The Chain #21

Well, it seems to be Wednesday evening again, and that can only mean one thing: I must remember to put my bins out. Oh, and host this week’s edition of The Chain.

You’ll recall we ended last week with The Cure’s “In Between Days”, and I invited you good folks to come up with songs which you can link to that record. The aim is, of course, in no particular order a) to showboat a little in your logic and song selection; b) to pick something which will cause a little debate in the Comments, be it about how great or how awful your choice is (never forgetting that, here, there’s no such thing as a Guilty Pleasure, hence recent inclusions from Busted, Chesney Hawkes, and PJ & Duncan, and you’re not necessarily saying that you like your own suggestion anyway), and c) trying to guess what the next record in the official BBC The Chain series, as featured originally on Radcliffe & Maconie’s Radio 2 show, which now airs on 6 Music.

After last week’s attempts to jiggle about with the running order, which frankly left me dazed, confused, and worried that I’d missed somebody out, I’m settling for an easy life this week, and resorting back to the tried and tested method of simply posting the suggestions as they were received.

So, first out of the traps this week was Rol from the My Top Ten blog, who was noticeable in his absence last week:

“Because I missed last week’s I thought I’d get in early this week
 but now I’m spoilt for choice?

The Go-Betweens?

Inbetweener by Sleeper?

Torn Between Two Lovers?

Between The Wars?

Between My Legs by Rufus W.?

Walk Between The Raindrops?

All tempting, but


Ultrasound – Between Two Rivers, from their 2012 album Play For Today. It’s lovely, it starts with a nice bit of a brass, and they’re about to release their third album any day now.

That’s my suggestion for this week.”

Now, I normally have a bit of a moan about being snowed under with suggestions, about how I might have to cap the amount of suggestions per person (I hope you all note that I’ve still not enforced that rule) but since Rol had mentioned so many potential links, and as he hadn’t proffered anything last week, I figured I’d be magnanimous and ask if he wanted to nominate a second. But there was no swaying him. Fair enough.

Here’s Ultrasound then:

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Ultrasound – Between Two Rivers

Be terrible if any of those Rol elected not to formally submit as a suggestion turned out to be the right one, wouldn’t it? (That’s my way of injecting a little suspense into proceedings).

Next up, here’s The Great Gog:

“In between days comes night. For some reason at this point Steely Dan’s “Night By Night” sprang to mind, and that’s a bit of an ear-worm of mine, so the rest of you can have a listen, too.”

Thanks GG, will do!

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Steely Dan – Night By Night

The next couple of suggestions I received were from babylotti:

“I’m going to link to ‘Days’, by The Kinks.”

Now that, I would suggest, is the complete opposite of Comment Showboating.

So here’s a factoid to make up for it: when Days was originally released, both the single sleeve and record label referred to the title as being “Day’s”:

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The Kinks – Days

See?

But wait! I stand corrected! Babylotti isn’t done yet:

“Ray Davies from the Kinks famously was seeing Chrissie Hynde for most of the 80s. Chrissie obviously being the mainstay of The Pretenders and I shall nominate their song called Back on the Chain Gang
”

I can’t really resist posting that one, for what I would hope are fairly obvious reasons:

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The Pretenders – Back on the Chain Gang

See that? That’s our theme tune, that is.

Time to welcome back the Badger from When You Can’t Remember Anything now, who rather presciently says:

“Right this won’t be the answer but
”In Between Days” used to be my ringtone when Mrs B phoned me. About a month ago I replaced that with ‘Digeridoo’ by Aphex Twin.”

You’re not wrong, Badger: that’s not the right answer. But since my knowledge of Aphex Twin pretty much begins and ends with “Windowlicker” and “Come to Daddy” I’m more than happy to oblige:

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Aphex Twin – Digeridoo

Time was, having just posted a tune which predominantly features a didgeridoo, I’d be able to make a really bad “Can you tell what it is yet?” gag, but alas no more. That particular comedic avenue has ended up the same way as the Animal Hospital: closed.

“Or” Badger continues, “Robert Smith formed a Cure off shoot called The Glove. Which links back to Hand in Glove by The Smiths.”

Badger knows from previous posts that a very simple way to make sure I raise no objections to a suggestion – not that I ever would, unless there is absolutely no link back to the source record – is to nominate something by one of my favourite bands ever, about whom I would never make any crass comments.

So with that in mind, here’s a picture of a man’s arse:

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The Smiths – Hand In Glove

You know that saying about how you have to wait ages for certain things to turn up – buses, or policemen, say – and then two turn up at once? Well add to that list “writers of the When You Can’t Remember Anything blog”.

Or to put it another way, here’s SWC:

“The follow up single to In Between Days was Close to Me that featured on the album Head on the Door. The first two words of which is the name of a very fine Jesus & Mary Chain track.”

This perplexed me at first, as I wasn’t aware of any Mary Chain single called “Close To”. But then the penny dropped, and such was my embarrassment at my own stupidity that I’m not going to get all pedantic and point out the album’s called The Head On the Door. And anyway, this is the first time we’ve featured one of their songs here on The Chain, so I’m not going to begrudge it. I mean, the words “Head” and “On” are still there, right?

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The Jesus & Mary Chain – Head On

SWC isn’t done yet though. Oh no.

“Or if you want cheese. Lol Tolhurst was once in The Cure. Lol is an expression for laughing. As is LMFAO. And they are Sexy, and They Know It.”

sexy-and-i-know-it-single-1LMFAO – Sexy and I Know It

Often on The Chain, I have to go searching the corners of the internet to track down copies of some of the songs suggested. I wish this had been one of them. But no, tucked away in the darkest corner of my external hard-drive, there it nestled.

Let’s move on shall we? There’s nothing to see here.

Here’s George:

“Linking Cure to Medicine, and Medicine Head’s first single His Guiding Hand, a song that The Swede will surely approve of, and a song rated by John Peel as one of the finest songs ever recorded.”

Indeed he did; in 2005 there was a Channel 4 documentary entitled “John Peel’s Record Box”, which focussed on a small, private collection of 143 singles representing some of his personal favourites, which Peel stored in a private wooden box. (It should be noted at this point, that said box contained no records by his most beloved band, The Fall: he kept them in a separate box).

You can watch the whole documentary here:

Needless to say from George’s introduction, His Guiding Hand” was in there. As is Status Quo’s “Down Down”. Just sayin’.

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Medicine Head – His Guiding Hand

Since we’re on the matter of John Peel, many of you will be aware that we’re fast approaching October 25th, the anniversary of his death, and a day where all those musically interested souls who owe such a debt to Peel try do something to honour his legacy. If you’d like to keep abreast of what events are going on, I’d recommend you a) visit the excellent Keeping It Peel blog, and b) follow @keepingitpeel on Twitter.

Anyway, I digress. Here comes Charity Chic, who decides to dip into that list of potential songs which Rol gave us right at the start:

“As Rol correctly points out there could be a link to Between the Wars by Billy Bragg…”

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Billy Bragg – Between The Wars

“…Kirsty MacColl brilliantly covered Days which babylotti mentions above. She also covered Billy Bragg’s New England so that would be nice”

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Kirsty MacColl – A New England

And you lot have clearly caught me in a good mood this week, because here’s a little extra treat for you. Lifted from one of those Radio 1 Live Lounge things (I think, I can’t actually remember where I got this from), but which as far as I know has never been commercially released (hence the less than pristeen sound quality and absence of a proper sleeve) is Kirsty and Billy performing an acoustic version:

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Kirsty MacColl & Billy Bragg – A New England (acoustic)

Moving on, but not quite so swiftly as we did to escape LMFAO, here’s Swiss Adam from Bagging Area:

“The Cure’s Just Like Heaven was memorably covered by Dinosaur Jr. Whose own song “Freak Scene” is one of the best songs ever recorded.”

He’s right you know. It really is:

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Dinosaur Jr. – Freak Scene

Here’s Alyson from What’s It All About, Alfie? who is definitely not a spy:

“If you feel unwell you probably want to find a Cure so will head Down To The Doctors where he/she will make you Feel Good again. Yes it’s Dr Feelgood with Down At The Doctors from me this week.”

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 Dr. Feelgood – Down At The Doctors

Heads up, George is back:

“I have a chain involving Tottenham Hotspur
”

Regular readers will now they’re my team, and Badger’s too, so in a week when we lost our opening game in the Champions League and then lost our main striker for an as yet undetermined period of time through injury, I was a little reluctant to invite George to expand on this.

I need not have worried:

“OK. Robert Smith of The Cure to Tottenham Hotspur footballer (of the 1960/1 double team) Bobby Smith. Tottenham Hotspur play at White Hart Lane (or used to) (Still do, mostly – Sports Ed), and Clay Hart was a country singer whose most famous song begins with these awesome lines “In a broken down apartment house lay a woman in labour
said by the grace of god I’ll have this child with the help of a neighbour”! Spring, by Clay Hart. Only in country music do you get such fabulous lyrics.”

And that, dear readers, is how to do Comment Showboating:

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Clay Hart – Spring

And that just leaves us with one suggestion, and this week that comes from The Swede from Unthought of, though, somehow:

“For my suggestion this week I’m going down the knob-twiddling route once again. David M. Allen co-produced a string of Cure albums, including ‘The Head on the Door’ from which ‘In Between Days’ is taken. Among Allen’s many other production credits is my favourite (and a criminally overlooked) Psychedelic Furs LP, ‘Book of Days’, from which I’ll choose ‘Torch’.”

You can’t beat a bit of know-twiddling in my book (innuendo very much intended), and it’s the type of link that doesn’t appear often enough here.

Anyway, here’s The Psychedelic Furs

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The Psychedelic Furs – Torch

And that concludes all of your suggestions for another week and I’m afraid none of you guessed what the record was in The (official) Chain. But before I reveal all, here’s my two suggestions, and I went down the same route as Alyson and George (with his first suggestion) did, going from The Cure to another word for a cure being a remedy, which led first to this, where Keith and the boys have got not just the poison, but the remedy too, which is one of those Good News/Bad News scenarios:

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The Prodigy – Poison

…which in turn led me to…(don’t worry, I’m not about to go all “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” or “Unskinny Bop” on you. They can keep for another day)…this:

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The Black Crowes – Remedy

Literally not heard that in years, and bloody great it still sounds too.

And so, to the official record and Rol, you are going to kick yourself, as are you CC for picking out the wrong one from his list of semi-suggestions. For the next record in the BBC Chain was chosen following this suggestion:

“… From ‘In Between Days’ to ‘Inbetween-er’
”

Ah well, never mind chaps, eh?

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21. Sleeper – Inbetweener

And that’s that for another week. So please submit your suggestions for songs which you can link to “Inbetweener” by Sleeper, along with your reasoning for the connection, via the Comments section down below.

I’ve got one already, unless one of you lot go and nick it first.

See you next week!

(More soon).

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The Chain #15

Blimey, loads of suggestions to get through this week. More first-time contributors, some returning friends, and above all, some bloody great tunes, 80% of which I’d never even heard before, let alone owned copies of. So it’s been a fun old week, trying to track down the bloody things, with varying degrees of success.

First up this week is George. George would like us to know two things. Firstly, he was first, and second his record is the best thing that will be suggested this week:

“It’s a bit unfair to be the first to post because I have a link to one of the 5 best songs ever made. Sorry to the others, your choices can’t touch this. Dirty Old Town was written by Ewan MacColl, whose father was called William (MacColl), and William just happens to be the first name of the bloke who wrote Jungle Rock. William M. Mizell is better known as Hank Mizell.”

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Hank Mizell – Jungle Rock

Next up, and straight to the point, here’s Charity Chic:

“Ewan’s father may have been William but his daughter was Kirsty. So In These Shoes? please” (See that? “Please”. I mean, there was always going to be a tune by Kirsty in this post, but a little manners go a long way.”)

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15. Kirsty MacColl – In These Shoes?

It’s a big Chain “Welcome Back!” to What’s It All About, Alfie? who writes:

“Dirty Old Town was by The Pogues fronted by Shane MacGowan and Shane has just got himself a brand new set of fine gnashers – The DJ/Actor Goldie also has a fine set of golden gnashers and appeared in the Bond movie The World Is Not Enough which was also the name of the title track by Garbage (fronted by another Scottish “lady” Shirley Manson) – one of my favourite Bond themes ever.”

You’re definitely getting the hang of this.

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Garbage – The World Is Not Enough

And now, it’s a big Chain “Welcome!” to S-WC, who co-writes the fecking wondrous When You Can’t Remember Anything and who was also partly responsible for one of the most entertaining series of posts I’ve read this year over at JC’s the Vinyl Villain: The ÂŁ20 Challenge. Anyway, here are his suggestions. Yes, that’s right. Suggestions. As in plural.

“I’m currently in the Medway Towns, one of which is Chatham, which is a (very) dirty old town. Chatham is the birthplace, home and stomping ground of one Wild Billy Childish. So how about ‘Troubled Mind’ from his band The Buff Medways.”

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 The Buff Medways – Troubled Mind

“Or Chatham is a dirty old town, that is part of Medway, The Buff Medways are also a type of chicken, Chickens lay eggs which leads us to Tom Waits’ ‘Eggs and a Sausage’
”

The phrase “like a duck to water” springs to mind.

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Tom Waits – Eggs And Sausage (In A Cadillac With Susan Michelson)

Next, another big Chain “Welcome!” to Dirk who writes the also wonderful sexyloser blog, who contributes this (pay attention now – Dirk has kindly presented his suggestion in bullet-point format):

“This, of course, is an easy task and the answer should be clear to anyone:

– as we all know the dirtiest town in the world is Azerbaijan’s capital, Baku. Have a look at an according Forbes list if you don’t believe me

– as we all know as well Baku’s probably most famous son is Garry Kasparov. Have a look at Wikipedia if you still disbelieve me

– again, as we all know, ole’ Garry was rather a fine chessplayer, so fine in fact that he was World Champion back in 1986. Again, Wikipedia will be able to confirm this to you

– almost finally, you’d be relieved to hear – 1986 is the very same year that Eton Crop released their groundbreaking ‘Yes Please, Bob’ mini album on Megadisc in the Netherlands

– and track # 5 was, and still is, I would think, called “Chessplayers Are Good Blokes”

So, there can only be one conclusion for the correct tune to follow The Pogues’ Dirty Old Town’: Eton Crop’s ‘Chessplayers Are Good Blokes’, I’m sure you’ll agree, don’t you?”

Well, no actually. There’s no “one” correct tune, Dirk, as these are all perfectly great suggestions (and still more to come). I think we can all agree that your inaugural suggestion wins this weeks “Comment Showboating” Award though:

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 Eton Crop – Chessplayers Are Good Blokes

But, brace yourself folks, we’re about to get all cultured on yo’asses.

Here’s The Swede:

“The song ‘Dirty Old Town’ was originally written by Ewan MacColl for use in his 1951 play ‘Landscape With Chimneys’. MacColl wrote (or co-wrote) a total of 18 dramatic works for the stage, including, in the early 1940’s, an adaptation of MoliĂšre’s ‘Flying Doctor’. In 1978 Hawkwind, working under the guise of Hawklords, released ’25 Years On’, a very good punk/new wave influenced LP, which included a track called ‘Flying Doctor’.

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 Hawklords – Flying Doctor

Next it’s another big Chain “Welcome Back!” to Marie, who has a new, interesting approach to submitting a link, which is to pick up on something one of you has suggested, and take it a step in a different direction:

“The Swede’s entry immediately brought to mind Judy Collins’ version of Bob Dylan’s ‘Time Passes Slowly’. It had been written for “Scratch”, a play by Archibald MacLeish, loosely based on a short story called “The Devil and Daniel Webster” by Stephen Vincent BenĂ©t.”

Cultured, see.

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Judy Collins – Time Passes Slowly

And yet another big Chain “Welcome Back!”to Kay, who has picked up on the fact that a couple of weeks ago Swiss Adam sneaked a second choice through by picking a song by a band I love (Half Man Half Biscuit, on that occasion), and has guaranteed my posting her suggestion by selecting one by a band I love even more:

“I must admit I hadn’t heard dirty old town before, so listened to it and then found out it was written about Salford. So my link is The Smiths – “Bigmouth Strikes Again”, due to the photo of The Smiths outside Salford Lads Club on The Queen is Dead album (inside sleeve I think) [inner gatefold of the original vinyl – Pedantic Ed] and Salford is a bit of a dirty old town (well it was when I lived there).”

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The Smiths – Bigmouth Strikes Again

And finally, here’s The Great Gog:

“As a Mancunian, I was aware of the Salford connection and immediately thought of the highly irritating Salford Jets and Who You Looking At?”

I was intrigued. It’s not often you get someone suggest I post a song by a band they describe as “highly irritating”.

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Salford Jets – Who You Looking At?

I take your point, GG.

Also that one was a right bugger to find a decent copy of.

My turn! And a link which I’m surprised none of you came up with.

“Dirty Old Town” was on The Pogues second album, “Rum Sodomy & The Lash”, which was produced by one Declan MacManus, who is better known as Elvis Costello. In 2008, Costello appeared on Fall Out Boy’s album “Folie Ă  Deux”, providing vocals on the track “What a Catch, Donnie”.

Here’s the one song by Fall Out Boy that I own and quite like:

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Fall Out Boy – Sugar, We’re Goin’ Down

But, what was the official song that linked to “Dirty Old Town”? Well, we’ve already had it. Yup, look up there, at the Kirsty MacColl track that Charity Chic suggested and you’ll see a little “15” in the link. So – bonus points to CC!

So, you know what to do now. Have a wee think. Or a wee and a think. Then, when you’ve finished (and washed your hands) send your suggestions via the Comments section at the bottom, for songs which link to Kirsty MacColl’s “In These Shoes?”

More soon.

The Chain #12

Evening all.

Apologies that your weekly dose of Chain-ness is a little tardy this week; I got a little too preoccupied with the sport (watching, not playing, obviously) on Sunday to find time to write this up for the usual time. Sorry ’bout that.

So, I  left you last week with “Andy Warhol” by David Bowie and asked for your suggestions for songs to link to that record. I didn’t bother to ask for your ideas about what linked that to the official choice by The Rembrandts from the week before, since pretty much every suggestion we had pointed out that Rembrandt was an artist and I would hope that you know that Andy Warhol was one too.

As is starting to become traditional, I’ll post the suggestions in the order that I received them, so to start off, here’s Charity Chic, who said:

“Andy Warhol famously painted a picture of Campbell’s Soup tins. Ali, Robin and Duncan Campbell were members of UB40 who have been famous for more than 15 minutes but were only good for about that period when they recorded songs such as Madam Medusa”

Personally, I’d have added the word “unfortunately” after the word “minutes”, but since a discussion ensued in the Comments which pretty much sums up my feelings towards UB40 and which includes a wonderfully accurate description courtesy of The Swede of any act that flatters to deceive in their early years then proceeds to make utter bilge for the rest of their careers, I’ll not bother, just let you go read it for yourselves.

Anyway, here, from 1980 (when they were still, y’know, alright) and their “Signing Off” album, is “Madam Medusa”:

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UB40 – Madam Medusa

Next up, The Great Gog’s suggestion, which…well, shall we say stole my thunder a little:

“After a serious piece of showboating last time, I’ll calm down a bit this time. Warhol was known for his “fifteen minutes of fame” line. That quarter of an hour time period is mentioned in The Smiths’ “Reel Around The Fountain”, a song I like a lot, but which I’m sure will annoy someone.”

You know Johnny Marr chastised David Cameron a while ago for saying he liked The Smiths, and telling him he’s not allowed to like them? Well, the same goes for anyone annoyed by “Reel Around The Fountain” getting played. You’re not welcome round these parts.

Here’s the digitally remastered version that came out a couple of years ago:

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The Smiths – Reel Around The Fountain

As I say, The Great Gog has suggested the very song I was going to propose, albeit for a different reason. My suggestion was going to be “Reel Around the Fountain” as it’s the opening track from The Smiths debut album, the cover of which features American actor Joe Dallesandro – yes, that bare chested chap up there – in a cropped still from Andy Warhol’s 1968 film “Flesh”. And it needed to be cropped, for the scene the still is taken from features young Joe….erm…let’s call it “enjoying his own company”, shall we…?

So that’s my suggestion blown out of the water (which, coincidentally is something that happens to Joe in a different scene from the same film). So instead, I’m going to give you two songs: one is a great record but for an obvious reason, the other a great record for a much cleverer reason, even if I do say so myself.

Firstly, referencing the very same “fifteen minutes” quote The Great Gog refers to, here’s Kirsty MacColl, with a scathing attack on celebrity culture and commercialism which you can find on her brilliant 1989 album “Kite”:

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Kirsty MacColl – Fifteen Minutes

Not much has changed since 1989, has it?

As for my other choice: well, having got to “Reel Around the Fountain” I was going to quote this NME interview with Morrissey in 1986:

“Obviously most people who write do borrow from other sources. They steal from other’s clothes lines. I mentioned the line ‘I dreamt about you last night and I fell out of bed twice’ in ‘Reel Around The Fountain,’ which comes directly from A Taste Of Honey, and to this day I’m whipped persistently for the use of that line. I’ve never made any secret of the fact that at least 50 percent of my reason for writing can be blamed on Shelagh Delaney who wrote A Taste Of Honey.”

Shelagh Delaney featured on two Smith’s sleeves, the “Girlfriend in a Coma” single, and the US Imported compilation album “Louder Than Bombs”. But it’s to A Taste of Honey that I want to go for my second choice, and to this, the theme tune to the film adaptation of Delaney’s working-class masterpiece:

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Herb Alpert’s Tijuana Brass – A Taste Of Honey

That could have been a lot worse; it could very easily have been “Boogie Ooogie Oogie” by A Taste of Honey. Count yourself lucky.

And now, as they say, for something completely different, courtesy of George:

“…no Comment Showboating here either. Andy Warhol was born in Pittsburgh, and The Vibes made a song called I’m In Pittsburgh (And It’s Rainin’).”

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The Vibes – I’m in Pittsburgh (And It’s Rainin’)

Which just leaves us with The Swede’s suggestion:

“Andy Warhol made in excess of 150 films, including ‘Chelsea Girls’ in 1966. Nico appeared in the film, while the soundtrack was provided by The Velvet Underground . The following year, VU’s Lou Reed and Sterling Morrison wrote the dark ballad, ‘Chelsea Girls’, for Nico’s debut solo LP.

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Nico – Chelsea Girls

Nothing like a cheerful one to round things off, eh?

So, instead, here’s the “official” selection:

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12. Bob Dylan – Song to Woody

So, your suggestions please for:

a) what the official reason to connect “Andy Warhol” by David Bowie to “Song to Woody” by Bob Dylan is, and

b) your suggestions as to what you’d like to hear next that links to “Song to Woody” by Bob Dylan, and your explanation of the link, via the Comments section at the bottom of the page.

More soon.

Friday Night Music Club

Evening all. Hope you’ve all had a good week.

Let’s crack straight on with the next part of the snappily-titled “Songs With The Same Name As Television Programmes, But Which Are Not The Actual Theme Tune, Or A Cover Version Of The Theme Tune Of The Programme In Question” theme.

First up, as I was flicking through the channels the other night, I saw an advert for a new show on E4, not a channel I visit often, which, according to IMDb is a spin-off from a movie franchise I’ve never seen nor, having read the synopsis, do I ever intend to see. Still it gives me the excuse to play this belter from 1988:

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239. Jane Wiedlin – Rush Hour

This was lifted from Wiedlin’s second solo album after The Go-Go’s split (the first time), and was her only solo UK Top 40 hit, making an appearance in BBC1’s Peter Kay’s Car Share. She’s also an actor, appearing as Joan of Arc in Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure amongst other things.

But it’s as the main song-writer in The Go-Go’s, along with Belinda Carlisle, that’s she’s best known, although they remain a very much under-valued band on this side of the pond. They only ever cracked the UK Top 40 once, and that was when they reformed in 2004, when “Has The Whole World Lost It’s Head?” crept up to Number 29. Here’s them performing it on The Late Show:

I’ve touched on The Go-Go’s before when discussing albums my brother brought back from his trip to stay with family in the United States in the early 1980s, and they will feature again here very soon, so I’ll move on.

HAIM are a band who have recently made the breakthrough over here; I say recently, their debut album “Days Are Gone” came out in 2013 and the next track was the fourth single to be lifted from it.

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240. HAIM – The Wire

A few years ago, my brother leant me the box-set of The Wire TV show, a US show which many had touted as being the greatest TV show ever at the time of its airing. In case you’ve never seen it, here’s Charlie Brooker to explain:

This was my first experience of binge-watching, spending many nights checking the time and thinking I could squeeze one more episode in before bed.

There were five seasons of the show (I’ll concede to referring to them as seasons rather than series as it’s a US show), and the opening theme tune was “Way Down in the Hole”, a track written by Tom Waits and lifted from his 1987 album Franks Wild Years (not to be confused with the song “Frank’s Wild Years” on Wait’s 1983 album “Swordfishtrombones”. Each season uses a different recording and a different opening sequence, with the theme being performed by The Blind Boys of Alabama, The Neville Brothers, DoMaje, Steve Earle and Tom Waits himself.

And here they all are:

Moving on: Banderas are one of those bands that I always thought were called The Banderas. That is, until their name popped into my head when thinking of songs to post here and I tried to do some research on them.

Here’s what I found out: they were a female music due from the 1990s (which I knew); they were an off-shoot from The Communards (which I didn’t know, although it kind of rings a bell from somewhere), featuring Communards backing singer Sally Herbert and shaven headed Caroline Buckley (which I partly knew: I remembered the shaved head part. You know, the important detail. This was the early 1990s, tough, and by now we had all seen Sinead O’Connor and such things no longer shocked us); and they are best well-known for this:

Banderas-This-Is-Your-Life-67096

241. Banderas – This Is Your Life (Original Mix)

This shares a name with the long-running UK TV show which featured a celebrity (affectionately referred to as “the victim”) being surprised by the host, invited into a TV studio to be taken through the contents of The Big Red Book, and reintroduced to significant people from their past who would drop in, share a generally rather dull anecdote about the celebrity subject, before taking a seat alongside them if they were family, or opposite them if they weren’t. I often imagined that after they had recounted their uninteresting story from the past, the guest would sit in the chairs opposite, glowering at the celebrity, who probably owed them money, and that after the end credits it all kicked off, family against non-family.

Largely the show was broadcast live, which meant that the newspapers weren’t able to advertise who the “victim” was. Oddly, this seemed to only add to the excitement, millions tuning in for at least the first couple of minutes to see who was going to be on. Non-celebrities were often the subject too, but nobody ever watched them.  (“Who is it this week, Ron?” “Some bloke who was the youngest serving group captain in the RAF.” “Oh. Have you got the remote control?”)

The shows stopped being shown live in 1983 after boxer Alan Minter, surely the Shaun Ryder of the 1980s, couldn’t stop swearing during his episode.

Here’s the iconic, very 60s, theme tune:

Next up, some more Britpop era tunes, and a song which could quite easily have featured in my “How To Do a Cover Version” thread.

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242. Saint Etienne – Who Do You Think You Are?

Nope, I had no idea it was a cover version either. But, whilst scouring t’internet trying to think of smart-arse things to say, I find that it’s actually the fourth version to see the light of day. (In all honesty, the other three are a bit samey, so you could spare yourself a lot of time and just listen to one of them then agree with me that the Saint Etienne version is head and shoulders above them all.)

Written by Des Dyer and Chris Scott, it first saw the light of day in December 1973 when it was released by Candlewick Green (presumably there were copyright issues with being called Camberwick Green):

candlewick-green-who-do-you-think-you-are-basf

Candlewick Green – Who Do You Think You Are?

Then in 1974, Dyer and Scott released it themselves under the name Jigsaw on their album “I’ve Seen The Film, I’ve Read The Book” (there was no T-Shirt for them to buy):

Jigsaw+UK+Ive+Seen+The+Film+Ive+Read+The+514704

Jigsaw – Who Do You Think You Are?

Also in 1974, Bo Donaldson & The Heywoods, deciding the Who Do You Think You Are? market wasn’t quite saturated enough, released their own version, which itself was a follow-up to their cover version of Paper Lace’s “Billy Don’t Be A Hero”:

bo-donaldson-and-the-heywoods-deeper-and-deeper-probe

Bo Donaldson & The Heywoods – Who Do You Think You Are?

But I digress. Who Do You Think You Are? is, of course, also a British genealogy documentary series which has aired on the BBC (initially on BBC2, but on BBC1 from series 3 onwards) since 2004, and in which a celebrity tries to make it look as if they are tracing their family tree themselves rather than just going where the programme makers tell them to, talking to whomever they are told to, whilst blowing fake dust from thick weighty tomes on cue.

Keeping with the Britpop bands asking question subtheme, a song by a band that I think are truly under-rated, many declaring them to be Smiths-lite, a comparison I always thought most unfair. JC wrote about this single a little while ago over on his blog, here, so I won’t dwell on how majestic this song is. Here, just to give you something a little different, is a live version, recorded at the Royal Albert Hall:

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243. Gene – Where Are They Now? (Live At The Royal Albert Hall)

Trying to research the TV show of the same name has driven me a little bit crackers. My recollection is that it was a show in the late 1970/early 1980s, hosted by former Juke Box Jury presenter and BBC stalwart David Jacobs, where he interviewed someone who had once been in the limelight and found out, well, what they were doing now. He also used to pop up on The Kenny Everett Show, mournfully state the name of the show whilst looking straight into camera, before disappearing again. But can I find any evidence of these things anywhere? Nope. The only mention I can find of either is in this on the BBC website. So, you’ll just have to trust me on this one.

One I can provide you with evidence of, however, is Razzmatazz, a music based children’s television programme which ran on ITV between 1981 and 1987. I suppose you could say it was a kid’s version of Top of the Pops, or perhaps more accurately as ITV’s version of Cheggers Plays Pop, but, crucially, without Keith Chegwin.

Here’s the theme tune (although it will probably try and tell you the link has expired; it’s still there you just have to look around for it a bit), and more interestingly, here’s a very young Kirsty MacColl appearing on it:

And, quick, before I start getting all miserable about Kirsty not being around anymore, here’s a just-before-they-went-massive Pulp:

pulp-razzmatazz-gift-recordings

244. Pulp – Razzmatazz

Released in February 1993, this was their final release on Gift Records, and it reached the giddy heights of number 80 in the UK charts. But it was very much laying the foundations for what was about to come: follow-up single “Lipgloss” made number 50; “Do You Remember the First Time?” got to number 33 the following year, closely followed by “The Sisters EP” (number 19) and then…well, the rest is history.

So, to the last one for tonight, and to make things circular, a song with the same name as a TV series penned by Charlie Brooker, released by Canadian collective (they’re all collectives in Canada, have you noticed? Never bands, all collectives) Arcade Fire:

Black_Mirror

245. Arcade Fire – Black Mirror

If you like your TV drama dark and a little disturbing, then I urge you to track some of Brooker’s TV shows down. The only one currently available on Channel 4’s On Demand Service, All 4, is the last one produced for the channel, “White Christmas”, which you can watch here. Sadly, there’s no sign of the first and most infamous episode, “The National Anthem” which first aired in 2011, and telling the story of the kidnap of a (fictional) princess, and the subsequent ransom demand being that (fictional) Prime Minister Michael Callow must have sexual intercourse with a pig on live national television. The episode gained notoriety in 2015 when…well, I’ll let Brooker himself explain:

That’ll do you.

More soon.

Remembering Kirsty

I’m sure I won’t be the only person here in the blogosphere that will be writing a post in memory of Kirsty MacColl today, for today it is 15 years since this astoundingly talented woman was so cruelly taken from us.

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 GonzĂĄlez Nova, multimillionaire president of the Comercial Mexicana supermarket chain, who was on board with members of his family. One of his employees, boat-hand JosĂ© 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 ÂŁ1,425.22 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.

If you’d like to read more about Kirsty and the campaign to get justice, you can do so here.

All of which just makes me…well, sad. And not just because of the injustice, nor for the frankly gruesome nature of her death. That too, of course….but what makes me sad is the fact that whenever I hear any song by her or featuring her, I am immediately reminded of all that I have written so far here today.

Which means whilst I love all I am about to post, I do it with a very heavy heart.

So, let’s start this tribute off with one of her very earliest single, from 1981, the catchily-titled:

kirsty-maccoll-theres-a-guy-works-down-the-chip-shop-swears-hes-elvis-polydor-3

Kirsty MacColl – There’s a Guy Works Down The Chip Shop Swears He’s Elvis

Here’s Kirsty doing the very same song on Top of The Pops:

And, from her debut album “Desperate Character”, a slower, more country, version:

KirstyMacCollDesperateCharacter

Kirsty MacColl – There’s a Guy…(Country Version)

Personally, I always thought that version was very much a template for the next song, a single from 1989’s utterly wonderful “Kite” album:

kirsty-maccoll-dont-come-the-cowboy-with-me-sonny-jim-virgin

Kirsty MacColl – Don’t Come the Cowboy With Me Sonny Jim!

In between these two albums, due to some wranglings of a contractual nature, Kirsty earned her corn doing session work as a backing singer, and became very much in demand, particularly after she appeared on “Fairytale of New York” with The Pogues. Either side of that she appeared on (to name but a few):

The Smiths – “Ask” (not to mention the B-side too, a cover of Twinkle’s “Golden Lights”)

Billy Bragg – “Sexuality” (She looks fantastic in this, happy, the sort of woman you would have a right laugh down the pub with; the bit when she mocks the size of Billy’s….er….lil Bill behind his back always raises a smile round these parts)

Happy Mondays – “Hallelujah” (This is from that legendary edition of Top of The Pops when the Mondays appeared along with The Stone Roses, one of those era defining moments when us indie heads finally felt like we might be winning…and there’s Kirsty, right in the middle of it, wisely electing not to try to out-Bez dance Bez)

Morrissey – “Interesting Drug”(His fourth solo single following the messy end The Smiths met, and there’s Kirsty again, popping up on backing vocal duties, if not in the video. Not one of his better efforts this, mostly only notable for The Moz sneezing as the track edges towards fade-out.)

The Wonder Stuff – “Welcome to the Cheap Seats” (I can’t say I’m overly fond of this one, big fan of The Stuffies that I am. Suffice it to say, in my opinion, Kirsty is by far the best thing about it.)

Without fail, every interview you read given by anyone who worked on any of those records, they will say one, if not all three, of the following things:

  1. What a delight she was to work with
  2. That she never needed a second take, nailing her part first time..
  3. …a skill which inevitably draws comparison with either Karen Carpenter or Dusty Springfield.

That’s the sort of illustrious company in which Kirsty’s name should rightly be mentioned.

But all of this belittles what a wonderful artist she was in her own right. And to prove it, here’s two live performances of songs from what turned out to be her last album, “Tropical Brainstorm”, where she was experimenting with Latin American rhythms, instruments and sounds, not the sort of thing I normally go for, I’ll admit, but since I could happily listen to Kirsty singing my shopping list, I love.

Kirsty MacColl – “In These Shoes?” (Live on Later with Jools Holland)

Kirsty MacColl – “England 2, Columbia 0” (Live on Later with Jools Holland)

And thankfully, Jools is kept well away from the piano, thus preventing it turning into more of his tiresome boogie woogie.

I’ll be raising a drink to Kirsty tonight. Thanks for the memories. I just wish there were more of them.

More soon.

 

1985 and All That (January – April)

Deep breaths. Come on, we can do this.

It is 1985. Oh yes it is. The year that I think it’s fairly safe to say that my record buying took off with a vengeance. And it’s fair to say, it’s quite a mixed bag. Some of which, in direct contradiction to my “There’s No Such Things as a Guilty Pleasure” tag line, I cannot believe I am about to confess in such a public arena that I spent money on.

There, that’s piqued your interest, hasn’t it?

But before we get cracking, some admin. Firstly, as there’s quite a few records for me to reminisce over, I’ll split 1985 into three different posts. Secondly, I can’t really go any further without talking a little more about the behemoth that was Band Aid’s “Do They Know It’s Christmas”, partly because it topped the charts for what seemed forever at the start of the year, but when researching this post I was surprised to find that actually it was toppled from pole position on 13th January.

I think there are two reasons it dropped from the top so quickly:

  • there wasn’t anyone left to buy the bloody thing, and
  • the cynic in me thinks that this is wholly indicative of that British spirit of charity, and how quickly it can be forgotten when it no longer suits. “It’s not Christmas anymore, so we can stop spending our money telling them it is.” The inverse of the current volte-face in opinion regarding the refugee situation, if you will (although pretty much everyone I’ve spoken to has been sympathetic to their cause, it just took the media – and the press specifically – a while to realise they were out of step with what most people were thinking.)

So to kick things off in 1985, a song from 1984, which, in light of the above, and even more so when you look at the shabby scaremongering this week about Jeremy Corbyn, sums up the political bias of the press in typical style.

I guarantee that when you watch this you will think two things:

1: Blimey (or insert your own swear word/exclamation of preference here), doesn’t he look young?, and

2: Blimey (or insert your own swear word/exclamation of preference here),  nothing much has changed since 1984, has it?

It Says Here

But I digress. Where was I? Ah yes – Band Aid and admin. Thirdly, I am obliged to mention The Quo somewhere, so lets get it out of the way now, shall we?

Quo’s Francis Rossi and Rick Parfitt were actually supposed to have lead lines on “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”, but performed them so badly in the studio that they got ditched for Paul Weller, Sting and Glenn Gregory. Their performance is probably explained by the fact that the duo openly admit to turning up at the studio with “shitloads of drugs…coke, dope and all sorts. People were saying, ‘Let’s go and see Doctor Rossi and Doctor Parfitt, shall we?’….” (Rossi has since revealed that he blew ÂŁ1.7 million on coke in the 1980s, which explains not only why most of their records were, with the benefit of hindsight (mine – everyone else knew it at the time) shite, but also why a chunk of his septum fell out).

They also managed to lock Spandau Ballet in the toilets at the Band Aid recording sessions, so…y’know…s’not all bad.

That’s the admin out of the way: on to the hits!

First up, a song I have already written about, and so I’m going to skip past it now. That song is Kirsty MacColl’s version of “A New England” and you can read all about it and listen to it here: self-referential tosser.

Next up, an artist I have a great deal of affection for, without actually owning very many of his records: Terry Hall. By 1985, he had left The Specials, formed Fun Boy Three, co-written “Our Lips Are Sealed” with Jane Wiedlin of The Go-Go’s, given a helping hand to Bananarama’s career by way of a guest appearance on “It Ain’t What You Do (It’s the Way That You Do It)” (or did Banarama appears as guests on the Fun Boy Three’s version? I never did quite manage to work that out), split from Fun Boy Three, and formed The Colourfield.

Truth be told, The Colourfield marked the start of a decline if not in the quality of Hall’s work, then certainly in the commercial success he achieved. This, though, was their first single, and their biggest hit, and rather lovely it is too:

the-colour-field-thinking-of-you-chrysalis The Colourfield – Thinking of You

Don’t go thinking I’d gone all soft though. Nope, at the start of 1985 rawwwwk was very much where my heart still lay, although I would have to admit my tastes were starting to shift towards more poppy territory.

But wait – who’s this coming over the horizon? A Canadian chap in a checked shirt who seems to marry rock and pop together in perfect harmony? Just what The Doctors ordered! And so it was that I bought this:

Bryan-Adams-Run-To-You-vinyl Bryan Adams – Run to You

Now I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking this is one of the records I’m embarrassed to admit to owning, right? Well no, actually. See, in 1985 The Bryster (as nobody has ever called him) was not yet the purveyor of power ballads and Number One hogger that we have since come to know and hate, for whilst it was actually released in 1984, it was in 1985 that his “Reckless” album was, frankly massive. I bought that too, but not just yet, so we’ll come back to that later, but suffice it to say it was packed with, yes, power ballads (“Heaven“), enduring power pop (“Summer of ’69“) – c’mon, everyone loves that record, don’t they? – and a rather shonkingly awful duet with Tina Turner (“It’s Only Love“).

Ah, Tina. Tina Turner. It is to you I turn to present the “What on Earth Was I Thinking When I Bought This???” award for the first part of 1985. I have neither clue nor excuse. Maybe I was blinded by the fright-wig. Maybe it was that “riding an invisible horse” dance she seemed to do. I dunno. But somehow, lurking in my record collection, is this:

tina-turner-priavte-dancer-album-artwork Tina Turner – Private Dancer

But I didn’t just go out and buy the single. Oh no. In fact, I didn’t buy, nor have I ever bought, any of her singles. Not for me on this occasion the usual “Buy first single. Buy second single. Like third single? Buy the album” routine I had safely established. No. To compound my shame, I went straight out and bought the fucking album.

I’ll get my coat.

But no. I won’t. Instead, I’m going to turn things round by posting what to my mind is one of the great lost singles from the 1980s, an absolute belter, and if I had to list my favourite singles of all time, this would be right in there:

the-big-sound-authority-this-house-is-where-your-love-stands-source Big Sound Authority – This House (Is Where Your Love Stands)

Criminally short-lived, Big Sound Authority only released three more singles, none of which managed anything approaching the success of “This House” (which itself only managed to get to Number 21 in the charts) and one album, which also tanked.

And so to Liverpool, and to China Crisis, and a song the title of which I don’t think you’d get away with these days:

China-Crisis-Black-Man-Ray-116071 China Crisis – Black Man Ray

Erm, where do you start? Well apparently, it’s about Ray Charles, but quite why they felt the need to point out he was black I have no idea. Let’s skip swiftly on.

I’ve already written about the other single by the next artiste, the godawful incomprehensible babble that was “The Riddle”. Unperturbed by just how terrible that was, I went and bought the follow up and until I came to write this, I’d forgotten that actually it’s rather good. Of it’s time, sure, but rather good all the same.

Nik_Kershaw_Wide_Boy_Single_Cover Nik Kershaw – Wide Boy

Needless to say, shortly after this, his own pop career nose-dived dramatically, before being ever so slightly resurrected when he wrote this. Yeh, cheers for that, Nik.

And so, to round off this first look back at 1985, another record that would not just join “This House” in my list of my favourite singles of all time, but would unquestionably nestle squarely in the top ten. The Cult were not a band I remember my brother ever owning any records by, but I think his recent radical change in musical taste had probably rubbed off on me enough to make my ears prick up when I first heard this:

the-cult-she-sells-sanctuary-beggars-banquet The Cult – She Sells Sanctuary

If ever a record deserves to be played as loudly as possible, it’s that one. And it still sounds as magnificent to these ears today as it did way back then. And I’m not the only one who thinks so: super-cool DJ Erol Alkan used to regularly drop it in his sets (I’ll try and source an example to post for you sometime) and even I witnessed the power of this record first hand. A couple of years ago, a friend of mine was in a band which did an “Indie-okie” night in North London once a month. (The premise: karaoke, but with a live band playing behind the volunteer singer, who would choose from a list of classic Indie tracks. It was as much fun as it sounds i.e. an enormous amount). They asked Hel and I to DJ on the bits in between and we were more than happy to oblige – in fact it was the first time we DJ’d together. Anyway, as everyone was basically there to either sing or to have good laugh at those who did, nobody was expected to actually dance. But that’s exactly what did happen when I dropped this: the dancefloor didn’t exactly go mental, but it suddenly filled up and there was definite movement, enough for one of the band to tap me on the shoulder and say “Steady on – they’re supposed to enjoy our bits more than the records!”.

Right, that’s yer lot for now. More soon.