. For practically every song you suggest, I manage to think of at least one more to link to either the source record, or your suggestion. That’s not meant to sound like a boast, more a statement of fact: people who write music-based blogs tend to know quite a lot of records. I try to exert some kind of control over the amount of my own suggestions I include but sometimes I just can’t resist. I really like this aspect as well.

So next time I moan about what a pain it is to write The Chain, ignore me. Once I get going on it, I bloody love it.

As can be seen by the amount of suggestions I’ve made this time.

And that’s despite the source record being, in my opinion, one of the worst singles by – well, I’m not going to say the worst bands, not when Black Eyed Peas and Coldplay are both things – but certainly by a band that I don’t much care for.

In case you’ve forgotten, said source record this time around was this:

U2 – Beautiful Day

As usual, the suggestions can be split into categories, one for each word: ‘U2’, ‘Beautiful’ and ‘Day’, with a few tangents thrown in for good measure.

We’ll save the vitriol of links to U2 for later I think, so let’s start with a suggestion from PhonicPat:

“[Beautiful Day] is from their ‘All That You Can’t Leave Behind” album which leads nicely to…:”

Over to C from Sun Dried Sparrows to kick off all the nominations linked to the word ‘Day’ and complete the cleansing of the palate:

“I think ‘keeping it simple’ will be my mantra from now on, so… Beautiful Day takes me to beautiful Days. I’ve just been through your back pages and I couldn’t see Kirsty MacColl’s sublime cover version appearing here before, so can we have that one please?”

But of course!

Kirsty MacColl – Days

Next up is a clutch of suggestions/songs mentioned in passing – which you all know I can’t resist – from Kay. For those of you who don’t know, Kay is my manager at work, but also a friend. She, too, wants to keep things simple:

“I’m a simple soul [I’m saying nothing – Ed], so I immediately started thinking of songs about a particular day of the week. First thought was…”:

New Order – Blue Monday

“…then remembered [Look out, folks, she’s off. Experience tells me to get comfy and look like you’re paying attention – Ed] Foals had a song called Sunday, and I thought I would choose that, so you’d have to post it (much to your disgust)…”

Foals – Sunday

Allow me to explain that “much to your disgust” comment: I’m not a Foals fan. I don’t dislike them either, to be honest. I just find them a bit “meh”. I don’t understand why anyone would want to pay money to go and see them, unless they need to pick up a new Yasser Arafat-type scarf from the merchandise stall, that is.

Anyway, carry on.

“…but then thought neither a Monday or a Sunday is a beautiful day. So I’m going for…”

The Cure – Friday I’m In Love

“…as Fridays are really quite beautiful.”

I’m not sure if this has any bearing, but before we all had to work from home, Friday would be the day when someone was most likely to bring cakes into the office.

In the spirit of full disclosure, Kay’s email to me with her suggestions began like this:

“Here’s my suggestion…(it’s a bit basic, so doubt I’ll win the Showboating prize)…I have an alternative (that could be a Worst Record of the Week Award contender)…”

You know me, dear reader. I was intrigued and pressed Kay as to what that might be.

This:

Whigfield – Saturday Night

No, I don’t understand that record sleeve either.

I’m not going to give you the satisfaction of being the recipient of the Worst Record of the Week Award.

Now get back to work, all those complaints about me aren’t going to answer themselves, you know.

Over to Martin from New Amusements next:

“There’s already been mention of Kirsty’s sublime cover but what of The Kinks’ original version of Days?”

I wouldn’t normally do this kind of thing, but oh, go on then:

The Kinks – Days

Martin will be back shortly, but in the meantime previously thought Missing in Action Chain Ganger George is back! Back! BACK!:

“From the song Beautiful Day to Darren Van Day of Dollar (don’t worry, it’ll get better)…. “

Too late! You’ve mentioned them now!

Dollar – Hand Held in Black and White

Sorry. As you were.

“…to Working For The Yankee Dollar (Skids)”

Skids – Working For The Yankee Dollar

Well, he says, blowing some dust off the box marked “Catchphrases”, if you’re having having that, then I’m having this:

The Men They Couldn’t Hang – Greenback Dollar

“Also,” Martin pipes up again, “a beautiful day might even qualify as a Perfect Day, by Lou Reed?”

Don’t mind if I do:

Lou Reed – Perfect Day

Time for a clip, and I imagine most of you will know that popular comic creations Lou & Andy from Little Britain…:

…are based on Lou Reed and Andy Warhol as played by David Walliams and Matt Lucas in an old Rock Profile sketch, reprised here on The Ralf Little Show (no, me neither):

Anyhoo. Kirsty MacColl also covered Perfect Day, with the Lemonheads’ Evan Dando, of course. But I’d be overdoing it if I posted that too, so we’ll save that for another…erm…day.

Instead, here’s Kirsty doing something which just begs to be played right after that:

Kirsty MacColl – The End Of A Perfect Day

And since we’re on the subject of perfect days, I was mightily suprised nobody came up with this:

PJ Harvey – A Perfect Day Elise

That’s all the ‘Day’ suggestions, and before we move let’s move on to the “Beautiful” links, a suggestion which covers both, and I’ll hand you over to The Robster from on/off/on-again/no-he’s-definitely-gone-this-time Is This The Life?

“Beautiful Day was used by ITV for their ill-fated coverage of The Premiership back in, erm, I don’t remember. Quite a few years ago. The song I always associate with football on TV is Life Of Riley by the Lightning Seeds which Match Of The Day used for its Goal Of The Month feature.”

The Lightning Seeds – The Life Of Riley

Ill-fated it certainly was, for two reasons: firstly, given an alternative, I don’t know anyone who would elect to watch football on ITV, and secondly, tactical analysis was provided by former professional footballer Andy Townsend, not from the comfort of a warm studio, but from what was know as The Tactics Truck, for no other reason, it seemed, than alliteration.

Whilst we’re on the subject of football, here’s PhonicPat with a couple of suggestions which I’ll allow, even though they link to The Robster’s suggestion more than to the source record:

“Late to the party this time around and some of my thoughts already reflected in the comments [but I haven’t got to them yet in this post, in case you were wondering – Ed]…More footy with…”:

“…and one more football song:”

Sorry, Pat. I can’t say I enjoyed that one. Worst Record of the Week, in my book.

Now we’ll move on to just plain Beautiful, words often used to describe Swiss Adam from Bagging Area, I’m sure:

“There are lots of songs that link to beautiful – Peaking Lights’ Beautiful Dub has the double pleasure of the word in its title and being beautiful to listen to.”

He’s not wrong:

Peaking Lights – Beautiful Dub

In fact, he’s not wrong on both fronts: there are loads of songs which link to “Beautiful”. Like this, for example (a bit of a gear change here):

Marilyn Manson – The Beautiful People

And then there’s this:

Suede – Beautiful Ones

And:

Not forgetting:

Neil Diamond – Beautiful Noise

Somebody stop me!

Ok, to break me out of this run, since we’ve now learned that a Beautiful Noise makes Mr Diamond feel good, just like a hand in a glove, I have to post this, don’t I….?

The Smiths – Hand In Glove (7” Version)

Anyone else care to add to the list?

“So many ‘beautiful’ songs,” PhonicPat thankfully chips in, “but eels’ Beautiful Freak could almost have been sung about Bono and the band.

eels – Beautiful Freak

I’m not sure if that’s meant to be a compliment or not. If it is, then frankly that’s not what we expect when asked to comment about U2 round here. Please allow Swiss Adam to show you how it’s done:

“U2 are bad. Really bad. Negativland nailed them and their egos with The U2 Song, daring them to sue. Which they did.”

Effin’ and jeffin’ alert:

Negativland – I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For (Special Edit Radio Mix)

There’s a little snatch (and no, I don’t mean Bono) of the melody of that, such as it is, which reminds me of Una Paloma Blanca by Jonathan King, but since I’ve banned Morrissey’s solo records from the blog because of his extremist views, I guess I should extend that to convicted paedophiles too. So instead, here’s the George Baker Selection with the titularly-truncated (presumably Ms Stubbs complained) Paloma Blanca:

George Baker Selection – Paloma Blanca

Bet you thought I was going to follow that up with a certain spoof version by The Wurzels, right?

Of course not. How dare you.

No, I’m going to follow that up with a cover of a certain spoof version by The Wurzels:

Going back to expressing one’s…erm…admiration for U2, perhaps one could take a leaf out Stevie from Charity Chic Music who does it in a much more subtle way:

“A mention of U2 leads to You’ve Already Put Big Old Tears in my Eyes (Must You Throw Dirt in my Face) by the Louvin Brothers”

Louvin Brothers – Must You Throw Dirt In My Face

Personally, whenever I hear the name U2, I want to rebel against it, and listen to the complete opposite. So, like a typically confusing clue on 70s game show 3-2-1

…here we go: The clue mentions the complete opposite and the the opposite of U could be Me or it could be We; the opposite of the opposite of 2 is the number immediately adjacent to it, so it could be 1 or it could be 3; if you want to rebel against something then you want to bring about change, and perhaps the most famous rebels were the French Resistance…so the next suggestion is of course:

I mean, really I should be awarding myself some points for Showboat of the Week. Not that I can be bothered awarding points anymore. Nobody really cares about them, do they?

Here’s Martin again with another song which sort of links to the band’s name:

“Finally I want to mention ‘U Talk 2 Much’ by Sultans of Ping FC, not least for its U2-referencing sleeve art”:

Which takes me back to PhonicPat, and an alternative Sultans of Ping FC tune, suggested “…for the footy link”:

Do you remember when U2 graciously and modestly decided that everyone with iTunes should be blessed with a free copy of their 2014 Songs of Innocence album, whether they wanted it or not? Well, that leads me here:

Janelle Monáe – Dirty Computer (feat. Brian Wilson)

Time to go off on some (non-football) tangents, I think, and so here’s Alyson from What’s It All About?:

“U-2 is a kind of plane and another plane become the inspiration for a song by OMD, so I’m going for Enola Gay, which very scarily was a big hit for them in 1980, 40 years ago now. The awful event addressed in the song, the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, happened only 35 years prior to that. Is it just me or is time running away with us as we get older?”

Keep it light, Aly, for Gawd’s sake:

Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark – Enola Gay

Well, if we’re side stepping to planes, then – surprise, surprise – I have a couple.

Predictably, this lot:

Status Quo – Paper Plane

And, perhaps less predictably, this:

M.I.A. – Paper Planes

On the same theme, some suggestions from a couple of first-timers (I think – apologies if you’ve contributed before and I’ve forgotten); firstly, give a big Chain Gang welcome to Devonian:

“U2 is a plane named after a letter and a number. B-52 is also a plane named after a letter and a number. Something by The B-52s, then… let’s say…”

The B-52’s – Mesopotamia

And follow that up with an equally warm hand on his entrance for Stevo Kifaru, who, for a first-time Chain Ganger has certainly got the hang of naming a load of records knowing full-well I won’t be able to resist posting them all:

“U2 were named after an American spy plane, the Lockheed U-2, so I’m going with the theme of Spies for a second. My initial thought was…:”

Was (Not Was) – Spy In The House Of Love

“…but then I thought…”

The Untouchables – I Spy (For The F.B.I.)

“…to be a cooler track.”

Hmm. Not sure about that, because of this:

Anyway, if we’re side-stepping into the world of spies and espionage, then we’ll have a bit of this, I think:

Super Furry Animals – She’s Got Spies

And this, too:

Pulp – I Spy

He’s not done there, though, is our Stevo:

“But as I’m typing this I think ‘The House of Love’ ooh Christine is such a sublime single, I mean those guitars…”:

The House of Love – Christine

Pop the handbrake on for a moment and hide the jacket potatoes, I have (yes, yet another) suggestion:

….which I’m sure you’ll agree is the very best of the mixes, right Chums?

It turns out Stevo is quite the Chatty Cathy (a bit rich, coming from me, granted), for he continues:

“I also thought U2 reminded me of the nomenclature of German submarines, always beginning with a U, & that brought me to Das Boot. Many years ago my friend randomly asked me, what was the number of the sub in Das Boot? I thought for a second & said U96. I have felt like such a nerd since that day, my friend obviously grateful that I answered his question, but the look he gave me was one of shock at my depths of geekness….In reality I just remembered the techno remix of the theme tune that was released under the name of U96….”:

U96 – Das Boot

So, having dealt with all things U2-related (was that what we were doing? I’ve lost track…), what about the individual band members?

And by band members, I mean your Bono fide ones, not charlatans like this chap:

Back to you, Robster:

“I’m also going to throw a Half Man Half Biscuit song into the mix, just because it’s Half Man Half Biscuit. Something from their ‘Achtung Bono’ album. How about…:”

Half Man Half Biscuit – For What Is Chatteris

In the interest of balance, perhaps I should point out that Bono at least seems to be vaguely self-aware and have a sense of humour about how many people view him, even if that sense of humour has been written by somebody else:

Right, who’s left?

Rigid Digit from Stuff & Nonsense, that’s who:

“U2 to Stiff Little Fingers to Grandmaster Flash and back to U2 in 3 moves:

There is a story that Adam Clayton says the bass line for U2’s ‘With Or Without You’ is basically Stiff Little Fingers’ ‘Alternative Ulster’ slowed down.”

Now. I know you haven’t suggested it, and I wouldn’t ordinarily post a second song by the source artist (especially when it’s U-Sodding-2), but I don’t think I can let that slide without investigating. So here’s both of those records, to allow us to compare and contrast:

U2 – With or Without You

Hmm. I suppose he may have a point. But it’s not exactly the most complicated bass-line in the world is it?

“SLFs 1997 album Tinderbox,” Rigid gamely continues, undeterred, “contains a cover version of ‘The Message’, which includes the lyric: “Don’t push me cos I’m close to the Edge”

So, here’s both the cover and the original. I do like a bit of SLF, but I know which of these I prefer:

Sounds a bit Walk This Way, only not as good to me, no? Imagine the Run DMC boys hadn’t turned up at the studio and so Aerosmith recorded their part too.

Where were we? Ah yes: Grandmaster Flash:

Much better.

Of course, any mention of The Edge being close to the edge means that I’m contractually obliged to share this clip:

Last ones before we find out what the next record in The actual Chain is, and I’ll hand over to The Great Gog to bring things to a thrilling climax as only he can:

“The phrase ‘close to the edge’ has already been mentioned. Of course Bono and the other two are close to The Edge when they play live. Close To The Edge was also an album recorded by Yes in 1972. Later versions of this album include a cover of the Paul Simon-penned America, also recorded in the same year.”

Now, I’m no Yes man, so I checked what Wiki has to say about this, and GG is quite correct:

In 1987, ‘Close to the Edge’ was reissued by Atlantic Records on CD in the United States and Europe. Another issue of the album was digitally remastered by Joe Gastwirt in 1994. In 2003, the album was reissued again on disc in an expanded and remastered edition by Rhino and Elektra Records. Included were two previously unreleased tracks: an alternate version of ‘And You and I’, an early run-through of ‘Siberian Khatru’, and Yes’s 1972 single ‘America’ with its b-side, an edit of ‘Total Mass Retain‘.”

Never in doubt:

It’s not so much a cover version as a lot of proggy noodling with the Simon & Garfunkel lyrics chucked in after a while.

I should be careful how I phrase that, really; for to describe them as ‘Simon & Garfunkel lyrics’ does rather give the impression that Art had some involvement in the song-writing process, a goof that Annie Nightingale made when she interviewed Paul Simon for The Old Grey Whistle Test many years ago:

“1972 saw Simon record the song ‘Mother & Child Reunion’,” GG continues. “He performed this song on stage (and presumably close to The Edge) with U2 at Madison Square Garden in 2015. The performance is on YouTube but the quality isn’t great and there’s a load of waffle from Bono at the start of it.”

Which seems a good enough reason to just post the Paul Simon version:

And all that leaves me to do is….oh wait. Rigid Digit is back:

“Forgot to include the story of my U2 branded SatNav. It’s terrible – the streets have no names, and I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.

And I think my U2 fridge is on the way out – all it does is Rattle and Hum.”

Thanks Rigid, I trust you’ll be here all week?

Anyway, as I was saying (he says, locking the door behind him to be on the safe side), all that leaves me to do is to give you the next song in The Chain, along with the way the person suggesting it got there. And don’t worry, it’s a waaaaaaaay better record this time:

The link: As PhonicPat said right at the top, Beautiful Day appeared on the band’s All That You Can’t Leave Behind album. What Pat didn’t say was that said album was produced by Brian Eno (and Daniel Lanois); and the album that this is taken from (Fear of Music) was also produced by Brian Eno (without Daniel Lanois):

So, your suggestions, please, for songs which link to Cities by Talking Heads, along with a brief description of the link, via the Comments Section down below or via email to dubioustaste26@gmail.com in time for whenever The Chain circus next rolls into town, in a month or so’s time (probably).

More soon.

Sunday Morning Coming Down

Kirsty MacColl’s name has cropped up a couple of times on here recently, so it seems only right I should post something by her.

1981 was the first time she entered the UK Singles Chart in her own right, climbing to #14 with the wonderfully-titled, and just plain wonderful, There’s A Guy Works Down The Chip Shop Swears He’s Elvis.

The album it was lifted from, Desperate Character, as well as the hit version, included a very different version of the song, the sound switching from the rockabilly-pop of the single to a more countrified version, helpfully subtitled with an explanatory bracket:

Kirsty MacColl – There’s A Guy Works Down The Chip Shop Swears He’s Elvis (Country version)

And here’s another version, which cropped up as an extra track on the All I Ever Wanted CD single. It’s a more country than pop version:

Kirsty MacColl – There’s A Guy Works Down The Chip Shop Swears He’s Elvis (Live)

Take your pick.

More, soon.

It’s Chriiiiistmas!!!

Okay, I know you’re probably all sick of hearing this song by now, but hear me out.

Since I started writing this blog, every year on the 18th December I’ve posted something in memory of the late great Kirsty MacColl, that being the anniversary of her sad, horrific, death.

But this year time got the better of me, and I didn’t get round to writing anything.

And so here we are, posting a song which I had largely tried to avoid posting, so obvious a choice is it, so synonymous with her name.

But ask me what my favourite Christmas pop single is, and this will be the first title to spill from my gob, probably showering you in mince pie detritus.

Plus, today is Shane MacGowan’s birthday, so there’s double the reason to mention it.

About twenty years or so ago, my parents, having retired, bought a plot of land in Ireland and built a home for themselves. I would visit every Christmas, and they would pick me up from the nearest airport or ferry terminal.

On the drive home, we’d have the radio on, and this song would be played more than any other song I have ever heard; it was like it was the National Anthem and every radio station was obliged to play it at least once an hour.

It got to the point where when the opening bars started, we would groan and skip to a different channel, waiting until it was inevitably played again, at which point we would restart the process.

A few weeks ago, during my enforced stay at a Travelodge, I popped to see my parents for the weekend (they have moved back to the UK). On the car journey back from the train station, it came on the radio and my Dad, instead of changing channels, turned it up.

He spotted my knowing look and simply said: “You can’t deny that it’s a good record, can you?”

So, with absolutely no apologies for posting something so obvious, here you go. Happy Christmas.

The Pogues feat. Kirsty MacColl – Fairytale of New York

And that’s me done for another year. There might be another post around New Year’s Eve, we’ll see if inspiration strikes.

But in the meantime, whether you’ve stumbled upon this place for the first time today, or regularly revisit, a very Merry Christmas to you and yours.

More soon.

Remembering Kirsty

The 18th day of December, and the 18th anniversary of the day we were robbed of one of Britain’s greatest musical talents.

I mark her passing every year, and never do I struggle to choose a song to play in her honour.

This year: the lead single from her brilliant Kite album, a single I bought on 12″ on the day of it’s release simply because I knew that it was Kirsty and therefore it was bound to brilliant. Almost twenty years later, my opinion hasn’t changed.

She never let me down – and the lyrics (sadly) are just as prescient and relevant today as they were back in 1989  when she dropped this absolute pearler:

R-406717-1488469074-2539_jpeg

Kirsty MacColl – Free World

More soon.

Remembering Kirsty

As is traditional round here at Dubious Taste Towers, December 18th is the day that I raise a glass in memory of the wonderful, much missed Kirsty MacColl. For today is the 17th anniversary of her tragic death.

You can read the story of her death and the subsequent miscarriage of justice here.

Remembering her at this time of year is made much easier by her featuring – no, starring – on “Fairytale of New York”; there’s a general agreement that it’s probably the greatest Christmas record ever that I’m certainly not going to disagree with.

But you all know that record, so each year on this day I try to play something else from her gloriously varied canon of work.

So here’s his year’s choice:

kirsty maccoll - terry

Kirsty MacColl – Terry

Like I said, glorious.

Cheers, Kirsty. Much missed, never forgotten.

More soon.

The Chain #41

Never let it be said I’m not a man of my word.

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:

20140211-18431840. The Beach Boys – God Only Knows

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….

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James – God Only Knows

“…and….” Whoa there, GM! We’ve not finished with the songs also called “God Only Knows”.

Over to you The Swede (of Unthought of, though, somehow):

“From ‘God Only Knows’ by The Beach Boys to…..’God Only Knows’ by Joe Henry – same title, different song, fortunately a quite lovely one.”

He’s not wrong, you know:

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Joe Henry – God Only Knows

Now to the first of my oh so many suggestions this week. Imagine Yoda is reciting the name of the source song, he’d probably refer to it like this:

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Young Fathers (feat. Leith Congregational Choir) – Only God Knows

Time for Dirk of sexyloser fame to contribute:

“‘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).

In other words, this is totally fine:

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Teenage Fanclub – God Knows It’s True

What else does God know? Let’s ask David Bowie, who has probably found out whether he was right by now:

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David Bowie – God Knows I’m Good

That song title in no way references my Gourd pun earlier, by the way.

Next up, it’s Martin from New Amusements, and he’s going all deep and meaningful on us:

“‘God Only Knows’ has one of the most honest first lines in songwriting history, I’ll throw in ‘Honesty’ by Billy Joel.”

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Billy Joel – Honesty

Ok GM, the floor’s yours again:

“…and ‘Lord Only Knows’ by Beck, there is a great version from his Union Chapel show in 2003 which includes harmonica and merges into Hot In Here (Herre !?) in a way only Beck can do.”

You mean this, I presume:

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Beck – Lord Only Knows & Hot In Here (Live at Union Chapel)

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.”

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Public Enemy – 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:

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Glen Campbell – Galveston

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:

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Wilson Phillips – Hold On

Actually, two of Wilson Phillips are the daughters of Brian Wilson; I expected someone would suggest a record by the parents of the third member, but nobody did, so I may as well:

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The Mamas & The Papas – Creeque Alley

“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!

Anyway, here’s your suggestion:

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Talk Talk – Does Caroline Know?

Mention ‘Caroline, No’ and I can’t resist posting this:

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Kaiser Chiefs – Caroline, Yes

Bet you all thought I was going to post some Quo then, didn’t you?

Nah.

Oh wait, what’s this?

God Only Knows how utterly predictable I am.

Although it does mean I can post this….

A change of pace now, and here’s Jules from Music From Magazines who I think now feels obliged to suggest something by Lambchop every time:

“‘The Book I Haven’t Read’ (Live Version) from a tour CD titled Pet Sounds suck” by Lambchop.”

This, then, would be one them there rarities I mentioned earlier:

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Lambchop – The Book I Haven’t Read (Live Version)

Next up is BabyLotti:

“I’ve got to link to the best cover of one of The Beach Boys’ songs I’ve ever heard, Don’t worry baby by Ronnie Spector from the She Talks To Rainbows EP. Produced by no less than Joey Ramone”

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Ronnie Spector – Don’t Worry Baby

It’s pretty hard to top that, to be fair, so let’s move on to a new batch of songs, and here’s all the God-bothering suggestions you came up with.

First out of the bag is Alex G from We Will Have Salad:

“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.

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Adonis – No Way Back

The rest of you stick to referencing songs with ‘God’ in the title, so let’s work our way through them.

First up, a song which we featured a cover by Tricky of back on The Chain #37. Nevertheless, it’s the original version suggested by Martin of New Amusements so it’s in:

“Going the God route, with ‘Dear God’ by XTC…” 

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XTC – Dear God

“…and…” Whoa there, Martin! We’ve not finished with the songs that have God in the title.

First, we’re going back to The Swede for his second suggestion of the week, “…another divine link of a slightly more irreverent nature…” as he quite rightly puts it:

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Half Man Half Biscuit – God Gave Us Life

If any of our overseas readers would like to know who any of the people mentioned in that song are, feel free to email me, or, preferably, Google them.

Time to welcome aboard the latest member of The Chain Gang now, so Ladies and Gentleman, please click your pickaxes together and give a warm welcome to C from Sun Dried Sparrows:

“‘God Only Knows’ made me think of God, not something I do very often, for I am faithless. And then I thought of….”:

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Faithless – God Is A DJ

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…’.”

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Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Antennas To Heaven

Remember when I said there was over three and a half hours worth of tunes this week? Well that’s almost twenty minutes of them, right there. I’d pop the kettle on if I were you.

Ok, so if we’re on songs that feature God in the title and feature an exclamation mark somewhere, then it would be terribly remiss of me not to post this:

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Super Furry Animals – God! Show Me Magic

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 no God,” he blasphemes, “so…”

Hold up, what did you just say?

“Sorry to disappoint you but there is no God…”

Thought so.

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).

Here’s the tune:

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Dick Gaughan – No Gods And Precious Few Heroes (Live)

Quite some time ago, or so it seems, I left GMFree hanging with their second suggestion, so it’s probably about time we went back and checked on them.

“I wanted to include The God Machine with the KLF cover ‘What Time is Love” but I don’t own a copy…”

You do now:

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The God Machine  – What Time is Love

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:

“…so will offer the equally heavy ‘She Said'”:

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The God Machine – She Said

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):

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TrUcKeR – God is a Dead Trucker Driving to Heaven

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.”

So, no jokes here. Just Miss Nina Simone.

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Nina Simone – Mississippi Goddam

Now, here we are, linking to songs about God, and not one of you has suggested anything by the Reverend Cliff Richard yet. The closest we get is this, from Rol of My Top Ten:

OK, my two suggestions will be as follows…

1. A song with the following lyrics…

No it’s never too late to change your mind
Don’t step on snails, don’t climb in trees,
Love Cliff Richard but please don’t tease
It’s never too late to change your mind

Thereby giving you your Cliff Richard fix even if nobody suggests him this time. Cliff and God go together, after all.

That’s…”

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Argent – God Gave Rock And Roll To You

“…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:

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Giorgio Moroder – Son Of My Father

And so to Jesus, and, more specifically, to Martin of New Amusements again. Martin’s not the Messiah, but he knows another Martin who thinks they must be.

“And the son of God route with…”

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Martin Rossiter – I Must Be Jesus

“…because it’s ace.”

He’s right, you know.

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:

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Tori Amos – Father Lucifer

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:

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Kylie Minogue – Better The Devil You Know

Which leads us nicely on to our third new member of the Chain Gang. Ladies and Gentlemen, will you please be upstanding and straighten out your natty suits with arrows on them for KC:

I’d like to suggest ‘The Lord’s Favorite’ by Danish wunderkind iceage and I’ll apologise for the use of the word wunderkind, that was how SWC described them to me.”

That’s the way to do things: if in doubt, blame SWC.

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Iceage – The Lord’s Favorite

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:

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Nickie Lee – The Ten Commandments Of Man

Okay, so having covered the ‘God’ aspect of ‘God Only Knows’, perhaps it’s time to focus on links to one of the other two words in the title, namely ‘Knows’. Here’s Rigid Digit from Stuff & Nonsense

“The Beach Boys tell us that ‘God Only Know’s, but Robert Plant asserts that ‘Heaven Knows’ (which is arguably the same thing?)”

Arguably, but it’s getting late.

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Robert Plant – Heaven Knows

Now as a die-hard fan of The Smiths, mention of a song title that starts with the words “Heaven Knows” sets by clogged up heart beating a little bit faster, for it gives me an excuse to post this:

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Sandie Shaw – Heaven Knows I’m Missing Him Now

Ha ha, fooled you!

Sorry, Rigid, you were saying?

“Marillion then confirm the original statement by saying…”

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Marillion – He Knows You Know

Time to dust off my Chain Catchphrase. Well, if you’re suggesting that, then – altogether now – I’m suggesting this:

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Goldie Lookin Chain – You Knows I Loves You

Moving swiftly on, a couple of you, taking the Boys from The Beach Boys, decided to flip it over to the fairer sex. Here’s George:

“I was going to suggest ‘Girls Girls Girls’ by Sailor but I changed my mind….”

Good job you did, for I’d definitely have to disqualify that one, as it featured in The Chain #35

So, have another go: “…going from Boys to Girls, and The Moments song ‘Girls'”.

Now, every version of that song that I could find credits it to The Moments & The Whatnauts, so I’m hoping this is the tune you were after:

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The Moments & The Whatnauts – Girls

And here’s SWC with an actual, proper suggestion, and it’s no coincidence that I first heard this song because of a post on When You Can’t Remember Anything:

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Girls – Vomit

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….” 

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Duran Duran – The Wild Boys

“…or…”

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Wham! – Bad Boys

“…(I am of a certain age)…”

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.

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Sabrina – Boys (Summertime Love)

Quick, somebody else suggest something. GMFree, you must have a few hundred more up your sleeve, surely?

“Thinking about a link to Beach and Boys lead me to ‘Boys Don’t Cry’ by The Cure included on Standing On a Beach comp, along with the b-side ‘The Exploding Boy’.”

I’ve warned you about this already….

I’ll pick the more unknown one of those two, which featured on the B-Side of the band’s wonderful “In Between Days” single:

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The Cure – The Exploding Boy

Which leads us nicely on to our last cluster of tunes, which relate to the Beach in The Beach Boys. Here’s George for his final suggestion:

“…from Beach to Sand, and…”

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Giant Sand – You Can’t Put Your Arms Around a Memory

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:

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Baby Bird – Aluminium Beach

Over to SWC for his second suggestion now:

“For the beach link I’m going to say ‘Pure Shores’ by All Saints as it’s on the soundtrack to the film ‘The Beach’.”

And because it’s ace, as Rol and Martin might say. (Because it is.)

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All Saints – Pure Shores

Let’s see what else Alyson has conjured up on the beach theme next:

“The other song that came to mind straight away was this one, pure cheese…from back in the early ’70s when this kind of thing was all over the airwaves!”

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The First Class – Beach Baby

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:

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Strawberry Switchblade – Since Yesterday

Did you spot it, readers?

Anyway, where were we? Ah yes, beaches.

This, then, The Robster’s final suggestion:

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Kirsty MacColl – He’s On The Beach

Isn’t that ace too? We went through a phase a while ago of having a record by Kirsty pretty much every week on the Chain, but that’s the first time she’s featured in ages. Sort it out folks.

And from an artist who used to feature regularly to the band I was surprised has never featured before, so many thanks to abramson60 for rectifying that with this absolute belter:

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Ramones – Rockaway Beach

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…” 

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41. Martha And The Muffins – Echo Beach

Congratulations, KC! Points to the New Girl! The rest of you: hang your heads in shame, she’s tucked you all right up there.

So, all that leaves me to do is to thank you all again for the love you’ve shown The Chain, for your awesome (and ace) suggestions, and to ask you to do it all over again.

Your suggestions, please, for songs which link to “Echo Beach” by Martha and The Muffins, along with a brief description of the link, via the Comments Section down below, in time for the next edition.

More soon.

Remembering Kirsty

Every year, on December 18th, I post something in memory of Kirsty MacColl.

I imagine most of you know the story of how we lost this glorious, talented, much-missed musician sixteen years ago today; in case you don’t I wrote about it back here.

Here’s this year’s selection, which seems apt:

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Kirsty MacColl – Angel

More soon.