Friday Night Music Club

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a very short post – too short, so I’m told – in my “Which Reminds Me…” thread, about Kaiser Chiefs’ “Na Na Na Na Naa”.

That in turn has made me think about how songs with nonsensical titles have played quite a big part in the history of rock and pop, so I thought we’d have a look at some of them tonight.

But just like cafe’s feel obliged to write the words “Warning: Contents May Be Hot”, here’s an advance warning for you: this post contains songs of wildly varying quality. But that’s why you’re here, right? Right….?

So, let’s start with one of the greatest records ever:

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283. The Crystals – Da Doo Ron Ron

Unfortunately, people of a certain age, i.e. me, can’t hear that record without being reminded of this pair:

Not got any funnier with age that, has it?

What is there to say about Little Richard that hasn’t already been said? Well, very little that isn’t defamatory, so we’ll go straight to one of his tunes:

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284. Little Richard – Bama Lama Bama Loo

Bears more than a passing similarity to his own “Tutti Frutti”, that is it…?

In 1986, presumably spurred on by his former Generation X frontman Billy Idol’s solo success, guitarist Bob “Derwood” Andrews formed Westworld. Named after the Yul Brinner movie, the band had two hit singles in 1987: a great one, “Sonic Boom Boy” which made Number 11 in the UK charts, and this not so great one, which made Number 37:

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 285. Westworld – Ba-Na-Na-Bam-Boo

The follow-up single, “Where The Action Is” tanked even more, not even making the Top 40, and when their debut album met with a similarly indifferent response from the UK record buying public, the writing was on the wall for the band.

A few years ago, there was a rather wonderful sitcom on BBC3 called “Him and Her”. Starring Russell Tovey as Steve (the “Him”) and Sarah Solemani as Becky (the “Her”), a young couple living together in a flat where all of the action in the first three series’ took place. With able support from the likes of Joe Wilkinson, Camille Coduri and Kerry sister-of-Russell-Howard Howard, it’s a wonderfully understated show, with no laughter track or studio audience, full of awkward silences and knowing looks. If you haven’t ever seen, I would urge you to check out.

Here’s a clip:

I mention this now because the end credits had this playing over them:

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286. Lulu – Boom Bang-a-Bang

“Him and Her” was written by Stefan Golaszewski, who some of you will know for being part of the comedy sketch group “Cowards”, along with the likes of Tim Key and Tom Basden. He also wrote the equally great “Mum” which is currently showing on BBC2 at 10:00pm on Friday nights, but you wouldn’t know that because you’re here reading this on a Friday night, right? Watch it, it’s great.

More TV related shenanigans now, and a tune which again is guaranteed to bring back some happy memories for those of us “of a certain age”:

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287. The Dickies – Banana Splits (Tra La La)

For those of you who have no clue what I’m talking about, when I was a kid in the 1970s, no Saturday morning was complete without watching The Banana Split Show, which would always be on at about 8am, whetting the appetite for the three and a bit hour feast of middle of the road, middle class niceness that was The Multi-Coloured Swap Shop.

The Banana Splits were a fictional rock band comprised of Fleegle, Bingo, Drooper (I wonder how he got his name….?) and Snorky, who were in essence, and sorry to shatter the illusion, four blokes in weird costumes.

Probably easier if I just show you them, I think:

I so wanted a buggy like that when I was a kid.

Wait – did I just say “Middle of the Road”…?

chirpy

288. Middle Of The Road – Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep

Let’s not dwell to much on that one, eh? Instead, let me direct you this, a song which was just a bit too far ahead of the pack. Released in 1992, had it been three of four years later it would have been one of the great records of the Britpop era, by one of the most underrated  acts, led by one of the most underrated musicians ever – Lawrence, formally of Felt, now of Go-Kart Mozart (unless he’s moved on again), then of Denim. As it was, it was largely, criminally, ignored by the majority of the Great British record buying public, the fools:

I’d hoped to be able to find their appearance on “Later…”, and it’s there on YouTube, but with even worse sound/video quality than that clip. It is rather amusing to read all the “This sounds like something from the 70s” slams in the Comments under that, written by people who really didn’t understand that that was the whole point.

Time for some more puppet-based fun now, but ignore what it says on the sleeve, and give credit where credit’s due:

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289. Mahna Mahna & The Two Snowths – Mahna Mahna

Nope, you’re right. I can’t resist posting the video clip of that:

What’s not to love about that?

To some early 1980s German electro now, and a record which when I saw them perform it on Top of The Pops, the lead singer scared me like nothing else on that show had since Ron Mael had glowered down the camera lens in the 1970s:

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290. Trio – Da Da Da

Next to one of my favourite bands when I was a kid, cementing a place in my affections just after I’d grown bored of Shakin’ Stevens but before I’d discovered the joys of Status Quo, and, crucially, before I’d realised what a pretentious prick Sting was, and, even more crucially, before I’d ever seen him act.

From their 1980 album “Zenyatta Mondatta”, here’s:

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291. The Police – De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da

I say I hadn’t worked out how pretentious Sting was, but the clues are on that album. Who else could write a lyric like this with a straight face:

“It’s no use, he sees her
He starts to shake and cough
Just like the old man in
That book by Nabokov” (from “Don’t Stand So Close To Me”)

Really, Sting? Are we supposed to believe you couldn’t think of something to rhyme with “Lolita”??

Time to round things off for this week, with two stone cold classics.

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 292.Small Faces – Sha-La-La-La-Lee

And finally, you will have done very well to avoid knowing that the Euro 2016 tournament started tonight, with England’s first game on tomorrow. Now, there seems little point in me posting any football related songs – though I have loads – when you can go and pay Football and Music a visit, and find everything you ever wanted to hear, and quite a lot that you don’t (said with affection, I promise – the first comment I ever posted was on this website).

No, instead, I’m going to leave you with this song, because it mentions “Tottenham Hotspur, when they couldn’t get one in” in the lyrics.

It’s looking like there will be five Spurs players in England’s starting eleven tomorrow night. Some of them might even be lucky enough to get played in their preferred position.

I’ll be hoping that one of them, at least, manages to get one in.

You know where I’m going with this, right?

gertcha

293. Chas & Dave – Gertcha

Oh, and good luck to all the Home Nations: Wales (except against us, of course), Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland and…oh, that seems to be the end of the list.

More soon.

Rue Britannia

Ok. So. Here we go. 1984. The year I have to try and wax lyrical about. And as you will have guessed from my intro to the last post, a year I’ve been struggling with.

Let me add some context.

1984. The year that Thatcher won her second General Election, I think it’s fair to say (though it sticks in my throat) trouncing Labour’s Michael Foot. Foot did not look like your common-or-garden politician, and was a true left-winger (and I don’t mean in the Ryan Giggs kind of way. And when. I make a reference to Ryan Giggs, I don’t mean in that kind of way, either. Well not on this occasion, anyway). Foot is as relevant today as he ever was, for he is the current yard-stick for those who want to keep the Labour Party in the centre ground – which they so shamefully currently occupy – rather than on the left, where they should be, by making comparisons between his annihalation in this General Election and that which, they say, awaits the Labour Party if Jeremy Corbyn wins (they’re wrong). And whilst I’m at it: Tony Blair, keep your fecking nose out. You led us into an illegal war and now milk the after-dinner speech circuit for all its worth. You are a Tory in everything but name. Your opinion means nothing.

Ahem. Off my chest now. Where were we? Oh yes..:

1984. The year the Miners Strike started. I’m going to assume you know at least something about this. If you don’t, well a) you’re annoyingly young, and b) may I suggest a bloody tidy jumping on point is to watch the excellent “Pride” (It has Paddy Considine, Bill Nighy and Dominic West in it, the latter with a fabulous 80s haircut. What more can you want from a film??) Just watching those two clips makes me want to watch it again. Hope it does you too.

1984. The year of Frankie Goes To Hollywood. I wish I could put my hand on my heart and say I bought any of their records at the time – particularly “Relax” and “Two Tribes“, but I didn’t. However, I did stand back, watch and admire the way they capitalised on the whole Mike Read situation (he was playing “Relax” one morning, and took it off, mid-record, branding it “obscene”). And if there’s one thing we now know, it’s that Mike Read is the very epitome of rational thought. (I give you two words: UKIP Calypso) (For Gawd’s sake, sense my tone…)

1984. The year of Band Aid, when a group of “current” (has Jody Watley ever been current???) pop stars (has Jody Watley ever been a pop star?????) were pulled together by ex-Boomtown Rat Bob Geldof and current-if-knackered (see, this is where I start to doubt my own sanity. In the video for “Love’s Great Adventure”, there was definitely a bit where Midge asks the film crew to stop while he has a breather. Right? Right????) Ultravox frontman Midge Ure to record “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” in an effort to help starving millions in Ethiopia, after seeing Michael Buerk‘s report on the news, a record which everybody in the UK seemed to buy, and which you know, so I won’t bother posting a link to it here.

Which seems a convenient jumping off point for not the first record I bought in 1984, but the record which somehow got attached to the whole Band Aid campaign, seemingly solely because of the lines “You can’t go on, thinking nothing’s wrong”.

The_Cars_-_Drive The Cars – “Drive”

I’m sure they were delighted, or at least pretended to be, when “Drive” got re-released with “all proceeds” going to the Band Aid charity. And was a bigger hit than it was the first time around (I think…)

Me? I cannot hear this song without thinking of one thing, and sadly that one thing I can find no reference to anywhere on t’internet, other than one other person insisting it happened: Kevin Webster, drunk, singing an a capella version of it on Coronation Street. Seriously, you have no idea how much I wish I could post a link to it right here. Feel free to tell me you remember it too.

Ok, here’s a confessional Guilty Pleasure (No, there is no such thing as a Guilty Pleasure!!) record. Please bear in mind that in 1984 I was just 15 and didn’t know any better, and if I did, I thought it involved Status Quo, so you can choose which is worse:

philip-bailey-easy-lover-duet-with-phil-collins-1985 Philip Bailey & Phil Collins – “Easy Lover”

In my defence, in 1984 we knew very little about Phil Collins. All we had to go on was that he used to be/still was in Genesis, popped up with alarming regularity on Swap Shop or Saturday Superstore or whatever incarnation of Saturday morning TV on the BBC was on (regularly enough to make you think he was the new BA Robertson) and had a fairly succesful solo career doing Diana Ross covers. We did not know that “Sussudio” – the song with the most 80s bassline in the world. Ever…! – would earn extra brownie points for being mentioned (ironically, I think/hope) in American Psycho. We had no idea he was such a douchebag he would fax his wife to thrash out details of their divorce. But props for the use of a very 80s mode of communication. Nor did we know that that gorilla would boff the heck out of some drums on that Cadbury’s advert. It was just Phil Collins. He seemed harmless enough.

I cannot hear this song without thinking of the (slightly amended) “He’s a greasy lover…” introduction Mark Lamarr used to get on Shooting Stars, and which again, I can find no evidence of. So to make up for that, here’s him – at the end of the clip, and sadly cut short – doing “Mr Boombastic” on said kind-of-game show.

The other thing I remember most about owning this single is that shortly after purchase, a blob of what appeared to be raspberry jam appeared on the front cover, which I have never been able to explain (I’m more of a blackcurrant man, myself), and which frankly made storing my 7″ singles a bit of a nightmare from hereon in. Unable to remove the saccahrine splodge, I had to proceed to select which single I liked least and place that next to this in my ever growing singles box.

This is what you come here for, right? Anecdotes about singles I’ve absent-mindedly spilled preservatives on….? No….?

OK, well how about I give you the top two candidates to be the bread around the Phil Collins jam sandwich? Yeh, see? Now you’re interested, right? (Although the idea of a “Phil Collins sandwich” is kind of ewwwwwwwwwwww-y….)

Well, it must have been in 1984 that I abandoned any pretence of just buying records that I liked, and, in a fairly obvious attempt to ingratiate myself to members of the opposite sex, I started buying records that they liked, and which I hoped they would like me for also buying. What a dasterdly master-plan. That is the only explanation I have for the inclusion of the next two records:

Nik_Kershaw_The_Riddle_12__Cover Nik Kershaw – The Riddle

I Know, I know. There’s no excuse is there? It’s not as if this is a single from his famous, but still not actually very good, “Human Racing” album. I have always found this to be an utterly ludicrous record, with clunky 6th form, Tolkien-esque nerdo lyrics like this (trust me, I’m doing this so you don’t have to click that last link) :

“Near a tree by a river
There’s a hole in the ground
Where an old man of Aran
Goes around and around
And his mind is a beacon
In the veil of the night
For a strange kind of fashion
There’s a wrong and a right
But he’ll never, never fight over you”

What a load of old horseshit.

And speaking of old horseshit, there was this:

123_the_wild_boys_song_spain_006_20_0381_7_duranduran_com_duran_duran_discography_discogs_wikipedia Duran Duran – The Wild Boys

Yes. I bought this. Actually, I think I stole it from a reputable vendor of 7″ singles no longer with us. but either way, I possessed a copy, and the only justification I can think of, other than trying to impress girls (it didn’t work, by the way; they all just assumed I was gay, I was later told) was that I hoped that with enough plays on Top of the Pops, Simon Le Bon might actually fucking drown whilst tied to a windmill in that video.

Which leads me on to the other two significant episodes in my pop history which just so happened to occur in 1984.

Firstly, Britannia Music.

Anyone of a certain age will remember Britannia Music: firstly, because The Brits are named after them (like that’s a recommendation….) and secondly because in the 1980s you could not open a magazine without a “3 for £10” introductory offer falling out into your lap. And I fell for it.

Here was the deal: you could pick 3 albums and have them for £10; then you stayed as a member for as long as you liked, but had to purchase at least one album a month. And to help you keep your end of the contractual bargain, they would send you a little brochure each month, telling of their wares, and featuring an “Album of the Month”. If you didn’t want the “Album of the Month”, you had to tick a box on a form and send it back to them, pronto. Otherwise you got lumbered with whatever their Album of the Month was and had to pay for the privilege. I was often a little tardy, and consequently ended up with a lot of records I really didn’t want, more of which later. That’s my excuse, and I’m sticking to it.

Anyway, what this did do was allow me to indulge in my love of Greatest Hits albums, which led me to buy the next three:

Dusty-Springfield-Greatest-Hits-229304 Dusty Springfield – “I Close My Eyes And Count To Ten”

I can’t pretend this song is the reason why I bought this album – that distinction has to go to either “I Only Want To Be With You” or “You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me” But if I absolutely had to name my favourite 10 songs ever, “I Close My Eyes…” would be right in there, an absolute gem, all slow building breathiness followed by more glorious camp strings than a cub scout jamboree.

Speaking of camp…..

little_richard-greatest_hits_recorded_live Little Richard – “Tutti Frutti”

(Suddenly realises why the girls may have thought I was gay at school………)

buddy-lives Buddy Holly – “It Doesn’t Matter Anymore”

A song I was aware of through my father’s record collection, for he owned the Linda Rondstadt version. (That Don Kirschner chap is just the dictionary definition of charisma, isn’t he?)

Anyway, that’s the records I intentionally bought via Britannia, and here’s another, an actual record from your actual 1984:

Alison_Moyet_-_Alf Alison Moyet – “Invisible”

See, “electronic” music had at least crossed my radar, not that I would describe this as falling in that genre. But, as I’m sure you know, chicken-rearing Alison (a remembered Smash Hits fact, that) had been one half of Yazoo with Vince Clarke, ex-of Depeche Mode, soon-to-be of Erasure, and in-between jointly responsible for this. So, y’know, it wasn’t all about the guitars with me, even back then. Just mostly.

Invisible was the third single from the album, and I could have just as easily posted “All Cried Out”, but Invisible deftly sums up my appeal to the opposite sex at this point in my life. And for much of it afterwards, if I’m being honest. Which I am, of course.

As I write this now, I’m suddenly struck with how I much I love songs about either failed or unrequited love. It’s an empathy thing, I think. It would also explain why, two years earlier, in an example of what can only be described as the most optimistic thinking ever, I had told my best friend that when the situation arose that I had to finish with a girlfriend, I would simply quote the lyrics to this song to her: Chas. Dave.

Anyway, the second significant episode was my brother going to stay with relatives in America, and coming back tooled up with loads of records popular in The States but which had no impact on this side of the pond. Records which I listened to with growing interest:

One-On-One521X Cheap Trick – “If You Want My Love”

Rick-Springfield-Working-Class-Dog-446049 Rick Springfield – “Jessie’s Girl”

MI0003737936 The Call – The Walls Came Down

51zBNqv3MRL The Fixx – One Thing Needs to Another

He also bought me this, a band I assumed were American, but turned out to be from Sheffield. A band who had a drummer with one arm. (Actually, he still had two arms when this album was recorded; it was when their next album, “Hysteria”, post arm-loss, came out in 1987 that they went truly stratospheric). But I was there first, UK rock fans. Although I’m not so sure this is something to be proud of..

d57644845a691f8807578e551b473654ae4281f9 Def Leppard – Photograph

But of all the records my brother brought back from the U S of A with him, there was one band that I totally fell for: The Go-Go’s. Featuring Belinda Carlisle and Jan Wiedlin, they became my pop star crushes to supercede Debbie Harry, five girls who so Google tells me, were the recipents of the 2,444th star on the LA Walk of Fame. Should have got there earlier, ladies. If only you didn’t take so long getting ready, eh lads?

vacationcover2 The Go-Go’s – Vacation

And then there’s this, another contender for my Top Ten of Greatest Records Ever……!

go_gos The Go-Go’s – Our Lips Are Sealed

And if I’m going to post that link, then, since it was co-written by Terry Hall, ex-Special and (at the time) current one of the Fun Boy Three, I have to post this too:

the-fun-boy-three-our-lips-are-sealed-chrysalis Fun Boy Three – Our Lips Are Sealed

And finally on a Go-Go’s theme, allow me to nudge you in the direction of “Freedom of Choice”, an album of punk and new wave covers including Yo La Tengo, Sonic Youth and this, by Redd Kross, a band whose own output I’m not a fan of, but by God they know how to knock out a cover version:

R-839350-1273804434_jpeg Redd Kross – How Much More

Considering I could think of nothing to say, I don’t half go on, don’t I…..?

Like anything I’ve posted today? Then go buy it here: the internet.