Happy 50th, Shit Elvis!

It’s almost four years since I started writing this blog.

I mention this not because I want recognition for the longevity of it – although it is a minor miracle that I haven’t got bored of it yet – but to make a point.

Which is that I really didn’t expect I’d still be writing it now. And sometimes, the fact that I am still going causes me a bit of a problem.

You see, as long term readers will know, I use this place not just to furnish you with (hopefully) entertaining bon mots and tunes I like and hope you do too, but to pass on my best wishes to friends and family when birthdays and moments of significance happen. Because, y’know, I’m too cheap to actually buy them a present or send a card – surely a mention and a tune on here is better than either of those things, right?

But, the thing is, the longer I write things here, the harder it becomes to write something new about the subject in question on their special day.

Take my brother, for example. He lives in India (for now, until the FEDs catch up with him) so we don’t see each other often, maybe once or twice a year. And so when he has a birthday, this is my medium for letting him know I’m thinking of him.

And when he hits a significant birthday, like he does today, his 50th birthday, I feel that I ought to pull out the stoppers and write something worthy of such an occasion.

But when I’ve written about him and the influence he has had on me and my music collection so many times already, what more is there to say?

Well, he often points out (when I mention somebody or something from our dim and distant past, or when it comes to our parents’ birthdays or wedding anniversaries, all of which I assume he would remember but email him to check),  ‘I’m the one in charge of remembering stuff’, so perhaps there’s quite a lot.

He’s probably my longest serving reader (I hate the word follower – I’m not the Messiah, I’m a very naughty boy, to misappropriate a famous quote), and if he isn’t then he’s certainly the family member who has been reading the guff I write here for the longest.

When he started reading this, he was very supportive; often I’d receive an email or a text from him telling me he liked what I’d written. He’s also the only person to so far accept my invitation to write a post for this place and have it published (I have a couple in reserve before the authors of those take offence). You can read that here, and I have re-upped the links should you wish to listen to any of the songs mentioned. It’s annoyingly good (although I did send him back to rewrite it at least once, a process that he rightly compared to being back in double English class); I’ve just re-read it and laughed quite a lot.

I first told him about this place in January 2015, when he and I went to see The Jesus & Mary Chain perform their legendarily awesome “Psychocandy” album at The Troxy in East London. If there’s one band who will forever unify us, then it’s them: a band he loved when he was in his full-on Goth mode in the mid-80s, and a band that sweet naïve young me tried to resist the allure of, but could not. So this seems to be an appropriate moment to have our first musical interlude:

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The Jesus & Mary Chain – Some Candy Talking

I bought the tickets for that gig as a present, but actually it was payback for him buying me two tickets to go and see Squeeze back in 1987, when they had just reformed with Jools “boogie woogie” Holland in the line-up, on the tour to promote their “Babylon and On” album. Which is a cue for another song, I think. But not from that album, because it’s not very good.

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Squeeze – Another Nail in My Heart

I’m painting this as a quite the harmonious relationship, aren’t I? It wasn’t always thus.

I don’t think he would argue much if I said that for quite a long time, when we were kids, we really didn’t like each other much, or rather liked each other only in that “You’re my brother so I have to like you” kind of way. We fought a lot. Our childhood is littered with stories about how we managed to break stuff whilst fighting, most notably a violin bow (we both somehow ended up trying to learn how to play the screeching instrument when we were in Junior School) and a few years later, a snooker cue, which I distinctly recall breaking when I twatted him with it across the small of his back. Trust me, he was asking for it.

But I also remember the night that changed.

We had been growing closer as we got older, and saw less of each other, which may not be coincidental; also he and his mates Rob and Phil had asked me to join them as representatives of their local pub in a Pool League. I was alright at pool at the time, indicative of a wasted childhood, although I would often try a ridiculously adventurous shot which would result in me accidentally potting the black. I don’t think I won a single game for them.

It was the journeys to the away matches that I loved, cruising round the sleepy backwaters of local villages, ‘Mary Chain and Sisters of Mercy blasting from the car stereo – those trips probably did more to meld my musical tastes than anything else. I was in a gang, albeit a gang who were terrible at pool, and since they liked this kind of music it seemed appropriate that I should too.

I remember the night that we buried the hatchet, when no more snooker cues would be broken. It was his birthday, either his 19th or 20th, and we went to the local pub. We drank and chewed the fat, and on the short walk home he turned to me and said “You’re alright really, aren’t you?”

Which may not sound like much a of a compliment, but after ten years plus of battering each other, it was like the Good Friday talks writ small. And the feeling was mutual.

And since then, well, we’ve been friends. Which may not sound like much to most of you, but bearing in mind how much we fought when we were kids, and how infrequently we see each other, I’m pretty chuffed about.

As you will know if you’ve read that post he wrote, he joined the RAF at a young age, and remained in its loyal service, rising to the rank of Sergeant, until the early 2000s, when the offer of early retirement and a decent pay-off was too good to decline. And so it was that the family was invited to an RAF base in Lincolnshire to pay witness to him leaving the forces.

I say the family, but rules are quite archaic on an RAF base; women were not allowed into the hall where a set meal and a presentation took place to honour all that were leaving, so my Dad, my brother and I went and ate, drank and were merry for an afternoon, whilst Mum had to entertain herself elsewhere.

Afterwards, we retired to the Officer’s Mess, where my Mum was permitted to join in; and there was a further perk – a subsidised bar. Not a free bar, a subsidised one, so the drinks were ridiculously cheap: 50 pence (I think, though it may have been 20p) for whatever you wanted to drink, on the proviso that whenever you bought a drink, you bought the person serving you one too. Deal.

People who know me will be able to guess what happened next: a long afternoon and evening of drinking Jack Daniels and coke, a family trait, it turned out, as was commented on by many of my brother’s colleagues. I lost count of the amount of people I was introduced to who said something along the lines of “Oh Christ, does he drink as much of that stuff as you do?”

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Gene – Fill Her Up

The next day, in a severely hungover state, my Dad told me that he couldn’t believe how much my brother and I had drunk the night before: we had, apparently, drunk nothing but Jack Daniels from about five in the afternoon until chucking out time (and even then we moved on to a different bar) at a rate of a new double every fifteen minutes or so. “I saw them change the bottle at least six times”, he said, in a tone pitched somewhere between concern and awe.

And then there was my brother’s actual demob party. For years he had a yearning to do the Monopoly Challenge – to have a drink in a bar at every location listed on a standard UK Monopoly board in one afternoon. And wouldn’t you know it, he invited me along, provided I brought my drinking trousers with me.

I buckled up.

And so it was that I travelled up from Cardiff to London one Saturday, met up with him and a bunch of his squaddie mates – the names of whom escape me, mostly (there was, I think, a Pete and a Jeff) for reasons which will become perfectly obvious if it hasn’t already – and at mid-day I was bundled into a stretch limo at Kings Cross Station that they had hired for the day.

See, it turns out that my brother wasn’t the only person in the world who wanted to play this drinking game on a grand scale. In fact, there are companies who run specific tours allowing the party to play this game, with a pre-determined route taking you to a bar at every stop on the board. The only difference is that the driver wants to take you to each destination according to whichever was nearest; we, however, instructed him that we had to do it sequentially, in order, even if that meant it would take longer than to do it the way the limo company wanted you to do it.

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Echo & The Bunnymen – The Game

What I wanted to do now was post a song which links to every property on the Monopoly board as I recounted what happened in which bar, but that proved too arduos a task (plus, my memory is kind of fuzzy about the whole day, so a running commentary is simply out of the question). So instead, here’s a song related to the Jail square:

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Gomez – Get Myself Arrested

Safely ensconced in the bosom of my new-found drinking partners, I was plied with a flute glass filled with a mixture of Guinness and champagne. Sounds revolting, turns out it was alright.

And then there was the Space Dust.

You remember Space Dust, right? A powder you placed on your tongue which popped and pinged and fizzed. This stuff:

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Except the decision was made that we could not consume the Space Dust in the traditional manner. Instead, if we wanted to have some then it had to be ingested nasally.

This sounded like a blast to me, with a couple of Guinness and Champagne combos sloshing around inside me. And so, rolled up twenty pound note at the ready, I gave it a go.

Such an anti-climax. Rather than fizzing and popping in my nose as I had hoped, it just kind of congealed and sat there, like a big lump of snot. Kids take note: drugs , don’t do ’em.

Oh, one more thing you need to know before I report on the events of the day: his squaddie mates had insisted he dressed as Elvis (Presley, not Costello), so for the entire day he was wearing a white jumpsuit, a pair of 70s sunglasses, and a wig which slowly deteriorated as the day progressed.

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Manic Street Preachers – Elvis Impersonator: Blackpool Pier

And so, to Old Kent Road we went, then Whitechapel Road (to a bar which proudly advertised the fact that the Krays used to drink there) and so to The Angel Islington, and to a bar which I forget the name of, but which seemed to be a real old school boozer.

It was remarkably busy for that time of day; split into two rooms, the squaddies squeezed their way into the room next to where I was pinned; I could see through the doorway that it appeared to be very full, quite raucous, with all of the men – and it was only men – looking in the same direction. I assumed there must be some sport on the TV in that room, and focused my attention on my beer.

Until…

Until a naked Japanese woman thrust a pint glass with pound coins in it under my nose. At which point the penny dropped.

She shook the pint glass.

“You see my show?” she said.

“Erm…no…I didn’t…sorry…” I replied, trying desperately to maintain eye contact.

“But you see me now?” she said, and gestured past her neck level.

Now that’s cheating, I thought. I haven’t asked to be here, I’ve not asked to see you all nudey, and even if I had, I haven’t seen the traditional transitional clothes on-to-off sequence which generally is the thing men are willing to pay to see. All I’ve seen is a naked woman thrust a pint glass under my nose, and this was a regular sight at 3am on Caroline Street in Cardiff.

I made my excuses, downed my drink and went outside for a cigarette.

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The Cramps – Naked Girl Falling Down the Stairs

Before I go any further, I would like to stress that no naked girls were harmed in the making of this post. One of the bevy of beauties who continually go-go dance in my flat did fall downstairs once, but that was entirely coincidental, and the man who lives in the flat below me was most appreciative.

Get to the Orange properties on the Monopoly board, as we did around 5pm-ish on the day, and you’re faced with a bit of a problem: there are no pubs or bars on Vine Street. We asked the driver what we should do, and he pointed us in the direction of a pizzeria, where, as long as you bought some food, you could also buy beer. The address of the place wasn’t on Vine Street, but half of the restaurant area looked out onto it. That’ll do, we thought, and several rounds of garlic bread later, we had another one ticked off. This seems appropriate:

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The Vines – Ride

By this time, bladders were full, so the concept of “Little Boy’s Wee” was introduced.

Worry not, we’re not about to go all Yew Tree on you.

Because we had reached the stage where most of us would be ready to visit the Gents, the jeopardy that was “Little Boy’s Wee”  was introduced. And that was this: if you went into the gents and encountered a fellow Monopoly member who wasn’t peeing like a little boy – that is, pants AND trousers around your ankles as you stood at the urinal, bare arse on display – then the next round was for the pee-er to get in.

I got some funny looks in that bar.

And so to the Red properties, and I wouldn’t be doing my job properly if that didn’t mean I post this…

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Roxy Music – Do The Strand

…but nothing of any interest happened on The Strand.

Trafalgar Square, on the other hand, was quite the opposite kettle of fish.

Our driver pulled up at Trafalgar Square, where we found the whole area was cordoned off. A stage, empty, stood at one end. Clearly, something was due to happen there in the next day or so. This, since my brother had decided he wanted to paddle in the fountains, was a problem.

We strutted up to the cordon, where we were greeted by a security guard.

“Sorry lads, no entry” he said, sort of firmly.

At which point, one of the squaddies – it may have been Pete, it may have been Jeff, it may have been one of the others – cocked a thumb in my brother’s direction. My brother, don’t forget, is dressed as 70s Elvis.

“Erm…but he’s the talent for tomorrow night,” he said. “This should have all been cleared. We’re just here to look the venue over and make sure it meets with the talent’s requirements.”

Unbelievably, the security guard, rather than phoning it in to check, just lifted the cordon and said “OK then, in you go.”

At which point, a man dressed as Elvis ran forwards, dived into the fountain, resurfaced and started telling everyone to “Come on in, the water’s lovely. Uh-huh-huh”

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Los Campesinos! – You! Me! Dancing!

(The relevance of that record will become clear if you listen to the talkie bit at the end: “And then on the way home, it always seems like a good idea to go paddling in the fountain, and that’s because it IS a good idea.”)

From out of nowhere, several more security guards arrived and escorted us back past the cordon. I heard one of them chastising the guard who had let us in: “They’re just a bunch of pissheads. One of them is dressed as a shit Elvis. Did you really think all thisis for a Shit Elvis that’s playing here tomorrow night??”

Mate, if you’re reading this and lost your job as a result of that, I’m really sorry.

And so on to a bar in the proximity of Trafalgar Square, a bar which we found had a basement room which was hired out for private functions, and on this particular Saturday was being used for a wedding reception.  A basement room with a woefully under-staffed bar, which meant that many of the guests came upstairs to the regular bar, where we were, to get served.

Including the groom.

Now putting aside for a moment the reason why the groom is having to buy his own drinks at his own wedding reception, what this meant was that he clapped eyes on my brother. Still dressed as Elvis, albeit as slightly bedraggled Elvis.

“My wife…my new wife…loves Elvis….” the groom announced.

We all nodded in consent. His new wife was wise. He had chosen well. Elvis was pretty good.

“You know what would make her special day even more special?” the groom continued.

We all looked at our shoes. We knew where this was going.

“If Elvis sang at her wedding reception!”

Silence.

“Would you do that for us, on the happiest day of our lives…?”

I looked at my brother. There’s no way he’ll agree to this, I thought.

And then a look came over his face. A look that said: this is something to tell my grandchildren about. The sort of thing that one day my younger brother will write about on the blog he hasn’t even thought about starting to write yet.

“Yes I will, Sir,” he said, appropriating the accent, “but I don’t know any Elvis songs all the way through.”

“That’s okay”, proffered Pete/Jeff/one of the other squaddies, “we’ll help you out.”

And so we were all ushered downstairs, to a very full room of wedding guests, who all stopped what they were doing as we walked in. Like that scene in “An American Werewolf in London” when they walk into The Slaughtered Lamb. That. This:

“Darling”, announced the groom, “fate brought us together, and fate has led this gentleman here tonight too!”

At which point, my brother, soaked to the skin in a white sequinned Elvis suit, wig drooping down so it was more like a centre parting than a quiff, broke into the opening lines of a song:

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Elvis Presley – Love Me Tender

And now imagine him stumbling over the words before the end of the second line, and his mates ploughing in to carry him to the end of the first verse, without the slightest whiff of a harmony being employed.

Except me. I had, I thought, wisely hung back from the group and therefore avoided any participation in the group “singing”.

Moving back upstairs, and separate from the group, and therefore vulnerable, like a gazelle picked off by a lioness, I was approached by a chap who asked if we were all in the forces.

I, in my drunken state, decided it was easier to say “Yes, we’re all in the RAF” than to try and explain that I had never been in any of the Forces, but that my acquantances were either in the RAF, just about to leave the RAF or had just left the RAF.

Big mistake.

The chap who has enquired, it transpired, had tried to get into the RAF, but failed, and he wanted to know a) why that might be (so we discussed his medical history), and b) as much technical detail about engines and wings and stuff (of which I know nothing) that I could muster in case he ever reapplied.

I managed twenty minutes of utter bullshit to this guy, only interupted by Pete/Jeff/one of the other squaddies butting in to tell my conversationalist friend what a guy I am and how if you got me started on the concept of inverted wingry, I’d never stop. Cheers, guys.

We finally made it to Mayfair, the final square on the Monopoly board. All that was open was a restaurant, so we all piled in there and ordered a victory drink at 23:55.

By this point, I knew I was done, so after finishing my final drink in a Mayfair restaurant, I sloped off to hail a taxi. All of the other guys were staying in a hotel, but I had asked Hel if I could utilise her sofa-bed for the night.

I fell into the back of a black cab, and, having provided the name of the road Hel lived on, I also offered these wise words:

“And yes, I am really pissed, and no I’m not from round here, but if you take the long way to her house, I will know and I will run off without paying.”

He would have easily caught me if I tried.

The cab dropped me off outside Hel’s flat, but instead of just going in, I wandered off (after paying him, of course).

Forty-five minutes later, I rang Hel to ask her why her flat had moved to a place I couldn’t find. She came out to collect me, and will often tell me now – after we shared a flat together for four years and regularly got very drunk together – that she has never seen me that drunk before or since.

All your fault, Big Brother.

Which just leaves me to think of a tune which appropriately ties this all together, and I’ve thought of two.

Firstly, since we all doubtless slept exceedingly well that night, this, by a band I first listened to because my big brother regaled me with stories of a wild gig of theirs he went to, where one of the band members kept bashing his own head with a tea-tray as a means of percussion:

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The Pogues – Lullaby of London

…although perhaps, this is more appropriate:

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Terry Scott – My Brother

Happy 50th Birthday to my lovely, lovely brother. May all of your Formula Ones be slightly less tedious than the last.

More soon.

The Chain #33

So this is what Thursday looks like, is it? I’m not sure I care for it much. It’s no Wednesday, is it?

We ended last week with the 32nd record in The Official Chain, “Valley Girl” by Frank Zappa, and my usual open invitation for suggestions for songs which can be linked to that.

And, as usual, the usual diverse range of songs came in, linking a numerous amount of clever, corny, obscure, obvious, tenuous or terrific ways. This week, for a change (and because it’s a lot easier) we’re going to look at them in the order they came in.

Also this week, as I was struggling for ideas for my own suggestions, I seem to have developed a new catch-phrase.

First out of the traps this week was Charity Chic from Charity Chic Music, with a suggestion which truly fulfils the remit of the name of this here blog:

“‘Frank Zappa and the Mamas were at the best place around’ according to Deep Purple on Smoke on the Water”

Altogether now: Der-der-der, der-der-de-der, der-der-der-der-der…..

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Deep Purple – Smoke on the Water

That’s taken from their 1972 album “Machine Head”, an album which my brother owned when we were kids, on gatefold vinyl. When opened, this was the collage which greeted you:

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As you may be able to see, each of the band member has their photo with their name on the right hand side – there’s Gillan, Blackmore, Glover, Lord, Paice, and then on the left, just one photo bears a name, a name which my brother and I found hilarious when we were kids: Claude Nobs.

This sounded to us like one of those comedy innuendo names, like Ivor Biggun or Hugh G. Rection. But actually, Nobs is there for a reason. He does not appear on the record. He is not one of the sound technicians. During Zappa’s concert, when the fire that the song tells the story of broke out in the Montreux Casino, started by a fan firing a flare into the ceiling, Nobs was a hero, saving several young people who had hidden in the casino, thinking they would be sheltered from the flames.

He still has a funny name, mind.

Anyway, if you’re going to suggest that, then I’m going to suggest this version, just in case you think that what that song needs is less guitar riffs, and more salsa brass:

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Senor Coconut – Smoke On The Water

If that version isn’t on Strictly Come Dancing some day, then…well, I won’t have the faintest idea, as I never watch it.

Over to the Great Gog now:

“Frank Zappa’s band were the Mothers Of Invention which set me thinking about anything referring to invention / inventiveness or whatever, and inevitably our old friends, Manic Street Preachers cropped up with ‘Another Invented Disease’.”

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Manic Street Preachers – Another Invented Disease

I think sooner or later I’m going to have to draw up a league table of the acts who have featured the most in The Chain. The Manics have to be right up there, along with Kirsty MacColl and maybe The Bluetones.

“Also springing to mind on a separate train of thought,” continues the Great Gog, “was a band who I’m guessing didn’t name themselves purely to be next to Zappa in the record store racks, but achieved that anyway. That will be Zapp and the only song I can recall of theirs is ‘It Doesn’t Really Matter’ – and it didn’t to the Great British record-buying public at least, because it wasn’t much of a hit.”

And here’s why I think that was: because we just weren’t ready for someone trying to sound like Prince after he’d had a vocoder forcibly inserted:

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Zapp – It Doesn’t Really Matter

Here’s Rol from My Top Ten, with the first of many “Frank” links:

“Tom Waits – Frank’s Wild Years. I won’t come up with a better song than that this week.

Although I might come up with a few worse ones.”

Time will tell, eh, readers?

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Tom Waits – Frank’s Wild Years

And since we’re on Frank’s, well if you’re going to suggest that, then I’m going to suggest this:

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The Frank and Walters – After All

Time to welcome back Dirk from Sexyloser, conspicuous by his absence the past week or so, and, from the length of his suggestion, keen to make up for lost time:

“That’s an easy one and one that links to one of my favourite tunes in the history of the whole wide world ever: how cool is that? Now, Zappa had this song on the album “Ship Arriving Too Late To Save A Drowning Witch”, which was released in 1982. Now, if you have a closer look at the lyrics of “Valley Girl”, you start wondering who stole from whom when you take into consideration that The Valley Girls’ “Marina Men” (a m.i.g.h.t.y. tune, friends!) was ALSO released in 1982: if some expert now told me that the Valley Girls’ 12″ came out first, my life would be complete, believe me!”

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Valley Girls – Marina Men

“Plus,” Dirk continues, “in order to show you that I’m a friend of the stars: one of the first comments I received when I started sexyloser years and years ago came from Pamy out of The Valley Girls: she thought it was cool to see the record being brought up again some 25 years after its release. Had I already known about the Zappa – tune then, I would have asked her for the exact release date straightaway! So Pamy, if you’re reading this, who was first: you or Zappa? Also, as a kind reminder: I’m still waiting for this lyric sheet, alright?!”

I don’t think she reads this, Dirk. Not unless one of you is about to suddenly rip a mask away from your face to reveal your true identity, like the owner of the run-down, reputedly haunted, circus in every episode of Scooby Doo ever.

Charity Chic is back, with two more suggestions now, one absolute belter, and one…er…less so. I wonder if you can guess which one is which?

“The Skids who recorded the mighty ‘Into the Valley’ were from Dumfermline…..”

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Skids – Into The Valley

“So too is Barbara Dickson who recorded the not so mighty ‘Answer Me’.”

Don’t you go bad-mouthing Dickson on my watch, CC! For me, Dixon epitomises Saturday night TV in the 1970s, since she seemed to be the guest singer on every episode of “The Two Ronnies” ever:

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Barbara Dickson – Answer Me

Over now to The Robster from Is This the Life?:

“What immediately sprang to mind was Our Frank by Morrissey, but you had a Moz tune on the previous episode, so…”

Yes, so? That’s not a reason not to have another one by him this week:

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Morrissey – Our Frank

“…Fresh from seeing Pixies in Cardiff last night, and with my body still recovering from a full TWO HOUR onslaught in the mosh-pit, my mind turns to lead singer Black Francis. Now he has released records under the alternative name Frank Black. In 2000, with his backing band The Catholics, he recorded an album called ‘Sunday Sunny Mill Valley Groove Day’, the title track of which was a cover of the Sir Douglas Quintet track. The album was never officially released, although Frank did distribute some copies at gigs. He re-recorded the track for his 2005 album ‘Honeycomb’ while other tracks ended up as b-sides or on compilations. It also provides a double-link for The Chain!”

Frank + Valley = double- linker!

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Frank Black – Sunday Sunny Mill Valley Groove Day

Well, if you’re going to suggest that, then I’m going to suggest this, my own double-linker, one of the greatest Northern Soul tunes ever, and frankly (see what I did there), I can’t believe nobody else suggested it this week:

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Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons – The Night

Now if anyone was ever going to rip their mask off and reveal themselves to be Pamy from the Valley Girls, then surely it’s George:

“Frank Zappa’s middle name was Vincent. Which leads to Vincent Eugene Craddock, who was better known as Gene Vincent. So the song is Baby Blue.”

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Gene Vincent – Baby Blue

Here’s Rol, back again, with a suggestion which may, or may not, be worse than his earlier one. You decide:

“That would lead me on to Vincent Furnier, aka Alice Cooper. ‘School’s Out’ is too obvious, so how about ‘Teenage Lament ’74’?”

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Alice Cooper – Teenage Lament ’74

Time for something circular from Rigid Digit from Stuff & Nonsense now:

“Alice Cooper released two albums on Frank Zappa’s Record Label Straight. Ian Dury and The Blockheads sang ‘I Want To Be Straight’, and to complete the circle (back to Frank’s middle name) [and back to George’s suggestion, for that matter] he also recorded ‘Sweet Gene Vincent’.”

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Ian Dury & The Blockheads – Sweet Gene Vincent

Back now for his third suggestion, it’s Rol time again:

“…it just occurred to me that a Zappa is a good way of killing flies… as is Flyswatter by Eels.”

I do not recommend you using the song Flyswatter by Eels to kill flies, it’ll take you ages. You’d be much better off trying an actual flyswatter.

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Eels – Flyswatter

Before we’re completely over-run with Rol’s interjections, here’s a few suggestions by Martin from New Amusements:

“So many roads to take from this one, doubtless many cul-de-sacs…

The ‘valley’ connection: Generation X, Valley of the Dolls’…”

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Generation X – Valley Of The Dolls

“A ‘moon’ connection (since Frank co-wrote Valley Girl with his daughter, Moon Unit) – Moon Unit implies moon base, hence the ‘Space 1999 Theme’…”

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Barry Gray – Space:1999 (Series One Theme Tune)

(You did mean the Series One Theme Tune, right Martin? Pah, of course you did. Nobody would pick the Series Two Theme Tune. The Series One Theme Tune is the best Space:1999 Theme Tune ever, everybody knows that).

“A better ‘moon’ connection – Keith wrote, sang and drummed on the excellent ‘I Need You’ from ‘A Quick One’ by The Who…”

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The Who – I Need You

“…Another ‘valley’ connection: The Monkees, ‘Pleasant Valley Sunday’…But ultimately, I will revert to type. Yes, I want to pitch Pleasant Valley Sunday to you, because it’s utterly brilliant, Gerry Goffin and Carole King at their 60’s song-writing zenith. But, to maintain my indie boy credentials, can I hesitantly suggest The Wedding Present’s 1992 cover of same….?”

Oh, Martin. Never be hesitant round these parts when suggesting The Wedding Present. Besides, when they released a limited edition 7″ single at the start of the month, every month, throughout all of 1992, with an original song as the ‘A’ side and a cover version on the ‘B’ side, I bought the lot, and still have them all. And their version of Pleasant Valley Sunday was on the flip-side of May’s “Come Play With Me”:

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The Wedding Present – Pleasant Valley Sunday

Time to welcome back Julian Badenoch for a second week on the trot, and after I’d spent a few days scratching my head and trying to work out where I knew his name from after he kindly dropped by last week, I was reminded – admittedly by him – that he writes, as he calls it the “unreliable music blog”: Music from Magazines (“unreliable” seems a little overly self-deprecating, Julian. I think “sporadic” is more appropriate):

“This may be wrong for the girls but …Valley sounds like valet which leads to valet parking, and Grace Jones’ instruction to ‘Pull Up To The Bumper’…”

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Grace Jones – Pull Up To The Bumper

Now I’m not the biggest fan of Ms Jones generally – we got off to a bad start when she battered Russell Harty about the head – but that’s an absolute stone cold classic (I’ve not said that for ages, I don’t think…)

Anyway, Julian proceeds: “…which could be paired with ‘Relax’ [I’m skipping that one, as I’m not quite sure I follow what the link is; doubtless I’ll get it the second I press Publish] or even ‘If It Don’t Fit Don’t Force It’…”

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Parliament – If It Don’t Fit (Don’t Force It)

Next! Over to Alyson from What’s It All About Alfie?, permanently scuppered in her efforts to get her suggestions by a combination of a) being in work and b) those fast-fingered blogging boys:

“…as I have absolutely no indie boy credentials whatsoever to maintain, I can go in a totally different direction. One of the first songs I can think of that links to the word Moon, is by Al Jarreau and it’s his theme from the TV Show ‘Moonlighting’. I mention this only because a certain Chain Ganger, who shall not be named, recently revealed a first album purchase which did kind of link to that show!”

I’m not going to mock. I bought a single from the same album. It most definitely wasn’t my first single, so I cannot even afford myself the luxury of that excuse.

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Al Jarreau – Moonlighting

Here’s a little know factoid for you: Al’s surname is actually spelt Jarrow. His parents adopted this as their family name after they took part in the 1936 Jarrow March. However, when he started earning his corn as a soul singer, young Al decided to change the spelling from ‘Jarrow’ to ‘Jarreau’ because he didn’t think being associated with the Tyneside town with the same name made him sound “suave” enough.

100% true, that. Except for the bits that aren’t. Which is all of it, obviously.

“Other than that all my Moon suggestions come from way back, Moon River, Blue Moon, Moonlight Serenade etc. or are by Showaddywaddy (and we won’t go there). Slightly more recently there is ‘Dancing In The Moonlight’ by Toploader (this millennium anyway, just) [DON’T YOU BLOODY DARE SUGGEST THAT!!]. The one I’ll go with as my actual suggestion [Phew! Crisis averted]however is going to be ‘Moonlight Shadow’ by Mike Oldfield (featuring the vocals of Maggie Reilly). As ever I don’t know if its cool or uncool to like Mike Oldfield around these parts but not averse to hearing a bit of ‘In Dulce Jubilo’ at this time of year.”

Also a single I bought when I was a kid, so it’s a thumbs-up from me:

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Mike Oldfield – Moonlight Shadow

Hands up who needs a bit of Badger in their life?

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Thought so. Off you snuffle, Badge:

“Now valleys. They are found in the country as are girls which leads us to ‘Country Girl’ by Primal Scream…”

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Primal Scream – Country Girl

(Is it just me, or is that sleeve strangely reminiscent of The Wannadies’ “Bagsy Me” album, released in 1997, almost 10 years earlier…..?

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I’m not playing anything from it, jus’ sayin’ like.)

Sorry, Badger. Floor’s all yours again.

“Or if we want to go a bit seventies doll is another word for girl which takes us to ‘Valley of the Dolls’ by strangely absent Scottish dance guru Mylo.”

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Mylo – Valley of the Dolls

That’s a fair point, what has happened to Mylo?

“SWC will be along later with his suggestions,” wraps up Badger, in what looks suspiciously like an audition for hosting duties on some interactive music blog, like that’s an idea that would ever take off, “I think he was going down the Frank route. Or something to do with Lithuanians.”

Huh? Lithuanians?

And here is he, right on cue. Badger and SWC both write When You Can’t Remember Anything, so it’s quite nice that their suggestions have come in next to each other, not least because I only have to type their blog name once.

Anyway, SWC, what’s all this about Lithuanians?

“So…in the city of Vilnius in Lithuania there is a statue of Frank Vincent Zappa. There is a reason it is there, but I can’t remember what it is. [You can read it here, if you so wish to do – Helpful Ed] As I’ve stated Vilnius is in Lithuania which gives us a lovely link to ‘Lithuania’ by Jaga Jazzist.”

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Jaga Jazzist – Lithuania

“In addition there is a street in Berlin named Frank Zappa Strasse (its in Marzahn, check it out…) which gives us two options – the brilliant ‘Berlin Got Blurry’ by Parquet Courts …”

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Parquet Courts – Berlin Got Blurry

“…or the godawful ‘Take My Breath Away’ from homoerotic classic ‘Top Gun’. Your choice….”

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Berlin – Take My Breath Away

In case any of you are unsure as to why SWC refers to Top Gun as being homoerotic, then watch this, written and performed by Quentin Tarantino from early 90s indie-flick “Sleep With Me” (which, by the way, is definitely Not Safe for Work, containing, as you would probably expect from anything written and performed by Tarantino, a fair degree of effing and jeffing)

Now, I’ve noticed a scarcity of records vying for the title of “Worst Record of the Week” this week, so, time for me to wheel out my new catchphrase.

If you’re going to suggest that, then I’m going to suggest this:

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Infernal – From Paris To Berlin

Europop at it’s most….erm…most distinguished there.

As an aside, do you remember when in 2006 they re-recorded that for the football World Cup, which was being held in Germany? No? Have a listen to this (not the official video, needless to say – all traces of that seem to have been wiped from all corners of the internet):

England got to the last eight that year, going out on penalties to Portugal. I think they deliberately lost so that we didn’t have to hear that rubbish ever again. Until today.

Here’s Rigid Digit, back to inject some class back into proceedings:

“Frank: Frank Bough presented BBCs Grandstand – all the big sporting events, mainly Football, Rugby League, Horse Racing and Snooker were covered every Saturday Afternoon. ITV offered an alternative with World Of Sport fronted by Dickie Davies which focused on Wrestling, Darts and Stock Car Racing.

Which leads to:”

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Half Man Half Biscuit – Dickie Davies Eyes

There’s another band who must feature in the “Most Suggested” list. Not that I’m complaining. I’ve written before how that contains one of my favourite rhyming couplets ever.

Hold up, old Goalhanger Rol’s back, hovering ready to pounce should another suggestion leave a gaping goal, which as we all know by now, is what I do.

“Frank Bough would lead me either to ‘Make It Right’ by Tim Buckley …”

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Tim Buckley – Make It Right

“…or ‘Spank’ by Jimmy “Bo” Horne. Both, for the same reason.”

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Jimmy “Bo” Horne – Spank

Well, if you’re suggesting that….altogether now……then I’m suggesting this (see, catchy, innit?):

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Spanky Wilson – Sunshine of Your Love

And just in case you don’t know what Rol and I are referring to, it’s to the broadcasting career ending expose of Bough, when it was revealed he enjoyed attending S&M dens, dressed in stockings and suspenders, and indulging in a little light flagellation.

Over to George again now, and you may recall that last week George suggested a tune by Emerson Lake & Palmer, and the next day Greg Lake dropped dead. Let’s see who he has in the cross-hairs this week:

“I can get a link to the Clash, but I’m not going to [regulars will know why – Semi-Helpful Ed]. Frank Zappa was made a special ambassador for Czechoslovakia by then President Vaclav Havel. Vaclav Havel was a founder of Charter 77 (formed in 1977, and isn’t that the title of Clash song…?) so I am of course suggesting a track from Talking Heads’ first album, 77, namely ‘Don’t Worry About The Government'”

So tune in tomorrow for tributes to one of the late founding members of Talking Heads:

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Talking Heads – Don’t Worry About The Government

Here’s The Beard with his usual clutch of contributions:

“Valley Parade is the home of Bradford City FC. The dreadful nineties outfit Terrorvision hailed from Bradford. I stood next to their lead singer at a Supergrass gig at Leeds Town & County Club in 1996. He was wearing, if memory serves me right, awful trainers. I can’t remember what made them so particularly awful but since I always associate Terrorvision with bad footwear. As awful as his trainers were they were nowhere near their single Tequila in the scale of awfulness. Bile inducingly bad. Tequila is of course a type of alcoholic drink. Better songs loosely linked to alcohol, to name just a few, are:”

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Rupert Holmes – Escape (The Pina Colada Song)

(I have genuinely never heard that record as being described as “better” than any other, so fair play for buying in to the ethos of this place, trying to justify those records traditionally considered “guilty pleasures”, which we all know don’t exist. Well, not in the land of music, anyway)

He’s not done yet though:

“‘Velocity Girl’ by Primal Scream (“here she comes again, with vodka in her veins”)”

If I hadn’t posted it yesterday, this would undoubtedly have featured today. We’ll call it an honorary mention this time, and we’ll try to think of a reason to post it some other time. Sorry!

“Or…”

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Nouvelle Vague – Too Drunk To Fuck

Well, if you’re suggesting louche cover versions of alcohol based beverages, then I’m going to suggest this louche cover version of an alcohol based beverage (Wasn’t quite as catchy that time, was it? Mental note to self: new catch-phrase needs some polishing):

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Dexys Midnight Runners – Marguerita Time

No, I didn’t quite believe it existed until I heard it either.

Oh, wait. The Beard’s thought of another one:

“And ‘I Got Loaded’ by Peppermint Harris. I think that’s his name anyway.”

It was indeed, so-called because of his world-renowned minty fresh…erm…”Aris” (look it up):

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Peppermint Harris – I Got Loaded

To round things off this week, I’ll hand you over to babylotti:

“Going to go all Antipodean on you here:  Valley makes me think of ‘In the Valley’ by Midnight Oil…”

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Midnight Oil – In the Valley

“…The Oil’s Rob Hirst filled in for Crowded House live when Hessie was ill, so my favourite from them, ‘Fall at Your Feet’…”

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Crowded House – Fall at Your Feet

I’d forgotten how many songs I know by them.

“…and Nick Seymour from Crowded House [if Midnight Oil are ‘The Oil’, are Crowded House not ‘The House…? – Facetious Ed] is the brother of Mark Seymour from Hunters & Collectors, so I’ll go for the oft covered ‘Throw Your Arms Around Me’ by them…”

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Hunters & Collectors – Throw Your Arms Around Me

Well, if you’re going to suggest that, then I’m going to suggest…no, enough already.

Here’s the next song in The Official Chain, and there’s a few “close, but no cigars” being handed out this week, goes like this:

“…Frank Zappa’s daughter, Moon Unit sang on ‘Valley Girl’. So from Moon Unit to…”

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33.Nick Drake – Pink Moon

So, your suggestions please, via the Comments section below, for records that you can link, and explain the link in your suggestion, to Nick Drake’s “Pink Moon”.

We’ll be back to Wednesday next week again, so you have one day less than usual. Also, as it’ll be Christmas week, any festive suggestions would go down a treat.

See you next week!

More soon.

The Chain #32

Is it Wednesday again already? Where did that week go?

Right, we’ve got the biggest number of suggestions to get through that we’ve ever had this week, and that’s without any from a couple of regular Chain Gangers, so there’s no time for pleasantries this week, bar a courteous “Hello!” (Also, I’m feeling a little under the weather today, so please excuse me if there are less attempts at jokes than usual this week…)

Still, the show must go on, and all that.

We signed off last week with “The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead” by XTC, inviting your usual wide-ranging nominations for tunes that link to it, and I can’t think of a batter way to kick things off this week than with one of The Beard’s suggestions:

“The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead was released in 1992. Also released in 1992 was the album Connected by Stereo MCs. That year they supported Happy Mondays on their Yes Please! tour. Yes Please! is a genuinely appalling album and one that appeared to mark the end of Shaun Ryder as a lyricist and a poet comparable to Yeats (in the mind of Anthony H. Wilson, anyway). That was until he came back with Black Grape and the single Reverend Black Grape a few years later.”

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Black Grape – Reverend Black Grape

Over to the Great Gog now:

“My first thought was that the XTC sleeve looked familiar, but I know that I didn’t buy ‘Peter Pumpkinhead’ as a single, only acquiring later on a compilation. A quick look through the vinyl singles revealed another XTC sleeve in that style for The Disappointed, which I presume was on the same album [it was, on “Nonsuch”]. This immediately brought to mind a couple of other singles I possess called Disappointed – one by Public Image Limited…”

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Public Image Ltd. – Disappointed

“…and the other by Electronic.”

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Electronic – Disappointed (Single Mix)

There’s also this, not a single, granted, but a B-Side of the 12″ of his second solo single, back when he was still good, and this containing one of my favourite self-deprecating couplets:

“This is the last song I will ever sing (Crowd noise: ‘Hooray!!’)

No, I’ve changed my mind again (Crowd Noise: “Awww…’)”

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Morrissey – Disappointed

Which leads us rather nicely on to the first suggestion from Badger of When You Can’t Remember Anything:

“Spud in ‘Bob the Builder’ famously is a scarecrow who has a pumpkin for a head. This brings us nicely to the Bob the Builder theme tune.”

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Bob the Builder – Can We Fix It?

Now, when I say the Morrissey song leads us nicely to Bob the Builder, it’s because Bob is of course voiced by actor Neil Morrissey, and not because anyone other than the aforementioned Spud has a head shaped like a pumpkin.

But whilst we’re still in Morrissey territory, here’s The Robster from Is This The Life?:

“Frank Sidebottom didn’t have a pumpkinhead, but it was the size of a pumpkin. His cover of Panic is always worth a spin, but as it’s that time of year, you may want to consider something from the Christmas Is Really Fantastic EP which came out 30 whole years ago! Blimey…”

Panic fits where we are at the moment, I think:

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The Sidebottoms – Panic

By the way, apologies for the absolute bobbins way that mp3 ends; I didn’t notice until earlier today that it cuts out mid-conversation between Frank and Little Frank, and, erm, frankly I haven’t had time to re-edit it.

Anyway, we seem to be in the middle of some pumpkin related shenanigans, so here to add to the mix is a couple of suggestions from SWC, also of When You Can’t Remember Anything:

“If you need a Pumpkin reference [as it happens, I thought we would, but we’ve done alright, ta!], then we could go towards ‘Pumpkin’ by Tricky…”

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 Tricky – Pumpkin

“…or perhaps,” SWC continues, “down the Smashing Pumpkins route and have some ‘Today’….”

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The Smashing Pumpkins – Today

And here’s another. Remember Kate Nash? You know, her with that really annoying voice that sounded like she was affecting an Essex accent, had a massive hit with “Foundations” a few years back? Yeh, you do. Well, anyway, here’s one of her follow-up singles:

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Kate Nash – Pumpkin Soup

I have no idea why that song is so named. I can’t help but suspect it’s one of those “Yesterday/Scrambled Eggs” scenarios, except she didn’t bother changing it.

Time for a big Chain Gang welcome to a new (I think…) contributor, and here with a couple of belters is Julian, the first of which is a double-linker, since it mentions not only pumpkins but also ballads:

“Murder Ballads by Nick Cave & The Bad Seedshas the song The Curse Of Millhaven, a line in which refers to two dog killers as ‘Stinky Bohoon and his friend with the pumpkin sized head’…”

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Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – The Curse Of Millhaven

I’m surprised there hasn’t been more suggestions for songs from this album linking to the Ballad theme, to be honest, but now we’re here, you may as well have another bash Julian:

“Also on the album was a great take on ‘Stagger Lee’ which leads one to The Clash with ‘Wrong ‘Em Boyo’, yet an other take on ‘Stack ‘o’ Lee’.”

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The Clash – Wrong ‘Em Boyo

Sorry, George, I had no idea he was going to do that, honest….

Anyway, since we seemed to have strayed into Ballad territory, we may as well have some more. Welcome, then, Charity Chic from Charity Chic Music:

“I shall redeem myself with my second thought – ‘The Ballad of El Goodo’ by Big Star.”

Yes, I know I haven’t posted his first suggestion yet, do I need to post the whole Dr Who, Timey-Wimey clip again? I’ll get to it. Besides, this now adds a whole element as to whether or not CC’s second suggestion really is going to be better than his first, don’t ya think?

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Big Star – The Ballad of el Goodo

Over to Rol of My Top Ten fame next:

“I remembered My Top Ten Ballads Of… which I did ages ago (I can’t be bothered looking for a link, I’m not after a cheap plug this week!) Ahead of the aforementioned Peter Pumpkinhead [and another one which will be along in a minute or two] was ‘The Ballad of Barry Allen’ by Jim’s Big Ego, which is about the fleet-footed superhero The Flash and, curiously enough, written and performed by Jim Infantino, the nephew of comic book artist Carmine Infantino who used to draw said superhero quite a lot back in the comics I read when I was a younger, more affluent person.”

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Jim’s Big Ego – The Ballad of Barry Allen

Over to Alyson from What’s It All About, Alfie?:

“I tend to submit only one suggestion per week as realise you must be pretty overloaded nowadays [yeh, a little, but I’ll survive!] …but three that came to mind immediately – if any of them seem worthy of including, or have a gag in them, take your pick.”

This, then was the third: “…Marianne Faithful, who tends to be remembered less for her music as for “other things” but there you go”:

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Marianne Faithfull – The Ballad Of Lucy Jordan

Gags? I have no idea what you mean. Nor do I have any idea what those “other things are” that you refer to.

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Oh, I see.

Moving swiftly on, here’s Martin from New Amusements, back for his second week of Chain Gangery:

“My first reaction was to pick up on the ballad, and go with ‘The Ballad of Tom Jones’, by Space and Cerys Matthews. However, much as I sometimes love Cerys, I felt determined to come up with a better song than this….”

You will, Martin, you will. But in the meantime:

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Space with Cerys Matthews – The Ballad Of Tom Jones

Back over to Rol, who’s still banging on about the Ballad Top 10 he did over at his place, but which he definitely isn’t after a cheap plug for, nosireebob. (It’s right here if you want to have a look. Needless to say, there’s some belters)

“At #2 was Martin’s Tom Jones.

But #1…

#1 was something really rather special.

‘The Ballad of the Kingsmen’ by Todd Snider. It’s Louie Louie-tastic.”

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Todd Snider – The Ballad of the Kingsmen

Remember earlier I edited Rol’s suggestion so as not to spoil a forthcoming “Ballad” link? Well, here’s the song in question, as suggested by babylotti:

“‘The Ballad of’ leads me immediately to The Bloodhound Gang’s ‘The Ballad of Chasey Lain’.”

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 The Bloodhound Gang – The Ballad Of Chasey Lain

babylotti continues: “The video (apart from having several ladies in a state of undress) is one of those ones which stops the song halfway through, which leads me onto my next suggestion, the magnificent Bizarre Love Triangle by New Order (You’re a real ‘up’ person..) surely the best song they ever wrote?”

I’m not arguing.

babylotti is right, The Bloodhound Gang video does stop halfway through (as their bass player wanders off stage, his eye caught by one of these ladies). I have watched it, so that you don’t have to, just to check the link is valid. You know, purely for research purposes. Seven times.

In case you’re not sure what babylotti is talking about re:Bizarre Love Triangle, this from wiki:

“The music video, which was released in November 1986, was directed by American artist Robert Longo. It prominently featured shots of a man and a woman in business suits flying through the air as though propelled by trampolines; this is based directly on Longo’s “Men in the Cities” series of lithographs. The video also features a black and white cut-scene where Jodi Long and E. Max Frye are arguing about reincarnation, in which Long emphatically declares “I don’t believe in reincarnation because I refuse to come back as a bug or as a rabbit!” Frye responds, “You know, you’re a real ‘up’ person,” before the song resumes.”

Probably easier if I just post the video, really:

Oh, and the song too:

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New Order – Bizarre Love Triangle

Some of you, and I won’t be asking for a show of hands, will perhaps not be familiar with Chasey Lain, so I’ll let babylotti wrap things up, as he seems to know who she is:

My last suggestion, as Chasey Lain is a porn star, I would like to suggest another porn star who went on to make a record (no, not Paris Hilton, though surely that would have made worst single of the week….), ‘Fallen Angel’ by Traci Lords”

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Traci Lords – Fallen Angel

Now, I know what song I would go to next, and thankfully, Rol knows it too:

“The link to Traci Lords…made me think of ‘Little Baby Nothing’ by the Manics which features Traci on guest vocals and also deals with the exploitation of women by the porn industry.”

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Manic Street Preachers – Little Baby Nothing

Now, a few moments ago, babylotti made reference to the Worst Record of the Week, and surprisingly, in a week where we’ve already mentioned Bob the Builder, there were very few of these this week. Few, but not none.

Step forwards SWC:

“The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead takes us to A recent poll in a magazine in which ‘More Than Words’ by impossibly awful hair bear band Xtreme was voted as the ‘worst ballad of all time’. This was a song that was my sisters first dance at her wedding and a song on a cassette that I once reversed my car over around 19 times.”

A small admin point here: I’m taking the link to be bands whose names start with an X? In which case, sorry to break the news, but they were called Extreme, not Xtreme. But, under the weather as I may be, Spurs have just managed to finally win a game in the Champions League (better late than never, eh?), so I’m feeling magnanimous and I’ll let it slide this time:

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Extreme – More Than Words

Actually, there’s another reason I’m posting that; remember that annoying ex-flatmate I mentioned last week? Genuinely, that was one of his favourite records.

Okay, time for a shift, or a time shift, maybe. Here’s Alex G from We Will Have Salad (I’m going to keep linking to your blog until you start writing stuff again by the way):

“From Wiltshire’s second most popular rock group to its first: “Stonehenge” by Spinal Tap, please.”

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Spinal Tap – Stonehenge

Of course, it’d be sacrilege for me to post that and not also post this:

 

And whilst we’re on out-dated sounding bands from the 70s, here’s a suggestion from George:

“Right. Worst record of the week. Here goes. Also from Swindon was Diana Dors, who was married to Alan Lake, leading to Emerson Lake and Palmer and a record I bought for a pound (and was described to me in the record shop as a terrible record, and they were right) Pictures At An Exhibition, and side 1 track 2 The Gnome. Complete and utter tripe.”

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Emerson Lake & Palmer – The Gnome

He’s got a point, hasn’t he, readers?

Okay, where next? We haven’t had any Peter links yet, have we? Let’s sort that out.

Selection number two from Alyson:

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The Art of Noise feat. Duane Eddy – Peter Gunn

Back to George next:

“I suggest The Shock Headed Peters and ‘I, Blood Brother Be’. Swiss Adam is a fan of that song too, he posted it once. The six and a half minute version please.”

No. Have the six minutes forty two second version instead:

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Shock Headed Peters – I, Bloodbrother Be (£4,000 Love Letter)

Over to Kuttowski from A Few Good Times in My Life. As you will see shortly – and this is my introducing yet another element of suspense – I have had to disqualify his first suggestion. Until the moment of that big reveal, though:

“Far back in time, when punk ruled my life for a bit I was addicted to Peter and the Test Tube Babies. Fast, mean and straight was the main things they gave me at these times. So I would like to suggest their ‘Banned From The Pubs’.”

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Peter and The Test Tube Babies – Banned From the Pubs

I’m not surprised they were banned from pubs. Test Tube Babies are way under age, even if they are accompanied by a consenting adult.

Time to head over to Muso Corner and see what some of our regulars have rustled up for us this week.

Here’s Martin again: “Andy Partridge of XTC was originally going to produce Blur’s ‘Modern Life Is Rubbish’ but, at the label’s insistence, was subbed, and Stephen Street was drafted in like an indie supply teacher. Cue career-redefining album and the salvation of the band. All of which is my excuse for pitching Colin Zeal by Blur, from ‘Modern Life’ …”

Well pitched sir. You’ll be on the creative team on The Apprentice in no time!

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Blur – Colin Zeal

And joining Martin in Muso Corner this week, it’s The Swede from Unthought of, though, somehow:

“‘Peter Pumpkinhead’ was produced by the late Gus Dudgeon, most famous for twiddling the knobs on many of Sir Reginald of Pinner’s greatest hits, though also among his credits are two albums by The Bonzo Dog Band (post Doo-Dah). From the second of these, ‘Tadpoles’, I’d like to suggest ‘Canyons of Your Mind’.”

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Bonzo Dog Band – Canyons of Your Mind

“(There’s a rather splendid TV performance of the song on YouTube if you’re looking for a video to post this week.)” The Swede rather helpfully suggests. Well, I wasn’t, but since I think the clip you’re referring to is actually where I know the song from, it would be churlish of me not to:

Back now to SWC, with “a proper suggestion”. And when he says, “a proper suggestion” he means “a proper suggestion”:

“If I remember this song correctly it had a dodgy reference in it to crucifixion – something about being nailed to a chunk of wood…?”

You do remember correctly; in fact it goes:

“Peter Pumpkinhead was too good
Had him nailed to a chunk of wood
He died grinning on live TV
Hanging there he looked a lot like you
And an awful lot like me!”

“So the obvious link to that is ‘Reverence’ by the Jesus and Mary Chain.”

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The Jesus & Mary Chain – Reverence

“I’m only hoping,” winds up SWC, “that the real link is nothing to do with Crash Test Dummies.”

I’m not sure I understand that reference. Still, with a bit of luck, someone will explain it to me soon enough.

Here’s Alex G again:

“‘The Ballad Of Peter Pumpkinhead’ was later a minor hit for Crash Test Dummies via the soundtrack of ‘Dumb and Dumber’ [Oh, I see! Thanks!]. So going with the link of “original recordings of songs subjected to ‘quirky’ cover versions on the Dumb and Dumber soundtrack”, I would like to suggest “Get Ready” by The Temptations.”

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The Temptations – Get Ready

Penned by Smokey Robinson when he was still called William, and covered by The Proclaimers of all people on the above named soundtrack, I think that may be my favourite record of the week. It’s certainly my “Best Dressed for a Single Sleeve” winner of the week.

Time for more Dumb and Dumber relayed madness from Rigid Digit of Stuff & Nonsense:

“As mentioned above, covered by Crash Test Dummies for the ‘Dumb and Dumber’ soundtrack, Crash Test Dummies are best known for going “Mmm!” a lot. That single was a huge seller (and after a while hugely annoying). The parent album (God Shuffled His Feet) is worth a listen, as is the follow-up single ‘Afternoons and Coffeespoons'”

Maybe time has dulled it’s ability to irritate, but I listened to “Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm” after you mentioned it, first time I’d heard it in years, and it wasn’t as bad as I recalled. It’s his voice that’s really annoying, I think. Still, I don’t know anything else by them, so let’s have a listen and see if he’s always like that:

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Crash Test Dummies – Afternoons & Coffeespoons

Nope still annoying.

Ok, time for some links to the band’s names, and here’s Alyson back for her third, which is actually her first, choice:

“The band ABC (another 3-letter one) with one of their early ’80s ‘Lexicon of Love’ tracks such as ‘Poison Arrow'”

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ABC – Poison Arrow

But there’s an elephant in the room here. And what do you need when there’s an elephant in the room? A Badger to expose it, that’s what:

“XTC is a quick way of spelling ecstasy which when shortened is just E which leads us to Ebenezer Goode by The Shamen.”

Anybody got any Vera’s? Lavely.

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The Shamen – Ebeneezer Goode

I’ve been a bit quiet on the suggestion front this week, so here’s a couple from me in a similar vein. Firstly, a song which is even less subtle than Ebenezer Goode as to the topic in question:

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E-Zee Possee – Everything Starts With an E

That was co-written by Boy George under the name Angela Dust (see what he did there?), and released on his More Protein label – who knew he was into drugs? Oh yeh, sorry, everybody.

And whilst we’re being all unsubtle, here’s The Beard:

“XTC, as already stated, sounds like ecstasy so…

E, Ecstasy
M, Motherfucker, motherfucker
F, From us to you

EMF (Live At The Bilson) by, erm, EMF.”

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EMF – E.M.F. (Live At The Bilson)

That was the B-side to their smash “Unbelievable” single, and I remember there being quite the furore in some of the red-tops when they flipped the record over and found out what EMF stands for. Other interesting facts: one of the band (Derry…?) used to have a party trick where he inserted a whole orange under his foreskin. That’s not the sort of party I ever want to be invited to, thank you very much.

Still, more fine E related skull-doggery is afoot, with this suggestion from Swiss Adam from Bagging Area, which wins my “Oh, Is That What That Tune’s Called!!” Award of the Week:

“XTC, as several people have pointed out, is also a name of a popular rave drug. It is chanted throughout Joey Beltram’s monstrously good Energy Flash.”

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Joey Beltram – Energy Flash

Next, and finally in this drug-fuelled frenzy, a bloody great record, given a bloody great remix, by the bloody great Basement Jaxx:

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Missy “Misdemeanour” Elliott – 4 My People (Basement Jaxx Remix)

Now, earlier on, I mentioned that I had to disqualify a suggestion by Kuttowski, this one to be precise:

“XTC were an art-rock band from Swindon and were much more as the average in these days. So it would great to listen to their Making Plans For Nigel once again.”

I don’t disagree, but here at The Chain we need a link to be more than just “X band also did X song”, the suggestion needs to be more than that.

But, I’ll tell you what, how about I give you a tune which has the music from “Making Plans” but something else over the top if it? I’m talking, of course, about one of them there “mash-ups”; as a whole I’m not a great fan of the genre – yes, they’re often very clever but equally often the producer over eggs it, assumes the listener needs it explaining, and includes the vocal from the backing track when it really isn’t required, spoiling it.

This is one of the better ones, mixing Tweet featuring Missy Elliott’s “Oops (Oh My)” with the aforementioned XTC tune. Give it a listen:

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Go Home Productions – Making Plans For Vinyl

And since we’re, sort of, on Nigel, here’s Julian back for another go:

“Nigel was going to work for British Steel, which of course leads one to Sheffield steel with which the knife in ‘This Is England’ by The Clash was made of.”

Phew! For a moment there, I thought you were going to suggest Judas Priest…

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The Clash – This Is England

You thought we’d finished with the pumpkin related tunes a while ago, didn’t you? Well, as it happens, we haven’t, I was saving a couple back.

Here’s George again:

“A pumpkin is a member of the squash family, and in the 1970s there was a squash player called Jonah Barrington (who stormed out of Superstars for some reason ,but I might be wrong there), and Barrington Levy is a reggae artist, so I suggest his diddly-diddly-wah-hoo song ‘Here I Come’.”

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Barrington Levy – Here I Come

Now that link got me thinking. Are pumpkins members of the squash family? A bit of research reveals this:

“Pumpkins, squash and gourds are members of the enormously diverse Cucurbitaceae family, which contains more than 100 genera and over 700 species.”

So, George, you’re close enough, suggestion allowed.

But wait…pumpkins, squash and gourds you say? Brace yourselves, I feel a couple of puns coming on, which are actually just an excuse for me to post two of the greatest records ever written:

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The Beach Boys – Gourd Only Knows

Somebody really should have checked the spelling on that sleeve before they released it.

And just in case you don’t get it:

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Teenage Fanclub – Gourd Knows It’s True (Peel Session)

Time to tie up one more loose end now, and it’s back to Charity Chic, who you will recall is due to post a record worse than Big Star’s “The Ballad of El Goodo”, which really shouldn’t prove too difficult:

“XTC to Andy Partridge to the Partridge Family to David Cassidy and Daydreamer.”

Nailed it.

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David Cassidy – Daydreamer

Since we’re on Partridges – and I know you’re expecting me to post a video clip to a bit of Alan Partridge, but I’m not going to -here’s something seasonal from The Great Gog:

“Now it’s December, there is a well-known song that features the word partridge rather a lot. My favourite version of this tune actually DOESN’T contain the word partridge, and despite many listens over the years, I do still find it mildly amusing – The Twelve Days Of Christmas by Bill Barclay.”

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Bill Barclay – 12 Days of Christmas

If you like that, you’ll like this too:

Ok then, to round things up, here’s a wee message from Andy Partridge himself, which I picked up on one of those “Late Night Tales” compilations a few years ago, this one compiled by Helmut, and it seems rather apt:

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Andy Partridge – History Of Rock And Roll

And that’s it for our suggestions this week. Here’s the next link in The Official Chain:

“Frank Zappa’s record label was called Barking Pumpkin, so…”

cover_564742611201032. Frank Zappa – Valley Girl

So, your suggestions please, via the Comments section below, for records that you can link, and explain the link in your suggestion, to Frank Zappa’s “Valley Girl”.

See you next week!

(I am contractually obliged to also write: More soon.)

The Chain #29

As the late great Sir David Frost would have said had he been hosting it, rather than faffing about interviewing Richard Nixon, or popping through the keyhole with a bloke who makes pasta sauce: Hello, Good Evening, and Welcome to the latest instalment in the series of posts known as The Chain.

We ended last week with “Up on Cripple Creek” by The Band, and I set you all three challenges:

  1. Come up with your usual high standard of suggestions for songs which link to that record;
  2. See if any of you could come up with a song worse than the one I had thought of, or failing that, the actual one I was thinking of;
  3. I didn’t actually write this, but I think we were all hoping for some suggestions to lift the post-election blues.

And, as I hoped, you did not disappoint.

As usual, you can break down this week’s suggestions into various categories, so here we go with the first of those groups, which picked up on the fact that many of The Band hailed from the country who experienced some technical difficulties last week when the website which facilitates people applying to emigrate to their fine land crashed due to the amount of traffic it received after Trump won the election: Canada.

First out of the traps was George, determined to dazzle us with his knowledge of terrible records:

“Worst Record In The Chain challenge accepted! [see..?] The Band were mostly from Canada. And also from Canada were a group called Sway, who covered Ottawan’s ‘Hands Up (Give Me Your Heart)’, and if you thought that the original was bad, just listen to that cover.”

As it goes, I don’t think the original is that bad. Of it’s time, yes. As for the cover George has nominated though, well…he has a point. Also of it’s time, that time being when it was acceptable to churn out cheesy versions of old tunes, i.e. the late 80s. I’m looking at you, Stock Aitken and Waterman. And you can piss off as well, Cowell:

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Sway – Hands Up (Give Me Your Heart)

As an aside, you’d think that if you were going down the Canadian route, then simply suggesting something by Ottawan would be sufficient, what with Ottawa being the capital of Canada and everything. But no: it turns out Ottawan were not actually Ottawan at all; they were founded by French record producers Daniel Vangarde and Jean Kluger and fronted by Caribbean-born Jean Patrick Baptiste and Annette, who apparently is so famous as not to require a surname. Such things are for mere mortals like you and I.

Much as he might be keen to win the coveted crown of “Worst Record of the Week” (you haven’t, by the way George. Not even close), George is also keen to make a more credible suggestion, also tip-toeing his way along the Canadian route:

“And from that absolute piece of nonsense to something simply awesome, as The Swede will undoubtedly agree. Sticking with the Canada link, there’s a Canadian ballad dating from ca. 1839 called ‘Canadee-i-o’ which is on the Nic Jones’ album Penguin Eggs.”

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Nic Jones – Canadee-i-o

Adding to the list of Canadian based suggestions comes Rol with a not entirely unpredictable choice (I mean that in a nice way, of course):

“Leonard Cohen was also Canadian. Take your pick… most of his songs are scarily prescient right now.

Death Of A Ladies’ Man will do if you don’t want to choose yourself.”

I’d be here all day trying to decide if I did.

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Leonard Cohen – Death Of Ladies’ Man

Just in case you’re worried we’re about to move into (or remain in, depending on your thoughts on Mr Cohen) gloomy territory, we’ll move on to the next group now, which is songs which relate to the Creek in the Cripple Creek, and to get things moving on that front, here’s babylotti:

“The word ‘Creek’ inspires two songs from me, both ones I originally heard/taped off John Peel. The Fall, with Cruisers Creek probably my first or second memorable encounter with the band…”

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The Fall – Cruisers Creek

“… and another Peel favourite, Half Man Half Biscuit’s ‘I Love You Because (You Look Like Jim Reeves)’ with it’s classic opening verse:

‘Me girlfriend looks like Peggy Mount, what am I supposed to do?

I’m up the creek and never mind the paddle boy, I haven’t even got a canoe”.

Genius.

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Half Man Half Biscuit – I Love You Because (You Look Like Jim Reeves)

Pure class.

Oh, and just in case you’re interested, this is Peggy Mount:

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Which in no way should be considered a neat segue to Charity Chic and his first suggestion of the week:

“Husband and wife Marc Olsen and Victoria Williams appeared together as part of The Original Harmony Ridge Creekdippers. Prior to this and whilst still a Jayhawk, Olsen penned a song ‘Miss Williams’ Guitar’ for his beau.”

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The Jayhawks – Miss Williams’ Guitar

Over to Badger now, who, unselfish chap that he is, nominates a band that his buddy SWC loves (as does he, it has to be said, and, after they posted them over at their When You Can’t Remember Anything blog a month or so ago and I went out and snaffled me their back catalogue, so do I):

“Saddle Creek is the next town up the Nebraska river after Cripple Creek and Saddle Creek Records house the totally wonderful Hop Along whose ‘Painted Shut’ was the second best album released last year. So to celebrate that let’s have ‘Waitress’ by them.”

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Hop Along – Waitress

Here’s Rol again:

“Can I suggest Shit Creek by The Icicle Works…? Seems very appropriate this week.”

Doesn’t it just?

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The Icicle Works – Shit Creek

“And…Up On Cripple Creek is about a girl called Bessie, so I also suggest ‘You Stand Here’ by Dressy Bessy (which does sound very much like Inbetweener by Sleeper to me… linking back a few weeks on The Chain… which might get messy: what happens if we cross links?)”

You need to ask? It’s like when streams cross, Rol:

Dunno about you, but I’m definitely imagining that’s Trump Tower and that two certain non-politicians are stuck in a gold lift.

Anyway, you suggested a tune, didn’t you?

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Dressy Bessy – You Stand Here

PS – that reminds me more of Belly than anyone else. I think. Can’t quite put my finger on it, to be honest. Maybe The Breeders circa “Pod”. Either way, it gets a thumbs up from me.

Time for a big Chain Gang welcome now to first time contributor Lynchie, who writes:

“Am I being too stupid to suggest Buffy Sainte Marie playing mouthbow and singing “Cripple Creek” LIVE?”

Lynchie, no suggestion is too stupid for these pages, and yours is far from stupid. Plus, you were kind enough to post a link to the clip you were referring to in the Comments (I’ll not post it again here, but if you want it you can find it back on The Chain #28).

Instead, here’s the version you mention in glorious sound-only format:

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Buffy Sainte-Marie – Cripple Creek (Live)

Suggestions weren’t just restricted to Creek related, mind; a few nominated songs with a more watery flavour. Take Kay, for example:

“I have two which both link creek with river/water etc. A bit literal, but there you go….First of all the wonderful PJ Harvey – ‘Down by the Water'”

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PJ Harvey – Down by the Water

“…and secondly Kylie Minogue and Nick Cave – ‘Where the Wild Roses Grow’. A really dark record for a really dark day.”

No prizes for guessing on which day Kay suggested those, eh readers?

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Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds (ft. Kylie Minogue) – Where The Wild Roses Grow

About time I joined in the water sports, I think (Stop it…). Who fancies some a capella fun?

Lifted from the soundtrack of the truly wonderful Coen Brothers movie “O Brother Where Art Thou?”, here’s Alison Krauss:

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Alison Krauss – Down To The River To Pray

Ok, on then to the third group: The Band and it’s members.

But first, I love a good Factoid, and Alyson supplies a belter this week, even if she can’t quite remember the nuts and bolts of it:

“Discovered recently when I posted a video clip of One Of Us by ABBA that Agnetha got custody of the “Music from Big Pink” album by The Band, when she and Bjorn (or was it Benny) went their separate ways. Won’t take credit for spotting this – it was another chain ganger whom I won’t embarrass by naming – but that will be my suggestion for this week!”

So here for Alyson and The Swede (ooops!), is a bit of ABBA:

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ABBA – One of Us

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with liking a bit of ABBA. One of the many purchases I made from Britannia music back in the 1980s was their Greatest Hits Volume 2, which I still own, long after much of my own vinyl has been sold, stolen or donated to charity shops. In fact, “One of Us” is taken from their final studio album “The Visitors”, a vinyl copy of which I have very happy memories of, not so much for the record itself, but for it’s sleeve. I’ll cryptically say no more than that for now, but at least one person reading this will know what I’m referring to, and they’ll have just spat their coffee all over the place in surprise. I’ll explain some other time.

In the meantime, here’s The Swede. Look innocent everybody, like we don’t know his little secret.

Oh hi, Swede. Us? Talking about you? Noooo, course not.

We’re on to links to The Band, and band members of The Band. Any suggestions?

“Robbie Robertson of The Band mentored Jesse Winchester’s early career, even producing his first LP in 1970. I’ll choose a much later track by Jesse though, ‘Sham-A-Ling-Dong-Ding’ from 2009’s ‘Love Filling Station’. “

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Jesse Winchester – Sham-A-Ling-Dong-Ding

I’ve never heard that before. It is properly gorgeous. The Swede: thank you for bringing that into my life.

“There’s a YouTube clip of Jesse performing the song on Elvis Costello’s American TV show that I’d defy anyone to get through without serious lip-quivering” The Swede adds. He’s not wrong:

That voice has no right to be coming out of that face. Just incredible.

Until I heard that, had you mentioned the word “Winchester” to me my reference point would have been this:

I think this might actually be a decent plan to escape the world right now, as it goes.

Back at the start of October, I wrote a post about how “Labour of Love” by Hue and Cry always took me back to a certain bar that we used to frequent in Peterborough when I was at Sixth Form, the name of which I couldn’t recall. My old mate Richie got in touch with a list of bars it could’ve been, and he nailed it first time: Miss Pears. A terrible name for a bar, I’m sure you’ll agree. I’m sure you’ll all sleep well tonight knowing that.

I mention this because the next song also reminds me of the same place; they had a TV which seemed to have the video for this eternally playing on a loop.

The Robster provides three suggestions “that don’t need much explaining”, and this was one of them, a double linker since there’s a water link in it too:

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Robbie Robertson – Somewhere Down The Crazy River

I always thought Robbie Robertson was one of those made-up joke names, like Boaty McBoatface. Seems I was wrong.

The Robbie Roberston suggestions don’t stop there. Here’s The Beard:

“The Band’s Robbie Robertson has worked with Martin Scorsese on the soundtracks to several of his films. One such collaboration was Casino. Las Vegas, in particular The Strip, is renowned for it’s casinos. Slightly off The Strip is a shiny gold hotel emblazoned with the name of an arsehole. Despite said arsehole’s bigoted views and alleged improprieties he is on the cusp of taking over as the King of the Jungle. With hopes of a Sam Allardyce style rapid fall from grace in mind, it has to be Impeach The President by The Honey Drippers.”

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The Honey Drippers – Impeach The President

“Or if that’s too grim a link for something as joyous as The Chain, Love Is The Drug by Roxy Music….”

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Roxy Music – Love Is The Drug

“…or Devo’s cover of ‘(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction’, both of which are on the soundtrack to the aforementioned Casino”

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Devo – (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction

There was more than one person in The Band, by the way, as Charity Chic explains:

“Garth Hudson played with his organ in The Band [I said stop it….!] You can cross a creek via a ford. Therefore Hudson Ford with Burn Baby Burn please”

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Hudson Ford – Burn Baby Burn

The verse to that has a touch of “Yellow River” about it, doesn’t it? Wait a minute…river…creek…oh go on then. And as this week sees the 25th anniversary of their break-through album “Out of Time”, here’s R.E.M. doing a cover of the old Christie hit:

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R.E.M. – Yellow River

But undisputed king of suggestions to link to The Band this week is undoubtedly Rigid Digit:

“Lets do this literally: The Band can be alternatively spelt as The Banned, hence the 1970s punk cash-in “Little Girl” must be next up…”

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 The Banned – Little Girl

“…or: The Band => Banned => Banned Records. Or in this case, a record that was banned by it’s creator when he discovered what the title actually meant. Is Cliff Richard and “Honky Tonk Angel” waiting in the wings?”

Well, it is now:

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Cliff Richard – Honky Tonk Angel

Which must be the worst record of the week, right?

Wrong. For our Rigid friend has another suggestion:

“…or:  The Banned was the name of the made-up band on Eastenders. One of the group left and scored a massive hit with a piano-tinkly ballad. Could it be Nick Berry with ‘Every Loser Wins’..?”

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Nick Berry – Every Loser Wins

Ok so THAT has to be the worst record of the week, surely?

Nope. But Rigid, you are about to find out how close you came to guessing the song that I was thinking off. In fact, with SWC you jointly nudge even closer to it. I’ll let SWC explain:

“The Banned were the name of the pub band in Eastenders which featured Sharon and Kelvin on vocals. The British public took them to their hearts and sent their one and only single in to the higher parts of the top 20. Sadly I forget what it was called. But it is a contender for the worst record of the week.”

“Something Outta Nothing” blurts out Rigid, with scant regard for his public perception.

Oooh, you’re both so unbelievably close…!

The record I was thinking of, and undisputed Worst Record of the Week was “Something Outta Nothing” but when it got released as a single they didn’t release it under the moniker ‘The Banned’, they released it as…well, sounding like a song that Samantha Fox rejected for being “too shit”, they released it as this:

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Letitia Dean & Paul Medford – Something Outta Nothing

No, I don’t have any shame, since you ask.

Need some help stopping your ears bleeding? Here’s The Robster with another of his brief, self-explanatory songs, one of my favourite records of all time, by one of the most under-rated indie bands of all time:

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Felt – Ballad Of The Band

A little more The Band-related shenanigans now from The Great Gog:

“The Band also recorded as song called The Weight, so I immediately thought of a song title which is itself a weight – ‘4st 7lb’ from Manic Street Preachers.”

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Manic Street Preachers – 4st 7lb

“I did also think of ’78 Stone Wobble’ by Gomez” The Great Gog continues, “which could technically be referencing a weight, but may well be concerning itself with something else altogether”

You’ve got me scratching my head there. Am I missing something? What else could it refer to…?

No matter, it’s bloody great so it’s bloody in:

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Gomez – 78 Stone Wobble

Before we move on to the final grouping, which is songs which link to the word “Cripple” – a category I’m sure we’re all approaching with nothing short of nervous trepidation – here’s Walter:

“The B-side of the record is ‘The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down’. It became an anthem of America’s southern pride. That leads me to another song showing southern pride. So let me suggest Lynyrd Skynyrd with Sweet Home Alabama.”

This has actually featured before on The Chain – don’t let those streams cross!! – way back on the Chain #4. I’m allowing it’s inclusion this week because it wasn’t suggested by one of the Chain Gangers (at that point, there was only me, George and Charity Chic), it was the next link in The (Official) Chain, and because in those days I would ask for suggestions as to what the link was, as well as suggesting alternative links. So, as a testament to how this little corner of ours has grown and changed (for the better, I think), here you go:

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Lynyrd Skynyrd – Sweet Home Alabama

No, no, I’m not crying, just got something in my eye, s’all….

We’ll ignore the fact that, unsurprisingly, Trump won 62% of the vote in Barmy ‘Bama.

Last week, I made a joke. I don’t know if you spotted it. I said that regular contributor Dirk “…has a different way of dealing the idea of linking records together. Whilst the rest of us ponder the staple tune and think of songs to link to it, Dirk seems to decide on what record he wants to hear then just make up any old stuff to get to it.”

Now Dirk took that in the spirit it was intended, although when I first read his suggestion this week, I wasn’t so sure:

“…if that…were even HALFWAY true, I’d by now have invented an interesting tale which leads to Intense Degree’s “He Was The Ukulele Player For Dr. Eugene’s Travelling Folk Show Band” just because it has “band” in the title …. and because I’d like to hear it again!”

Having just popped over to Dirk’s place I see that he has kindly posted the whole of the Colorblind James Experience’s second album, which I’ve never heard, and which I shall be returning to pillage and leave a nice comment shortly, so I figured I owed him a favour:

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Intense Degree – He Was The Ukulele Player For Doctor Eugene’s Travelling Folk Show Band

Not really my cup of tea that. In fact, the kindest way I can describe it is “mercifully short”. Still, each to their own and all that. S’not all about me, now is it?

Anyway, Dirk does continue to make an actual suggestion:

“…instead I took the complicated route and found something linked to “Cripple” (not many of you will do THAT, I’d have thought): The Crippled Pilgrims and ‘Black And White’: a mighty tune off their 1984 debut MiniAlbum … which I haven’t listened to for quite a while … admittedly, so …”

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But as for not many linking to “Cripple”, well, sure, not many, but some. Step forwards, The Robster with another of his suggestions that “don’t need much explaining”:

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Antony And The Johnsons – Cripple And The Starfish

Not just The Robster, either. Step forwards SWC:

“Eagulls released the imaginatively titled EP a few years back. The fourth track was called Cripple Hypokalemic Periodic Paralysis. But the best track on the episode was Moulting. And if that’s the correct link then I’ll run through Exeter tomorrow wearing just a feather boa and a pair of wellingtons.”

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29. Eagulls – Moulting

Regular Chain Gangers will know that when I insert the number of The Chain we’re at as part of the mp3 link, it can mean only one thing: that is the contributor has correctly guessed the next song in The (Official) Chain, has won some bonus points, and on this occasion gets an all expenses trip to Exeter!

Does anyone have any wellies SWC can borrow tomorrow?

Of course, on this occasion, I’m just winding you up. Of course that isn’t the next record. I don’t think it had even been released when The (Official) Chain was at this stage.

We’re nearly there though.

Just one more to go. And it wasn’t just The Robster and SWC who came up with a song linked to “Cripple”, yours truly did too. This is from the first album that I ever bought on CD, (purchasing it at the same time as The Housemartins ‘London 0 Hull 4’, in case you’re interested):

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John Lennon – Crippled Inside

Now I don’t know about you, but when I find out what the source record is each week – and I genuinely don’t look until I start writing the post – the first thing I do is go to my iTunes (other music and multi-media playing devices are available), type in some of the words from the song title, or from the album it features on, and see what I already have which might be of use. This week, it gave me that record, The Fall record that babylotti suggested, the Buffy Sainte Marie record that Lynchie suggested, and one other, which just so happens to be the real next link in The Chain. And you’re all going to wish you hadn’t shot your bolt with your links to Creeks, Cripples, and Water this week.

Here’s the link:

“…Neil Young wrote a song called ‘Cripple Creek Ferry’, from the ‘After the Goldrush’ album…”

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29. Neil Young – Cripple Creek Ferry

All that’s left for me to do this week is invite your suggestions for songs which you can link to “Cripple Creek Ferry” by Neil Young, via the Comments section below, along with your usual brief descriptions as to what links the two records together.

See you next week folks.

More soon.

The Chain #23

Welcome, welcome Chain Gangers new and old, welcome all.

Last week’s record was “Radar Love” by Golden Earring, and the gauntlet was thrown down for you to come up with records which linked to that five minute rock classic. Some of you chose to link to word “Radar”, some to the word “Golden”, one of you to the word “Ear”, but, and bless you all for this, not one of you went down the very simple route of suggesting songs which linked to the word “Love” or “Ring”.

Actually, that’s not quite true. For one from amongst our ranks linked to both. At the same time. We’ll deal with them later.

So, to your suggestions, and first up this week is Charity Chic from Charity Chic Music:

“Let’s get the cheese out the fridge early doors,” begins CC. Music to my ears, that. Regular readers will know that whilst we encourage, smart, clever, odd, witty, records here, we also enjoy a bit of cheese to off-set it all. So what does CC have in store for us?

“Golden Earring puts one in mind (or me at any rate) of Golden Brown by the Stranglers. There was a Boston Strangler leading to the poodle band Boston with More than a Feeling.”

If I could just clarify, Boston were a band from Boston who named their band Boston, that’s how full of innovative ideas they were. So clearly, Boston were not a band made up exclusively of Poodles. That would be ridiculous. There was a Yorkshire Terrier on keyboards too, and an American Hairless Terrier called Brian provided occasional backing vocals.

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Boston – More Than a Feeling

“I may well be back,” CC adds, somewhat ominously.

Now, once in a while a suggestion contains a bit of info that I didn’t know, and this week that dubious distinction goes to The Great Gog:

“Oh well, I’d better get it over with. For those that know about these things, there’s a bit of an elephant in the room with Golden Earring, or should I say Eggermont in the room. Japp Eggermont to be precise. Not content with providing a track for the Euro-version of Smashie & Nicey to play, Mr. Eggermont post-Golden Earring was responsible for the medley mania that blighted the UK Charts in 1981 with his Starsound project.”

In case you have no idea what GG is talking about here, the Starsound project was kind of like a prototype Jive Bunny, who simply mixed old pop hits together into a medley with an irritating drum beat syncing them all together. You can read about them here or if you’d like to actually hear one of them, this is the one that got to No. 2 in the UK charts in 1981:

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 Stars On 45 – Stars On 45

No need to thank me.

Anyway, sorry GG, I seem to have interrupted, do carry on.

“This launched many copyists, but perhaps the most interesting lurked on the b-side of Squeeze’s “Labelled With Love” single – “Squabs On Forty Fab”. Clearly, Glenn, Chris and the guys weren’t taking it terribly seriously, but it’s a better listen than any other the others that were around.”

See? I had no idea that a bloke from Golden Earring was responsible for all those records, nor did I know that Squeeze had done a parody, of sorts:

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Squeeze – Squabs On Forty Fab

Time to get settled now folks, as our nice Uncle Dirk from sexyloser is about to demonstrate the art of Comment Showboating:

“…in ‘Radar Love’, Golden Earring have a line which goes “And the radio played that forgotten song / Brenda Lee’s “Coming On Strong””.

Not only is this tune shamelessly forgotten indeed (although I have a feeling that someone might easily suggest it here in due course in order to rectify this situation)…”

Stop right there. We can do that right now:

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Brenda Lee – Coming On Strong

Do continue, Dirk.

“…it’s also a little known fact that this song’s title refers to Barrett Strong, American singer and songwriter, born February 5, 1941 in West Point, Mississippi.

Brenda Lee, although married to Ronnie Shacklett since 1963, apparently had a soft spot for lucky Barret as well, or is there any other explanation why she wrote a song about having sex with him and even describes her favourite position in the title?” [Erm…are you sure about this bit…? I’ve read this several times and can’t make out if you’re making a very rude joke or not – Ed.]

“And, friends, it must have been g.r.e.a.t. sex, because it was Barrett Strong who gave Brenda the nickname under which she was widely known until the end of her career: “Little Miss Dynamite”!

Also commonly not all too well known is that Barrett wanted more than just this short liaison, but it took him until 1973 until he responded with a song for Brenda: ‘Stand Up And Cheer For The Preacher’.

History shows us that his wish was never fulfilled by Brenda, nevertheless it’s my suggestion for this week’s link, so there you are!”

I have no idea whether any of this is true or not, so just in case, a disclaimer: the views of Dirk are not necessarily shared by the broadcaster.

Anyway, here’s the tune Dirk nominates, and rather fine it is too:

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Barrett Strong – Stand Up and Cheer for the Preacher

Time to welcome The Swede from Unthought of, though, somehow who proposes a song and a band I had no previous knowledge of, and who, on the strength of this song – which musically reminds me of Cowboy Junkies take on “Sweet Jane” from their The Trinity Sessions album – I’ve gone out and got me the album.

“There’s no way I can pass up such a (ahem) golden opportunity to suggest my favourite song of 2015. From Golden to Silver – ‘Silver John’ by This is the Kit.”

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This Is The Kit – Silver John

Onwards now to SWC from When You Can’t Remember Anything who submits:

“Radar makes me firstly think of MASH so that immediately gives us the opportunity to have a listen to the Manics version of theme tune to that.”

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Manic Street Preachers – Theme From M.A.S.H (Suicide Is Painless)

“But secondly” SWC continues, “Radar also makes me think of the wonderful Dawn of The Replicants’ single ‘Radars’.”

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Dawn Of The Replicants – Radars

Which seems an appropriate moment for me to slip one of my suggestions in, for the first record that sprang to my mind when I saw the source material was this, one of those “let’s stick this previously unreleased track on the Greatest Hits album in the hope it helps flog a few more copies” affairs:

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Blur – Music Is My Radar

And now, the return of Is This The Life‘s The Robster for his second (or should that be fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth..?) suggestions:

“A couple [ahem! – Ed] of suggestions from me: Radar Love was from an album called Moontan. Moon Safari was an album by Air featuring the excellent song Kelly Watch The Stars”

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Air – Kelly, Watch the Stars

“Another track from Moontan – Vanilla Queen – samples Marilyn Monroe who sang a song called I Wanna Be Loved By You…”

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Marilyn Monroe – I Wanna Be Loved By You

“A more obvious route – and a blatant excuse to get some David Gedge in here – takes us straight to Ears by Cinerama…”

0001459016_500Cinerama – Ears

“Alternatively, using the Golden tack – Gold Lion by Yeah Yeah Yeahs…”

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Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Gold Lion

“…or better still, Golden by Stephenhero (aka Patrick Fitzgerald of Kitchens Of Distinction) which features vocals by the delectable Tanya Donelly.”

stephenherogoldenepStephen Hero – Golden

“Better leave it at that – I’m getting greedy…” he (finally) signs off.

Y’think??

Now, I’ve never heard that Stephen Hero record before, so forgive me as I’m not entirely confident in the place I got it from: is it supposed to do that thing where it seems to go into a completely different song for no reason whatsoever? (Not saying I don’t like it, by the way, just wondered if I’ve picked me up some duffer of a tampered with version).

Ok, so The Robster emailed me to tell me it sounded like I had indeed been sold a pup and that what I seemed to have was a sampler for the whole EP, which just goes to show what an idiot I am. Link now updated to feature the correct song. Many thanks to the Robster for pointing me in the right direction with this one, which I like even more now that I’ve heard it properly!

Moving on to Alyson from What’s It All About, Alfie? who writes:

“I am (sadly) old enough to remember Golden Earring from when they first released Radar Love back in ’73 and I hated it! Not my thing at all and they stole valuable TOTP from my favourite teen idols of the day. Bit of a one-hit wonder though so they soon went away, but then what happens, they release the same bl**dy song again four years later! My musical tastes had evolved by this time but they still (to use a phrase last employed by my favourite person to stalk/spy on/copy, George) “rubbed me up the wrong way” – Again they were taking valuable air time away from the acts I did want to watch on television!

So, to pull a lyric from a song I really do like, they not only stole time:

One time, one time (but)
Two times, two times…..

Yes, a very tenuous link to the Fugees version of Killing Me Softly from me this week.”

I think I understand that connection, just about:

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The Fugees – Killing Me Softly

Remember how Charity Chic said they may be back later? Turns out, they weren’t ruddy well joking:

“In 1978 Radar Records released their first single (I Love The Sound of) Breaking Glass by Nick Lowe – hopefully got those brackets in the correct order Alyson!”

This prompted a mini-discussion (can two comments be classed as a discussion? Discuss.) as to whether there were any brackets in the song title in question, Alyson stating: “Not seeing brackets in any of my reference material for that one CC, although I’m not actually looking at the single so they might have snuck those pesky brackets in there.”

I was with CC on this one, right up until the point that, after uploading and naming the MP3, I checked the single sleeve. Oopsies.

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Nick Lowe – (I Love the Sound of) Breaking Glass

Luckily, it turns out that we’re all right. For it seems that in some countries, it was released with, and in some countries without, the brackets. For example, when it was released on Columbia Records in the USA, the brackets were included. As evidence:

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Glad to clear that up. And by the way, who said us bloggers were nerds?

Now does anyone know what time it is? That’s right: it’s George Time!

“Golden Earring were Dutch (I suppose they still are). So were Focus, but I chose them last week, but The Vengaboys were Dutch. I recognised We Like To Party (and did a little dance a la The Inbetweeners film which brought a smile to my partner’s face. Or was it a grimace…. ).”

Definitely the latter.

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Vengaboys – We Like to Party! (The Vengabus)

For those of you new round these parts, can I stress that this is not the sort of record that George usually suggests. He’s been under a lot of pressure recently…

To try and balance things out a little, I’ve spent much of my spare time since George suggested this trying to find a clip of the Wenger Boys from Sky One’s Soccer AM, but to no avail. In my quest, however, I did find an article about Vengaboys which read: “Vengaboys are a Dutch Eurodance group…[who were] never critically acclaimed”.

Hands up who knows can think of a really good reason why that might be?

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Nuff said.

Here’s Rol from My Top Ten; surely he’ll have some blinding suggestions for us?

“My first thought this time was that Golden Earring also had a song called The Twilight Zone and recently I put together a Top Ten Twilight Zone Songs (songs which could have been episodes of the amazing Rod Serling TV show). Number One on that list was Angie Baby by Helen Reddy because it freaks me out every time I listen to it.

However, I’ve disqualified the above as it’s way too self-referential.”

Oh shush. Such modesty. Read it here.

“So instead, I offer Mark Germino & The Sluggers’ classic DJ song Rex Bob Lowenstein, taken from the album Radartown. Rex Bob is a hero to music bloggers everywhere – he refuses to “play the song list they send in the mail” and when The Man tries to make him, he barricades himself in his studio and “plays smash and trash till they cuff him on the floor”.”

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Mark Germino and The Sluggers – Rex Bob Lowenstein

Over to Alex G from We Will Have Salad now:

“OK, sticking with Dutchness for a moment, one Dutch musician who passed through Golden Earring’s ranks was Robert-Jan Stips, later of art popsters Nits, from whom I nominate “Radio Shoes”. And since the first “R” of “RADAR” stands for Radio, that’s a connection by two different routes.”

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The Nits – Radio Shoes

“Also,” Alex continues, “I imagine most or all of Golden Earring wore shoes.”

Not according to The Great Gog, they don’t:

“Picking up from Alex G, a bit of lazy stereotyping would have the Dutch band’s footwear being clogs. This of course opens up the opportunity for a quick blast of Violinski’s “Clog Dance”.

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Violinski – Clog Dance

70s-tastic, Great Mate!

What time is it? It’s a quarter past George Time! And here he is with another contender for Comment Showboat of the week:

“Taking Gold as a starting point, directly under gold in the Periodic Table is Roentgenium, symbol Rg, named after Wilhelm Rontgen, the discoverer of X-rays. And The Butthole Surfers have a song with lines I Saw An X-Ray Of A Girl Passing Gas, from the Hairway To Steven album. (Apologies to German readers and Germano-philes for not using an umlaut in Rontgen.)”

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Butthole Surfers – I Saw an X-Ray Of a Girl Passing Gas

Last, but by no means least, of your suggestions this week, it’s welcome back to The Beard:

“Golden Earring are famously Dutch. The sport of darts has produced many famous Dutchmen, none more so than current world number one Michael Van Gerwen. In the glamour world of professional arrows, walk-on music is standard. His walk-on music is Seven Nation Army by The White Stripes. Frontman Jack White appears to have a low boredom threshold/strong work ethic and was also in, among others, The Raconteurs with a couple of gadges from The Greenhornes. My choice is The End Of The Night by The Greenhornes.”

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The Greenhornes – The End of the Night

I was going to post The White Stripes tune for you too, but CC only posted it over at his place a couple of days ago, so here’s the Glitch Mob Remix of it instead:

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The White Stripes – Seven Nation Army (The Glitch Mob Remix)

Now, you’ll recall that right at the top of this week’s post, I wrote this: “…not one of you went down the very simple route of suggesting songs which linked to the word “Love” or “Ring”.

Actually, that’s not quite true. For one from amongst our ranks linked to both. At the same time. We’ll deal with them later.”

Well the time to deal with them is now, and that person was yours truly. And surprisingly, I’m not going for the easy joke here. And this is the record:

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Pixies – I’ve Been Tired

Whilst Black Francis/Frank Black/whatever he’s calling himself this week and Kim Deal may be (or have been in the latter’s case) the famous ones in the Pixies, this overlooks their drummer, the fantastically named Dave Lovering. Which is probably why he plays an instrument that is played sitting down, to protect his Lovering. (You know when I said I wasn’t going for the easy joke? I lied.)

And one more from me. Some people claim to be able to use their Radar to establish what sexual preference a person is. Often this is referred to as a Gay-dar. Which sounds too much like this for me to be able to resist:

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Electric Six – Gay Bar

It also gives me the opportunity to post the quite brilliant video for it:

That’s enough Abraham Lincoln’s in posing pouches for this week, I think. Time to reveal what the BBC Radio 2 listening public nominated as their choice to follow on from Radar Love by Golden Earring:

“From ‘Radar Love’ to Elvis Costello’s record label, Radar, hence…”

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23. Elvis Costello & The Attractions – Radio Radio

CC – you were so close to gaining some bonus points. So near, and yet so far…

Ok, so you all know what to do next. Send me, via the Comments section below, you’re suggestions for records which can be linked to “Radio Radio” by Elvis Costello & The Attractions, along with your explanation of the link between the two (or in The Robster’s case, five).

See you back here in a week’s time!

(More soon)

Friday Night Music Club (Hot Dogs For Tea edition)

So, it’s over. The great Welsh adventure into Euro 2016 finally came to an end on Wednesday night when a rather fortuitous Portugal managed to put two absolute shinners past the mighty Dragons.

As promised last week, in their honour, this week’s Clwb Cerdd Nos Wener (Welsh for Friday Night Music Club, and this has been checked and verified by a Welsh speaking friend of mine) focuses on musical acts who have come from the Land of Song. Some are obvious, some less so. And there’s a lot to get through, so forgive me if I crack right on.

But first, a disclaimer: many of you will be familiar with The Robster’s very wonderful blog “Is This The Life?“, in which case you’ll also be familiar with his Welsh Wednesday thread. Inevitably, some of the same acts will pop up in this piece as have done over at his place, but where they do, I’ve tried to pick a different song. As I write this, The Robster is on post #94 – or #95 if you count his honouring of the Welsh football team late on Wednesday night – so if you hear anything you like in my post, then I’d recommend you pay him a visit for an absolute feast of all things Valley, like.

Ready? Tidy.

Right, let’s start by getting one of the big hitters out of the way. You all know who the Manic Street Preachers are, will be aware of their sad history and triumphant return, and that their single “Together Stronger” was the soundtrack to the Welsh campaign. So here’s something which I would offer to my dear friends who are heartbroken following Wales exit from the tournament:

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Manic Street Preachers – So Why So Sad (Avalanches Mix)

Don’t be sad. Cherish this. Lawd knows you’ve waited long enough. And you don’t know when it’s going to come around again. Although I suspect you won’t have such a long wait until the next time.

Here’s some Welsh language shenanigans to sort the Daffyds from the Dilwyns: a cover version especially recorded, I believe, for BBC Radio Cymru which I don’t think has been formally released (hence the absence of a proper sleeve):

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317. Candelas – Rhedeg i Paris

“Rhedeg i Paris” translates to mean “Run to Paris”, which seems an appropriate enough reason for them to cover it, what with the Euros being held in France and the final in Paris and everything.

The original of “Rhedeg i Paris” was by a Welsh punk rock band called Anhrefn (or sometimes Yr Anhrefn) which means “Disorder”, who hailed from Bangor, North Wales and who formed in 1982 and lasted until 1995.

They sounded like this:

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318. Yr Anhrefn – Dim Heddwch

(Last of the translations for you tonight: Dim Heddwch means No Peace)

Anhrefn were championed by John Peel, supported Joe Strummer on the Rock Against The Rich tour in 1988, and at one time had Super Furry Animals drummer Dafydd Ieuan amongst their ranks, but I’m sure they would agree the absolute pinnacle of their career came in 1992 when the Social Secretary at the Polytechnic of Wales insisted that St David’s Day be marked appropriately and put on a night of Welsh language acts, with Anhrefn top of the bill, and with a DJ playing nothing but Welsh records in between the acts. If I may misquote Max Boyce for a moment: I know, for I was that Social Secretary.

Years later, when I was in The Halfway pub in Pontcanna, Cardiff, I was approached by a very smiley chap who I half recognised, and he asked me what my name was. I told him, and he asked if I was the person responsible for said event all those years before. I conceded that I was, and he proceeded to buy me a pint and thank me; he was a proud Welsh-speaker, and was very dismayed at the scarcity of Welsh language entertainment around at the time, so had always treasured that night. Which made me feel quite proud, I must say.

Slightly better reaction than I got from the two girls in the Tut and Shive pub (RIP) in Cardiff who recognised me as “that wanker who booked Frank Sidebottom and wouldn’t give us our money back”, but you can’t win them all, I suppose.

Since I’ve mentioned Super Furry Animals, here’s one of there’s, a live favourite, and the B-side to 1997’s “Hermann Loves Pauline”:

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319. Super Furry Animals – Calimero

Back in time now to 1969, and a band who recorded several albums for The Beatles’ Apple label, and chalked up four Top 10 hits in the UK, including this one, which was written and produced by some chap called Paul McCartney. I wonder whatever happened to him?

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320. Badfinger – Come and Get It

The band’s name was a reference to “Bad Finger Boogie”, which was an early working title of Lennon & McCartney’s “With a Little Help From My Friends”, so called because Lennon had, according to legend, hurt his forefinger and only had one finger to play instruments with on the original demos (what happened to all of the rest of his fingers remains unclear) – although George Harrison would later claim that they were actually named after a stripper that the Beatles had known during their stint in Hamburg, who was called Helga Fabdinger. Hmmm. You decide, dear reader.

Perhaps Badfinger are best known, however, as being the creative force behind Harry Nilsson’s tear-jerking mega-smash “Without You”. The song, which was actually the amalgamation of two songs, the verses penned by Pete Ham and the chorus by Tommy Evans, won them the Ivor Novello (also Welsh) “Song of the Year” award in 1972.

The success of the song, and the subsequent arguments within the band over the royalties the song attracted, not only tore the band apart, but also led to the suicide of Evans in 1982.

Time for something more cheerful, I think, and to a man without whom no post about Welsh artistes would be complete:

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321. Tom Jones – What’s New Pussycat?

I’ve started to get the hang of watching major events whilst interacting on Twitter now – Eurovision this year was hilarious – and Tom was featured in one of my favourite Tweets from Wednesday night, courtesy of London Lee, who many of you will know from his excellent “Crying All The Way To The Chip Shop” blog who posted this:

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See? We don’t just restrict our fun and japes to our blogs, you know.

Link ahoy! Yes, one of Tom’s finest moments was “Green Green Grass of Home”, which leads me nicely on to my next record, which I was going to play in my “Same Title, Different Song” thread until I realised that there’s no “…of Home” in the title of the version on the “Songs of Ignorance” album , which I own, although there was on an earlier version of the song, which I don’t:

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322. Murry the Hump – Green Green Grass

Main Murry man Matthew and I have a few mutual friends, and we once spent a hugely enjoyable evening – right before Murry the Hump were due to play the Barfly in Cardiff for what I think was their last ever gig – playing drinking games and getting right royally trashed in The Rummer Tavern in Cardiff (You’re getting a right little tour of my favourite drinking dens in The Diff tonight, aren’t you?). It didn’t seem to stop them playing a blisteringly brilliant set afterwards, mind.

If you like that, I can thoroughly recommend the whole album; each song is a little diamond, just as catchy as “Green Green Grass” and with witty lyrics to die for. Matthew is now in The Keys (note: not The Black Keys), who I’ll probably feature on these pages sooner or later.

Now, some might say that Welsh fashion leaves a lot to be desired. Not me, you understand. Some people. Those other people. So here to dispel that myth are 1980s fashion gurus and ozone layer botherers The Alarm:

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323. The Alarm – Spirit of ’76

See? Cool as toast.

When I was a kid, The Alarm were almost exclusively liked by lads who also listed U2, Simple Minds and Big Country as their favourite bands; stadium rockers, all rousing choruses and fists punched in the air. Bar the occasional song which is the exception that proves the rule, I’m not a fan of any of those other three acts, but I do have to admit to having a bit of a soft spot for Mike Peters and the boys, that song in particular.

Something a little more contemporary now, although the sound is like Belle & Sebastian playing Northern Soul,  and the title echoes back to a certain Northern Soul classic by Frank Wilson that I once had played for me on 6Music (at my own request, I should add):

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324. The School – Do I Love You?

Okay, last one for this week, and I’m going to wrap things up with five words which would normally, understandably, compel many of you to say “Naww, you’re alright, you can stop now if you like”.

Those five words are: Here’s one by the Stereophonics.

Now. I agree that Stereophonics are a fairly dire bunch, but I have to admit to having greatly enjoyed their debut album, “Word Gets Around”, when it first came out. The sound was the same, bar-room rock drudge they peddle to this day, albeit slightly, but not much, rougher round the edges, and with far fewer dreadful ballads, but it was the lyrical quality that struck me most about that album, many of the songs providing little vignettes, stories about real people from the towns and villages the band members hailed from.

But then they went and got famous and started writing guff about how hard it is being on tour (“Have a Nice Day”) or how much the music press hate them and how unfair that is (“Mr Writer”), and that little spark of promise was gone.

Truth be told, it had been almost entirely extinguished by the time the second album, “Performance and Cocktails” came out – with the exception of one song on said album, which is an absolute belter.

So I give you the last decent record Stereophonics ever made:

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325. Stereophonics – The Bartender and The Thief

That’s all for this week; I’ll be back with the second (and final) ten \9poddibly eleven or twelve) in my homage to the Welsh football team and to Welsh music next week.

Oh and just in case you’re wondering what the “Hot Dogs For Tea” in the title of this post refers to, it’s this:

ClJqAFtWQAAwhAY

More soon.

#TogetherStronger

I should apologise for the absence of the usual Friday Night Music Club post tonight, but I’m not going to.

Wales, my former homeland, where I lived for twenty years, have just beaten Belgium, the 2nd best team on the world, 3-1 and are now in the semi-finals of Euro 2016.

Words I never thought I’d say, let alone type, but words that truly are making my heart sing like a male voice choir right now.

I, like many of you, have just watched one of the greatest results in Welsh footballing history. And I was actually at the Millennium Stadium back in 2002 when Wales beat Italy 2-1.

That proved to be a false dawn, but my god tonight’s result has made the 14 years in between worthwhile.

(And no, this isn’t me band-wagon jumping, check out some of my previous posts if you like.)

I had a song lined up to play if Wales won, but I didn’t want to write the post in advance for fear of casting the usual Jez-Jinx on them. The BBC got in first by playing it over the end credits of the coverage (they should be privatised for having the audacity to steal my thunder, of course), but what the hell, here it is again, and of course it’s by the Manics:

manic-street-preachers-you-love-us-columbia-sony

Manic Street Preachers – You Love Us

Yes, we bloody do.

Normal Friday Night Music Club service will be restored next week. And if Wales manage to beat Portugal on Wednesday night (I make no predictions, for obvious, Jez-Jinxing reasons) then that will be a selection of songs from my former countrymen and women.

Fingers crossed, eh?

I’m off to my local off-licence in the probably vain hope that they have some Brains Bitter I can celebrate with.

More soon.