I’d say there are four things that Tracey Ullman is known for here in the UK:
Being a very funny comedian;
Having a very busy 1980s where, in reverse order, she had her own TV show in the States in the late 80s which gave birth to The Simpsons;
Appearing in Three of a Kind, a sketch show in the UK in the mid-80s, in which she starred with Lenny Henry an David Copperfield (not that one);
Having a brief but wonderful pop career in the early 80s, which included 3 Top 10 and a further 2 Top 40 hits in the UK.
It is of course the pop career we’ll be looking at this morning. And just in case you’re already turning your nose up and thinking “novelty hits” well…you’d be partly right, for all of her hits were cover versions.
But these were novelty hits with some artistic weight behind them, for they were released on the legendary Stiff Records label, home at some point or another to such luminaries as Nick Lowe, The Damned, Lene Lovich, Wreckless Eric, Ian Dury, Elvis Costello, Devo, Madness, The Pogues, The Belle Stars, and, most importantly, Kirsty MacColl.
MacColl actually wrote the title track for Ullman’s debut album, You Broke My Heart in 17 Places:
I mean, it’s got early Kirsty written all over it, hasn’t it?
The first of her hits was a cover of an old Irma Thomas tune, written by Jackie DeShannon and Sharon Sheeley, and was probably the least well-known as a cover when it was released in March 1983, peaking at #4 in the UK charts:
I have two things to say about that; firstly, when she first released that, it was called Break-A-Way rather than Breakaway; and secondly, if you’re of a similar vintage to me, and if your brain is wired the same way as mine (and heaven help you if it is) then you too will have seen the word Breakaway and immediately thought of this, and are now feeling a bit peckish:
But I digress.
You may have noticed a recurring theme when looking at Ullman’s album and single sleeve; Ullman dressing up in various guises. This is something which she carried over into her videos; here she is in the Breakaway promo, where, when not dressed as a go-go dancer with an array of beehive hair-do’s, she demonstrates the art of singing into a hairbrush:
This is entirely in keeping with Ullman’s background, for truth be told she very much stumbled into her pop career: “One day, I was at my hairdresser,” she once recalled, “and Dave Robinson’s [head of Stiff Records] wife Rosemary leant over and said, ‘Do you want to make a record?’… I went, ‘Yeah I want to make a record.’ I would have tried anything.”
Before she embarked upon her brief life as a popstar, she had won a full scholarship to the Italia Conti Academy at the age of twelve, attended a dance audition at sixteen, which resulted in her landing a contract with a German ballet company for a revival of Gigi in Berlin, then joined Second Generation dance troupe on her return to the UK, before branching out into musical theatre where she was cast in numerous West End musicals, such as Grease, and The Rocky Horror Show.
Now, if you thought having written the title track of Ullman’s first album, that Kirsty McColl’s work here was done, then you’d be very much mistaken, for the second single was a cover of Kirsty’s ruddy marvellous They Don’t Know, which reached #2 in the UK charts in September 1983.
Rumour has it that Ullman was unable to hit the high “Baby!” after the instrumental break, so Kirsty had to do it. It certainly sounds like her…:
Probably one of my favourite records ever, that. It’s certainly in the Top 10.
The video for Ullman’s version not only gave her further opportunity to dress up and show both her acting and dancing chops, it started a trend which she continued through her next few singles: the celebrity guest appearance.
Wait for it…..:
Single number three from the album was a cover of Doris Day’s Move Over Darling; released in December 1983, it peaked at #8 in the UK:
There were more guest appearances in Ullman’s video:
I should end this here, but the next single from the follow-up album You Caught Me Out is worth mentioning. Not because it was her final Top 20 hit (it wasn’t – it peaked at #23; the next single Sunglasses got to #18 and that was the last time Ullman bothered the Top 40)…
I’ve tried to ignore it, vowed not to write about it, but I can’t really ignore it any longer.
So if by writing this I somehow manage to jinx it, I’m sorry.
With apologies and deference to my Welsh, Scottish and Irish friends (and you lot over in that Europe thing), tonight a pretty big thing is happening in the world of sport.
The mens’ England football team have made it to a final of a tournament for the first time since 1966.
I imagine this comes as a surprise to you. It’s barely been mentioned in the mass media over the past couple of weeks.
And this is why I have issued a rallying call to many of my non-English friends: support us tonight, because if we win, we just might shut up about having won the World Cup once. (We won’t, of course. We’ll continue to bang on about that and this as the greatest triumphs in our history, along with a couple of World Wars, conveniently glossing over the colonialism and slavery that we definitely weren’t part of.)
The other week I mentioned in passing the age old discussion about which is the better England football song, this (from 1990):
(Incidentally, nobody ever sings the less “30 years of hurt”-centric version from 1998, do they? I watched England v Columbia (2-0) and England v Argentina (1-1, Argentina won on penalties) in a pub in Nottingham with my old friends Daints and Louise. After the Columbia game, I was challenged by a local drunkard to sing-a-long to both versions. I won, obviously. Can’t quite recall what the prize was, for some reason….)
The reason that its these two songs – World in Motion and Three Lions – which come up in competition against each other as being the Best Football Song…Ever! is, in my book, clear: neither of them make the mistake of referencing players in the England squad for the tournament being sung about.
I’m sure this is the main reason that this is not viewed equally fondly (although the “Gerard to Beckham…” coda is my favourite bit of this):
Both songs are brilliant for different reasons. World in Motion is technically the better song (even if it was an old throwaway New Order song, given new life by Keith Allen and a John Barnes rap), but Three Lions is the far superior terrace sing-a-long.
One of them now has a distinct disadvantage though, for, just like when politicians try to earn credibility points by claiming to like bands they think they should like (see Gordon Brown and the Arctic Monkeys, David Cameron and The Smiths), as England have progressed through the competition, so we have seen growing numbers of politicians suddenly try to gain some column inches by grabbing on the coat-tails of something popular in the hope that some of that love and admiration displayed by the public to the football team, may in some may rub-off on them.
I’m so sorry, I appear to have used the phrase “rub-off on them” just as I’m about to post a link to Jacob Rees-Mogg. For the record, please do not rub anything off, on, near or whilst looking at Rees-Mogg.
1-0 to Three Lions, because I don’t think I can ever listen to World in Motion again after that.
But then there are problems with the very title of the Baddiel/Skinner/Lightning Seeds smasheroo:
1-1, and it’s looking more and more like We’re On The Ball taking over.
Anyway, the slew of (mostly Conservative) MPs jumping on the bandwagon of supporting the England team has been a truly nauseous sight. King of these charlatans was Boris, who turned up at Wembley dressed as most football fans do, with an England shirt over the top of a shirt and tie:
Boris doesn’t care about football. Boris cares about photo-opportunities. He was, rightly called out by Gary Neville in a bit of marvellous punditry where he compared Johnson’s record and professional demeanour with the current England manager, Gareth Southgate:
Boris wasn’t alone in climbing on this particular bandwagon. Here’s Priti Patel, daughter of immigrants, who earlier in the tournament said this:
Which makes all of her subsequent tweets, such as this one from Wednesday night, seem all the more disingenuous:
She may be wearing an England shirt, but there’s no evidence here that she’s watching the match. I suspect that, just out of shot, is a man holding up photos of babies – of colour, obviously – drowning as they and their parents raft goes down as they try to escape the horrible world from which they came.
For this week, Patel has been banging on about the new Borders Bill, passed through the House of Commons this week, which *ahem* gives us back control of our borders (this which, as you all know by now, we already had before Brexit but couldn’t be bothered to implement by way of funding properly).
Amongst other things, the Bill makes it illegal to help or assist anyone that you know or suspect to be a potential immigrant to get to our shores safe and sound. So were you to be out in the Channel in a boat, and you came across a load of immigrants on a disintegrating raft, you are now forbidden to help them. You must, says the Bill, leave them to drown, or you will be prosecuted for saving them.
Which makes the RNLI’s job a lot trickier.
So, if Priti Patel had her way, this is how the current England team would line up:
I mean, it’d be tense match, but I don’t rate our chances of scoring too highly.
And to clarify, here’s the rest of the starting eleven’s roots, all banned under Patel’s blinkered thought process:
What I’m saying is this: you don’t get to encourage people to boo the England football team, and then try to wrap yourself in the glow of their success. People remember this sort of thing.
Patel may win the Most Hypocritical MP of the Month – or pretty much any month, as it goes, but she doesn’t win the Stupidest MP of the Month award, for that can only go to Lee Anderson, who refused to accept that the England players taking the knee before kick off, in a show of unity against all forms of inequality, was their reason for doing so – despite them issuing a formal statement to explain their motivation – and had vowed not to watch any of the England matches in protest:
Excuse my language, but what a fucking idiot. I’m glad he’s missing out on all of this (although I’ll bet he’s watching really).
Anyway, when it comes to discussing which is the best football song ever, I always find it hard to get past this one:
Although, from the same tournament, the first I can remember watching, this – bar the mention of the squad being ‘Ron [Greenwood]’s 22’, which if you try really hard can be changed to ‘Southgate’s 22’ anyway – seems much more appropriate:
Although, were there any justice in this world – which there isn’t – then this, from 2010, would be our go-to England record every time. There’s only two things wrong with this: firstly, the Shuttleworth referred to isn’t John, and secondly: it’s not actually very good.
For quite some time now, I’ve been pondering what it is that is preventing me from posting with the same regularity as I was last year.
I’ve worked it out.
Regular readers will know that I generally sit on a Friday night, have a few drinks and write posts for the next week. But for a while now, I’ve become preoccupied on doing a new mix.
Warning: artist at work excuse incoming.
See, whilst they seem remarkably unpopular, I really enjoy piecing together a long playlist/mix/call it what you will, and that inevitably means a few drafts which don’t quite, to quote Echo & The Bunnymen, cut the mustard.
So, I’ve been working on this mix for some time now, but somehow something always seemed to prevent me from finishing it, be it me tinkering with the running order, or thinking of new tunes to toss in, or some kind of technical calamity, or (more often) listening to it and realising I’ve utterly messed up a mix and I simply can’t bear to have anyone else listen to it.
I’m not going to pretend all of the mixes between tunes here are perfect – there’s at least one which I know isn’t – but I’ve reached the point where it’s close enough to let it go and move on to something else, before I drive myself mad searching for perfection.
So here’s my latest mix, imperfect though it may be; frustrating as it has been, I really like this one, which starts off in the usual way – slowly – before getting into a groove which includes Kings of Leon from before they went stadium and knew how to use a cowbell, a new(ish) track by The Chemical Brothers, an obligatory Soulwax remix, two of the finest female pop stars going: Miley Cyrus & Dua Lipa (not on the same tune, sadly), the occasional hidden ‘joke’ (by which I mean it seemed funny when I first put the songs together, less so now), via Madonna having a short chat with Johnny Cash.
It’s the usual mix of songs you love, songs you’ve forgotten about, and songs which make you think “What the hell has he put this on here for??”. Some might say eclectic, but I couldn’t possibly comment. Think mainly Indie guitar stuff, with a few dance tunes, 80s pop songs and a couple of timeless classics – at least one of which you probably won’t have heard before – thrown in.
As always, no track-listing – I like to imagine your faces when the next song kicks in – but there’s a list of featured artists on the right hand side in case you want to see what you’re letting yourself in for. Which is a treat, obviously. If you desperately need to know what a track is, either Shazam it or, if you’d like to feed my ego, ask me via the Comments at the bottom of this post.
Usual disclaimer: any skips and jumps are down to the mixing software; any mis-timed mixes (and, as I say, there is at least one) is down to me. Either way: Sorry!
One more thing: you may recall that last time out I mentioned that my brother had said he managed to predict what I was going to play next, which annoyed me greatly. No such criticism of the last mix, although he told me he listened to it whilst out on his morning run, so some of the sudden gear changes weren’t helpful. I’ve tried to rectify that this time, with a relatively steady beat and tempo maintained throughout (after you’ve got past the traditional slow start) for those of you who listen to this whilst doing your exercises (not that I really understand what that means). The danger was that it would denigrate into either a Ministry of Sound pumping dance mix or a Top Gear/Best Driving Songs…in the World…Ever! playlist, but I think the song choices just about keep us on the right side of that happening.
Let’s say it starts slowly, gets into a groove, and then has more false endings than a Status Quo single.
I’m a bit annoyed that since I first decided to include it, at least on song here has popped up in an advert – and you know how I feel about them – for burgers, of all things. Rest assured, the advert in question was not the inspiration for the song’s inclusion. You’ll know it when you hear it, I think.
Oh and there are several songs which feature effing and jeffings – “sexual swear words” as Simon Bates used to say at the start of videos – so please avoid if you are easily offended by unfettered vulgarity and sauciness. Look, there’s a Goldie Lookin’ Chain tune which is probably the rudest and most inappropriate (but funny) thing I’ll ever post, so beware.
For a limited time (until I do another one, so y’know, could be months), you can stream or download it via Soundcloud here.
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.
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.
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:
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:
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?”
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…”:
“…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)…”
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…”
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.”
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.”
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:
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:
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?”
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…:”
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….”:
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:
“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:
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:
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 firstname.lastname@example.org in time for whenever The Chain circus next rolls into town, in a month or so’s time (probably).
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:
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 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: