It Was 30 Years Ago Today…

For some reason, 2022 is throwing up all sorts of milestone anniversaries.

I say “for some reason”, it’s not really that complicated: time passes, things that happened in the past happened on certain days, sometimes those days coincide, if not in days, then in years.

For example: we all recall the celebrity death cull that was 2016. Six years ago. OK, it’s not a nice round figure this year, like, for example something that happened thirty years ago, but all those deaths have an anniversary this year. And every year.

I try not to focus too much on the sad times, but when the anniversary of a special record comes around, then I’m more than interested.

And that’s where we are today, for it was thirty years ago today that this got released as a single:

Manic Street Preachers – Motorcycle Emptiness

To this day, I still think this is their finest moment (although often Motown Junk runs it pretty close), never equalled, never bettered.

And then I learn that this came out 30 years ago, and I suddenly feel very old indeed.

They’re still going, are the Manics, despite their pledge back in the day that they would make one album and then disappear. I can’t honestly say I’ve listened to, let alone bought, any of their records for quite some time now; they seemed to be treading water in a way that they probably wouldn’t be were Richie still around and contributing his amazing lyrics.

Back then, they weren’t the stadium rock outfit they are now: they were simply not like anything else on offer at the time. They dressed in pink feather boas and big plastic sunglasses, spray-painted slogans on white jeans and tee-shirts, and back in 1992, just as Madchester was dying a death, there was nobody else doing that, or going: “More guitars and songs about eating disorders is what’s needed!”. Plus, live Nicky Wire and Riche looked like they were having so much fun, strutting and swirling and preening whilst singer/lead guitarist James and drummer Sean held it all together, it’s no wonder the first time I saw them I thought they must be miming.

Anyway, as a special anniversary treat, here are the extra tracks that featured on a the CD single, one of which is a particularly punchy Alice Cooper cover, another a live version of track from their Generation Terrorists album:

Manic Street Preachers – Bored Out Of My Mind

Manic Street Preachers – Under My Wheels

Manic Street Preachers – Crucifix Kiss (Live 1992)

God, I feel old.

More soon.

R.I.P. CC

It’s been a pretty shitty week for celebrity deaths, as it goes.

For not only did we lose Andy Fletcher of Depeche Mode and Ray Liotta, a fine actor best know for his starring role in Goodfellas – one of the greatest gangster movies ever made – we also lost Cathal Coughlan.

Cathal is best known for a) having an often mis-pronounced name, and b) being the lead singer of both Microdisney and Fatima Mansions.

Microdisney’s Crooked Mile album, whilst disliked by their hard-core fans as being a bit too light and accessible, is a keystone record in my musical development. When my old buddy Richie first played me The Smiths, Billy Bragg and The Chesterfields, said Microdisney album was also popped onto the turntable.

I see what the die-hard fans mean, because I find their earlier stuff impenetrable, and by comparison the songs on Crooked Mile a near-perfect mix of pop sensibilities and challenging lyrics.

A couple (well, three actually) of examples:

Microdisney – Armadillo Man

Microdisney – Big Sleeping House

Microdisney – People Just Want To Dream

Having just discovered them, I was sad when Microdisney split up, but delighted when one day, watching the much missed SNUB TV, this popped up:

As I said on Twitter when I read of his passing, nobody did righteous fury and anger better than Cathal, and here’s a prime example, a record I *coughs* acquired on white label back when I was a DJ at college, and which has never left my collection since. Whoever nicked all my Smiths albums and 12″s (amongst other things) didn’t know what they left behind; with it’s description handwritten in pencil it’s priceless to me:

Fatima Mansions – Blues for Ceausescu

And it shouldn’t be forgotten that Fatima Mansions had a top ten hit (in the same way as Billy Bragg had a #1, riding on the coat-tails of Wet Wet Wet), acting as the flip on the double A-side of the Manics cover of the M.A.S.H. theme tune, with their irreverently fucked-up version of a record which massively outstayed its welcome in the #1 slot:

Fatima Mansions – Everything I Do [I Do It For You]

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

And we shouldn’t over look his similarly scathing version of R.E.M.’s horrible Shiny Happy People:

Fatima Mansions – Shiny Happy People

Goodbye, demented genius. Rest easy.

More soon.

Meaty, Beaty, Dead and Buried

So, for the second week running, I find myself having to write about the passing of a legend. Last week I dodged the sadness of Ronnie Spector’s death by passing it to a fellow blogger who had already written a beautiful piece which said all that I wanted to say, but I suspect the love from the blogging community at the news that Michael Lee Aday aka Meat Loaf has died may be a little thinner on the ground.

So here’s the first thing I want to say: Bat Out of Hell is a great record. Just because it’s one of the most commercially successful records ever does not make it a bad record. You know that phrase: 50,000,000 Elvis Fans Can’t Be Wrong? Well, yes they can, but in the case of Bat Out of Hell (and, fair dues, Elvis too) they’re not.

I’ve written about my love for that album before, here, should you wish to check it out.

Although he hasn’t made a record I liked for 40 years or so, and anything he did release which didn’t involve Jim Steinman should really be avoided, I loved Meat Loaf for he was the soundtrack to a part of my youth.

There was a really good documentary on BBC4 last night about him, called Meat Loaf: In and Out of Hell which I can thoroughly recommend. If you’re in the UK it’s currently available to stream on the BBC iPlayer.

But I’ve noticed a worrying trend starting with these two most recent celebrity deaths. Is there a link? Or is this just a way for me to shoehorn a loads of great songs into one post?

Well, the latter, obviously.

I speak of course of the By My Baby drums.

Listen to this:

The Ronettes – Be My Baby

That there drum fill at the start of the record, echoed throughout, is an iconic pop sound, often lifted, appropriated, referenced, stolen, call it what you will by acts that followed.

For example, here’s a song by Meat Loaf which has it all the way through:

Meat Loaf – You Took The Word Right Out Of My Mouth

So if the curse of the Be My Baby drums is true (which it isn’t) then this lot need to start worrying:

Bat For Lashes – What’s a Girl To Do

and:

The Jesus & Mary Chain – Just Like Honey

and:

Manic Street Preachers – Everything Must Go

and:

Camera Obscura – Eighties Fan

and:

Car Seat Headrest – My Boy (Twin Fantasy)

and:

Lana Del Ray (feat. The Weeknd) – Lust for Life

(Tempting fate a bit with that title, Lana…)

and finally:

Amy Winehouse – Back to Black

Ah. Fair point. Bit late to warn her, I suppose.

Still, this just proves my point (which I’m obviously not seriously making).

Anyway…

More soon.

Friday Night Music Club

For quite some time now, I’ve been pondering what it is that is preventing me from posting with the same regularity as I was last year.

I’ve worked it out.

Regular readers will know that I generally sit on a Friday night, have a few drinks and write posts for the next week. But for a while now, I’ve become preoccupied on doing a new mix.

Warning: artist at work excuse incoming.

See, whilst they seem remarkably unpopular, I really enjoy piecing together a long playlist/mix/call it what you will, and that inevitably means a few drafts which don’t quite, to quote Echo & The Bunnymen, cut the mustard.

So, I’ve been working on this mix for some time now, but somehow something always seemed to prevent me from finishing it, be it me tinkering with the running order, or thinking of new tunes to toss in, or some kind of technical calamity, or (more often) listening to it and realising I’ve utterly messed up a mix and I simply can’t bear to have anyone else listen to it.

I’m not going to pretend all of the mixes between tunes here are perfect – there’s at least one which I know isn’t – but I’ve reached the point where it’s close enough to let it go and move on to something else, before I drive myself mad searching for perfection.

So here’s my latest mix, imperfect though it may be; frustrating as it has been, I really like this one, which starts off in the usual way – slowly – before getting into a groove which includes Kings of Leon from before they went stadium and knew how to use a cowbell, a new(ish) track by The Chemical Brothers, an obligatory Soulwax remix, two of the finest female pop stars going: Miley Cyrus & Dua Lipa (not on the same tune, sadly), the occasional hidden ‘joke’ (by which I mean it seemed funny when I first put the songs together, less so now), via Madonna having a short chat with Johnny Cash.

It’s the usual mix of songs you love, songs you’ve forgotten about, and songs which make you think “What the hell has he put this on here for??”. Some might say eclectic, but I couldn’t possibly comment. Think mainly Indie guitar stuff, with a few dance tunes, 80s pop songs and a couple of timeless classics – at least one of which you probably won’t have heard before – thrown in.

As always, no track-listing – I like to imagine your faces when the next song kicks in – but there’s a list of featured artists on the right hand side in case you want to see what you’re letting yourself in for. Which is a treat, obviously. If you desperately need to know what a track is, either Shazam it or, if you’d like to feed my ego, ask me via the Comments at the bottom of this post.

Usual disclaimer: any skips and jumps are down to the mixing software; any mis-timed mixes (and, as I say, there is at least one) is down to me. Either way: Sorry!

One more thing: you may recall that last time out I mentioned that my brother had said he managed to predict what I was going to play next, which annoyed me greatly. No such criticism of the last mix, although he told me he listened to it whilst out on his morning run, so some of the sudden gear changes weren’t helpful. I’ve tried to rectify that this time, with a relatively steady beat and tempo maintained throughout (after you’ve got past the traditional slow start) for those of you who listen to this whilst doing your exercises (not that I really understand what that means). The danger was that it would denigrate into either a Ministry of Sound pumping dance mix or a Top Gear/Best Driving Songs…in the World…Ever! playlist, but I think the song choices just about keep us on the right side of that happening.

Let’s say it starts slowly, gets into a groove, and then has more false endings than a Status Quo single.

I’m a bit annoyed that since I first decided to include it, at least on song here has popped up in an advert – and you know how I feel about them – for burgers, of all things. Rest assured, the advert in question was not the inspiration for the song’s inclusion. You’ll know it when you hear it, I think.

Oh and there are several songs which feature effing and jeffings – “sexual swear words” as Simon Bates used to say at the start of videos – so please avoid if you are easily offended by unfettered vulgarity and sauciness. Look, there’s a Goldie Lookin’ Chain tune which is probably the rudest and most inappropriate (but funny) thing I’ll ever post, so beware.

For a limited time (until I do another one, so y’know, could be months), you can stream or download it via Soundcloud here.

More soon.

Late Night Stargazing

In case you were wondering about the somewhat erratic nature of my recent posts, I’m in the middle (hopefully) of a bout of insomnia.

I simply cannot sleep at night, but as soon as I’ve finished work and my arse has hit the settee, I’m out for a couple of hours, which of course means I can’t sleep that night, and so on and so forth ad infinitum.

What this means is that I end up laying on the sofa at ouch o’clock, trying to find something mind-numbingly dull enough to send me to sleep.

It hasn’t worked yet.

What has evolved is a routine of programmes I end up watching: Premiership Years on Sky Sports (“I’ll go back to bed as soon as Spurs are mentioned…wait, which year is this? Who was managing us then…?”), any episode of Police Interceptors, or something of it’s ilk, hopefully one of the episodes set in rural Wales where PC Paddy Duwayne is the hero, snuffling out bail absconders from underneath beds or behind doors; and if I’m still awake at 4:30 (which I am) then The £100K Drop with squawking Davina (“I love these guys!”) kills an hour, and then it’s time for a repeat of Countdown followed by a couple of episodes of Cheers (which is just as brilliantly written and acted as I remember; I imagine you can stream them on All4 and if you can I’d heartily recommend you do) and then…oh, time for work,

But the other night, I caught a large chunk of a Manic Street Preachers gig, filmed in Manchester to promote the launch of their Everything Must Go album. Billed as their “comeback concert”, it was the first time they had performed since guitarist, lyricist and cheese salad sharer Richey Edward had gone missing several months earlier.

I flicked on to the channel just as they were launching into a rousing version of Motown Junk, my favourite Manics tune, much posted on these pages before. What I don’t know if they played – but given it features a harp, I somewhat doubt it – is this absolute beauty from the same album, one of those rare moments when lead singer James Dean Bradfield actually sings, rather than shouts (not a criticism, by the way – just my way of saying he’s actually got rather a nice singing voice which doesn’t get trotted out enough):

Manic Street Preachers – Small Black Flowers That Grow In The Sky

More soon.

The Chain #46

I got quite excited the other day, when I went into my Drafts folder and saw this title.

“Zut alors!” I exclaimed, thinking that I must have at the very least started writing the next installment of The Chain. And that I was French or German or whatever that language is.

But no, my laziness and ineptitude was laid out there before me, for all I had done was write the title, and that was it. Classic me, if my deadline nightmares are anything to go by.

Anyway, hello, and welcome back to the latest in what is turning out to be an increasingly infuriating occasional series: The Chain.

But at least it’s here, right? We all need distractions and things to think about at the moment, things to fill the time, and surely there’s no finer way to spend some time than reading what folks from all around the world can link to one particular song. It’s what Covid-19 was invented for, surely.

A brief reminder for those new to the shnizz we get up to here: we’re working our way through the songs played on The Chain section of Radcliffe & Maconie’s 6Music show, coming up with alternative suggestions, and listening to them all instead of just the one (Mrs Wembley). 80s sitcom gag, there, to help you acclimatise to the level of writing you can expect should you venture further.

I used to write these once a week, but then couldn’t be arsed lacked inspiration for a year or so, brought it back and suddenly find myself wondering where the days/weeks have gone and how it’s got to the point where I really should have written it by now has arrived.

Anyway, blah blah blah poor old me….let’s be off.

This episode, just to be different, we’re not going to start with the source record from last time. Well not quite, anyway.

No, instead, we’re going start with the first part of one of Rol from My Top Ten‘s suggestions:

The album version of Tubthumping opens with an inspirational quote from the great Pete Postlethwaite, taken from the movie ‘Brassed Off’…

Dammit, it’s done my head in for years trying to remember where I recognised that from! Cheers, Rol!

Chumbawamba – Tubthumping (Album Version)

Before we go any further with Rol’s suggestion, I’ll hand you over to one of the two people who insist on emailing me (which is fine, by the way) their suggestions rather than popping them in the Comments section:

You may recall that last time out The Great Gog got a little obsessed with the county of Hampshire. And rightly so: if Hampshire had a church steeple with a 123-metre spire, then them pesky Ruskies would be queuing up to smear Novochok all over it and any corporate Italian restaurant chain in the immediate vicinity (I’m nothing if not topical).

Anyway, things don’t appear to have changed much in the Land of the Gog:

The album containing Tubthumping is Tubthumper.

Thumper is a rabbit in the animated film Bambi.

There are lots of cartoon rabbits in the animated film Watership Down.

Watership Down is set in some Hampshire fields – which could take us all the way back…

Art Garfunkel – Bright Eyes

Is it too early to be handing out points for Comments Showboating? I think not: POINTS!

By the way, I’m not going to post the Points Table every time I write one of these, as nothing much will change from one post to another. It’d be like looking at any sports league table over the past four weeks. I’ll update things and do it every couple of posts or so.

Or…The Great Gog continues…stretching the link to breaking point (You’re by no means the worst cuplrit, fill your boots)…given my ramblings above…[this] would seem appropriate:

Bright Eyes – Down in a Rabbit Hole

Which gives me an unexpectedly early opportinty to to dust off my catchprase (he says, as he dons a spangly suit).

*Ahem*

Well, if you’re having that, then [all together now] I’m having this:

Chas & Dave – Rabbit

Sorry, Rol, where were we?

The soundtrack to Brassed Off was performed by the Grimethorpe Colliery Band, Rol continues. The Grimethorpe Colliery Band also played on this famous John Peel favourite:

Roy Harper – When An Old Cricketer Leaves The Crease

Next up, over to The Robster from the annoyingly still dormant Is This the Life blog who offers this:

All I could come up with is Get Up by R.E.M. but I’m sure I can come up with something else given time. Probably got, what, 18 months before the next installment? which is a bit rich, coming from the man who only posts anything at the end of the year. Go on click that link to his blog, let’s see if we can’t get him back in action. Your country needs you, Rob!

I posted the album version of this song not so long ago in my I’m Not Too Keen on Mondays series, so here’s a slightly different version, a live one, which pops up as one of the bonus tracks on the Collector’s Edition of the Shiny Happy People CD single.

But since the band themselves have practically disowned that single (guitarist Peter Buck once described it as “relentlessly upbeat” and also said “If we did one of those per record, I could see how it could get a little embarrassing”) maybe we should too; it’s notable for it’s absence from many of the Greatest Hits compilations, despite it being their =4th biggest hit in the UK (after, in reverse order: Leaving New York (#5), E-Bow The Letter (#4) and The Great Beyond (#3))

They weren’t so embarrased by it that they declined to do this, though (and who could blame them: would you turn down the chance to appear with the Muppets on Sesame Street???)

I love that the female vocalist is a Muppet who looks like Kate Pierson from The B-52s who, as you all know, provided the additional vocals on the single.

But I digress: this version is neither the album version nor the tucked-away-on-a-limited-edition-CD single version, but one I *coughs* obtained from a long gone and much missed blog called (I think…) The Independence of Tractors (long-time bloggers and blog followers may be able to jog my memory….I’m thinking of featuring this soon and would like to accredit, so if anyone has any info….y’know….), who once posted the whole of the band’s Tourfilm DVD as a series of mp3s:

R.E.M. – Get Up (Tourfilm Version)

Onwards, then, to the next suggestion, and to Alyson from What’s It All About? who proffers this:

I got a bit worried when you mentioned Jarvis and his controversial stunt at the Brits as I remember whose expense it was at. But no, it was our friendly water boys who if I remember correctly soaked Two Jags Prescott. Sticking to my Scottish band theme I’m therefore going to go with The Waterboys for the next link and sticking with my “water” theme in this comments box, the song….

The Waterboys – Fisherman’s Blues

I think I should step in and clarify that, according to their Wikipedia page, they’re a Scottish-Irish band..

Anyway, nice of you to bring up the subject of Chumbawamba’s dust up with John Precott at The Brits, as this gives us licence to go off at a bit of a tangent.

To start things off, here’s George:

A Chumbawumba was involved in an altercation with then deputy PM John Prescott, who was the MP for Hull. Also from Hull was Mick Ronson, who played guitar on:

Lulu – The Man Who Sold the World

It’s not really a surprise that Ronson was involved, given who wrote the song and who – keen-eared listeners will have noticed – also provides backing vocals on that: one Mr D Bowie Esq.

George adds: I was going to go from John “Two Jags” Prescott to The Jags and Back of my Hand, but changed my mind.

What, and you think that’s going to stop me posting it? Of course you don’t, you know I won’t be able to resist:

The Jags – Back Of My Hand

Since we’re on Prescott, indulge me for a moment with my two favourite clips involving him. The first isn’t really about him, but it is from a documentary he made back in 2008 called Prescott – The Class System And Me:

I guarantee you, she voted Brexit.

And then there’s this notorious clip:

In his defence: a) what would you do if someone chucked an egg at you? and b) later (admittedly when he’d had time to get someone else to write a witty response think of something clever to say, he came up with this: “Well, Tony Blair asked me to go out and connect with the electorate….”

Anyway, that leads me to my next suggestion of the week:

The Chemical Brothers (feat. Tim Burgess) – The Boxer

Over now to Martin from New Amusements who proffers this Prescott related…um… jewel, I guess:

Like George, I’m going with a John Prescott connection, but hope to craft mine into a Double Linker. Yes, Danbert Nobacon once up-ended an ice-bucket over John Prescott at the Brits, but John Prescott was also memorably once replaced on ‘Have I Got News For You’ with a tub of lard, so I can surely claim a double link to Tubthumping for anything lard-related, so I’ll pitch:

The Shirehorses – If You Tolerate This Piss

He’s not done yet: …which, lest we forget, featured Marc “Lard” Riley. Since this is also about drinking, much like Chumbawumba’s chorus, could this be a Triple Linker? And maybe a point for worst suggestion of the week?

I don’t think I can refuse, can I, dear reader? It’s unquestionably the worst record of the week (POINT!) and he has managed to get a triple link out of this, the first time this has happened as far as I can recall (Ermmmm…points, I guess….).

I think we need to cleanse our palate a little, and remind ourselves that Martin could easily have dodged the sub-Barron Knights tosh that is The Shirehorses by referencing it and then directing us to this:

Manic Street Preachers – If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next

Which brings me back to Rol, whose first suggestion was this:

The Manic Street Preachers must be guilty of Tubthumping, since that’s what Street Preachers do.

Alice Nutter was in Chumbawamba. The Manics once covered an Alice Cooper song. So…

Manic Street Preachers – Under My Wheels

If that’s not a double-linker, than I don’t know what is.

Well, yes, Yes it is. POINTS!

Anyway, for continuity purposes, take a step back. If You Tolerate This… was the band’s first #1 single in the UK (I’m sure this can all be traced back to a shared cheese salad…) and it contains the line “Well, if I can shoot rabbits, then I can shoot fascists”, which leads me to another draft post of mine which I never got round to finishing. And neither Chas nor Dave are anywhere in sight.

This one even had a semi-clever title: “You’re Not The One For Me, Fascist”.

I’ll hand over to the ever wonderful Charity Chic to explain:

Chumbawumba recorded a song with Credit to the Nation called ‘The Day the Nazi Died’…

Chumbawamba & Credit to the Nation – The Day The Nazi Died (1993 Mix)

Ordinarily, I wouldn’t allow a suggestion which was simply “X recorded the source record, and they also recorded this”, but since this was a collaboration with the frankly quite marvellous Credit to the Nation, I’ll let it slide.

Plus: Charity Chic has a point to make:

….Morrissey (who may or may not be a Nazi) – he continues (“Not my words, the words of Top Gear car magazine!”) had a song called:

Morrissey – First of the Gang to Die

…And he is a bit of a tub these days who could probably do with a good thumping…Charity Chic signs off.

Just in case you’re not sure what CC is banging on about, or on which side of the fence you should be sitting when it comes to the whole “Is Morrissey a racist?” question, well I’ll leave you to make your own mind up.

And here to help you is a picture of him performing live on The Jimmy Fallon Show in May 2019:

And here’s a close-up of the badge he’s wearing on his lapel:

In case you’re not familiar with it, and I hope you’re not, that is a For Britain badge.

For Britain are not nice people.

Oh my, indeed.

Here’s my rule of thumb when it comes to Morrissey, which you are welcome to adopt: yes, when he was in The Smiths he made some inflammatory comments in interviews, but none of them leaked into his lyrics. Since The Smiths split and he went solo, they have. Regularly.

So: The Smiths – fine to still express love and admiration; Morrissey solo – tread carefully.

Which leads me to a suggestion from Jules of Music From Magazines fame, which *checks notes* I’m disqualifying becuase *checks notes*…well, I’m not sure why to be honest, but I am and that’s that:

Carrying on with the high five, Mel Brooks ‘Hitler Rap’

Ah now, I remember; in response to Charity Chic’s anti-Moz post, Jules responded: A high five for that and I don’t think that’s enough to allow it.

Yes, I am a strict Taskmaster, and yes, Greg Davies, watch your back!

What else have you got, Jules?

As I am a tad partial to a cider drink or eight anything I suggest at closing time will make sense….

I beg to differ, but nonetheless:

Tom Waits – Closing Time

Please allow me to interject with something more cheerful but less good:

Semisonic – Closing Time

And then with something less good and less cheerful:

Leonard Cohen – Closing Time

Ok, who’s left?

Well, long time readers of The Chain will know that certain things crop up repeatedly. For sure is eggs is eggs, someone will suggest either a record by The Clash or Bruce Springsteen just to annoy George, and Jules will suggest something by Lambchop.

No, not that Lambchop….

So let’s unclasp the shackles and let Jules free; I have to say that I almost rejected all that you are about to enjoy, until I thought about his first suggestion a little harder:

Any crossword fan would see the anagram “wham bam Cuba” and the country’s name was nailed by the Gibson Brothers:

Gibson Brothers – Cuba

Don’t think Debbie Gibson was related but her role in the film “Mega Python vs. Gatoroid” was ably supported by Tiffany...

Tiffany – I Think We’re Alone Now

Whoa there! You can’t mention Debbie Gibson and expect me not to slide this in, for no other reason than to direct you away from the schmaltz:

Mojo Nixon & Skip Roper – Debbie Gibson Is Pregnant With My Two Headed Love Child

Well, that hasn’t lost any of it’s charm, has it?

Right, where were we? Ah yes, with Jules. Off you go, feller. Pretend I said nothing. I promise not to interupt again.

Ah yes “Breakfast At Tiffany’s”, not that song

What, this song….? (I lied)

Deep Blue Something – Breakfast At Tiffany’s

Jesus, I’d forgotten how much I hate that record.

…not that song, but the film that featured Moon River...

This..?

Audrey Hepburn – Moon River

At last! A bit of class is introduced around these parts!

Oh wait, he’s not done yet.

…but more importantly was based on a novella by Truman Capote. Harry S. Truman was the 33rd U.S. president, the 37th was Richard Nixon….

Lambchop – The Old Gold Shoe

There it is! Normality restored.

Where next? Step up to the plate, if you will, Rigid Digit:

Tubthumping – a synonym for drumming (or it is in my world anyway).

Drummers doing solo singles? Not a rare thing. Plenty of stuff from Ringo…

Ringo Starr – It Don’t Come Easy

….and Phil Collins

Phil Collins – In The Air Tonight

Now, let’s be honest: every time we’re unlucky enough to hear that, all we can really think of is this:

…Dave Grohl left the drum stool, strapped on a guitar and became Mr Foo…which sounds like a George Formby record (“Oh Mr Foo, what shall I do…? A niche joke, I know), but I’ve gone off at enough tangents, so we’ll leave that.

Foo Fighters – The Pretender

Even Keith Moon managed a solo album (word of advice: approach with caution).

I have to draw the line somewhere…

But I’m choosing the drummer who was invited to join the reformed ELP in the mid-80s for two reasons:

1) He was a great drummer

2) His surname began with P

Cozy Powell – Dance With The Devil

Let’s hand the baton on to Walter from A Few Good Times In My Life:

The main thing of Tubthumping is keep your head up whatever will be. This leads me to:

Curtis Mayfield – Keep on Keeping On

 …otherwise by…

The Redskins – Keep On Keepin’ On!

If I could award points for Best Record of The Week, that would win, hands down.

Back then to some email submissions I received, and I’ll hand over to Pat from phonicpat for a bit:

“….a couple of suggestions – a link to a thumping:

Earl Vince & The Valiants – Somebody’s Gonna Get Their Head Kicked In Tonite

This song has featured in The Chain before so strictly speaking should be disqualified, but looking back I see that both this and The Rezillos version were suggsted at the same time, and, unable to choose between the two, I posted both. So I’ll let this slide too…but only so I can post my favourite record about somebody getting their head kicked in:

The Jam – Down In The Tube Station At Midnight

What else have you got, Pat?

Elvis Presley – Heartbreak Hotel

…link being Chumbawamba covered this on the “Fuck EMI” compilation.

Which leads me back to The Robster, who hasn’t quite had the eighteen months he ribbed me with earlier to think things over, but nonetheless has returned with this:

I remember when Tubthumping came out, it was released on EMI *shock-horror* a filthy major label. The band was deluged with accusations of selling out and going back on its DIY ethos. But one of the reasons they signed to EMI was because previous label One Little Indian rejected the ‘Tubthumper’ album as they didn’t like its sound. The band subsequently signed to EMI as “…experience had taught us that in a capitalist environment almost every record company operates on capitalist principles. Our previous record label One Little Indian didn’t have the evil symbolic significance of EMI but they were completely motivated by profit. Our position was that whoever we signed with would want us not for our ideas but for the potential profit, so we’d battle for a contract where we still had autonomy.”

So to that end, I’m offering up…a song about the music industry’s obsession with making moolah with little regard for the art:

The Kinks – The Money Go Round

Hang on a minute: that’s two mentions of the same record company in as many messages. It’s almost like somebody has manipulated it so the suggestions fell this way…

Sex Pistols – E.M.I.

We’re on the home stretch now, I promise. And with the finish line in sight, the baton is thrust into Alex G’s hand:

Of course, a song about a man who drinks a whiskey drink, a cider drink, a lager drink AND a vodka drink naturally leads us to Shane MacGowan. I suppose any song would do, but just to keep the theme going, it may as well be

Shane MacGowan and the Popes – That Woman’s Got Me Drinking

What Alex G omits to mention is that That Woman’s Got Me Drinking features the guitar work of one Mr Johnny Depp. When he’s not acting in the latest Tim Burton movie, or appearing in an advert for something smelly, or getting stopped at the border of an antipodean country trying to smuggle dogs across and subsequently being forced to make an apologetic if half-arsed video rather than go to jail, or defending himself against allegations of domestic abuse for that matter, there’s nothing Mr Depp likes more than to pop up in unexpected places:

Where were we?

Ah yes, booze related songs. I’m surprised there wasn’t more of these. Let me chuck one into the mix:

The Wurzels – I Am A Cider Drinker

And yes, The Shirehorses song is worse than that.

Hold up, Pat’s got another one:

Several booze songs come to mind but I’ll go for…

Pulp – Whiskey in the Jar

…on the bonus cd of Different Class, Jarvis trying very hard to keep his own accent rather than channelling Phil Lynott.

Pat has a point; I much prefer it when Jarvis sounds like Jarvis, rather than trying to sound like a drug-addicted partner of gameshow host Leslie Crowther’s daughter.

Hey Dirk! Dirk! DIRK! Fancy suggesting something mate?

Two famous song titles are more or less quoted in the lyrics of ‘Tubthumping’ – the first one being ‘Danny Boy’, which, as we all know, is the Anthem of Northern Ireland. And what is the finest thing Northern Ireland ever produced, apart from ships (minus the Titanic. Obviously)?

Oh blimey, there’s a can of worms opened…

It’s of course:

The Undertones – Teenage Kicks

Phew!

…which could well be the link here. (It isn’t.)

Alas it’s not [I know] (although, Jez, nevertheless this should be a good excuse to include said tune in your essay straightaway), because, as I said, another song is being mentioned and that is ‘Don’t Cry For Me Argentina’. Yes, I have noticed that Chumbawamba omit the ‘Argentina’ – bit (and replace it by ‘next door neighbour’). But this is purely for copyright infringement reasons, I’m sure.

Now, ‘Don’t Cry For Me Argentina’ is a song done by Julie Covington back in 1976. But only (freaks like) you and me know this. And Wikipedia. To the wider public another version is much better known, and that’s the one by Madonna from 1997.

So the link, no question about that, is, to my great dismay (because I would have LOVED to see my other option), Madonna’s version of ‘Don’t Cry For Me Argentina’.

I mean, love ya for trying and all that, but it isn’t the link, and frankly Covington’s version pisses all over Madonna’s attempt, so Dirk: you shall (metaphorically) go to the (metaphorical) ball!

Julie Covington – Don’t Cry For Me Argentina

I always thought that ended rather abruptly, like the whole orchestra had spotted that David Essex had the microphone again, and downed tools to wrestle it from his sweaty palms.

Last one, now (sort of), for inspired by Dirk’s moving words, Walter has something else to offer:

…as Dirk said ‘Danny Boy is is the North Irish anthem and House of Pain celebrated the Irish style on their first album. Therefore I suggest:

House of Pain – Jump Around

(We may have to explain the difference between Northern and Southern Ireland to our overseas friends one day. But not today.)

I say sort of, because of course I have something else to offer.

Dirk also mentions Danny Boy, and you’ll recall that, several hours ago when you first started reading this, Rol mentioned the film Brassed Off and The Grimethorpe Colliery Band.

Which, just to make this all nice and circular (you know, like I know what I’m doing) makes right here a pretty good point to jump off:

The Grimethorpe Colliery Band – Danny Boy

Brassed Off was on Film 4 the other night. It remains a thing of beauty. If you haven’t seen it, or even if you have, and have a couple of hours to kill (which, I think I’m safe in saying we all do at the moment) then you could do a lot worse than spend them watching this: it’s up to stream on the C4 app All4.

And that leaves just one thing: the unveiling of the next link in The Chain, and trust me, had anybody got this I would have been suspicious.

Here’s the official link from Tubthumping to the next record:

[Tubthumping] was once sung by Homer Simpson of cartoon fame. He also sang:

Donovan – Mellow Yellow

Your suggestions then, please, along with your explanation of how your suggestion links to Mellow Yellow by Donovan, via the Comments section below or, if you must, by email to dubioustaste26@gmail.com.

Minus points to anyone who suggests Coldplay. You’ve been warned.

More soon.

50 Ways To Prove I’m Rubbish #29

In a rare example of me being ahead of the curve, I’d not only heard of but had seen Manic Street Preachers a good while before they got anywhere near being famous.

For they had played as a support act at a gig we put on at the Students’ Union.

This was in the year before I became Social Secretary, and so I had nothing to do with them being booked.

And I can’t pretend I was in slightest bit enamoured with them when they did play; I can’t put my finger on quite how I came to this opinion, but I was pretty sure that at least 50% of the four-piece band were miming.

A few months later, when I had taken up my elected post, I was told that we had the chance to book them again.

“Absolutely not”, I said. “They were awful last time they played here, and I can’t see them having got any better.”

Oh, how wrong can a man be.

The Entertainments Manager, who had the final say over who got booked and who did not, decided – rightly, wisely – to ignore my input.

And so, the Friday night they were booked to headline (I say headline, obviously my indie disco was the main draw) rolled around, and as the crew set up, I was charged with looking after the talent, and on this occasion this meant taking them to the college refectory for some food.

We queued with the rest of the students, the band fitting in pretty well to be fair, and then we sat, the four of them with their bordering-on inedable meals in front of them.

Richey noticed I didn’t have any food. “Why aren’t you eating?” he asked.

“Budget doesn’t extend to me, just you chaps,” I replied.

“Have you eaten today?” (I was a lot thinner then than I am these days, or he probably wouldn’t have asked.)

“No, I’ll get a bag of chips on the way home.”

He pushed his plate into the middle of the table.

“Here, have some of mine”, he said, and so it was that I shared a cheese salad with Richey Manic. (Sharing a Cheese Salad with Richey Manic so nearly ended up being the name of this blog.)

This in no way colours my reappraisel of them when they played that night, but everything clicked and fell into place, I suddenly got them. And if they had been miming the first time, they definitely weren’t miming now.

In the years after, when I was working in retail in Cardiff, I sold Nicky Wire the entire Echo & The Bunnymen back-catalogue, and James Dean Bradfield some athlete’s foot powder (in different shops, of course).

But I never again crossed paths with Richey, who went missing a few years later in 1995, never to be found again. He was pronounced “presumed dead” in 2008.

Motorcycle Emptiness remains their finest moment, but for my money this remains them at their most angry, visceral and magnificent. Lyrics all by Richey (I think!):

Manic Street Preachers – Motown Junk

More soon.

Late Night Stargazing

For my money, the bulk of great records the Manic Street Preachers have made come from the Richie Edwards years, and then for an album or three afterwards.

Like this one, the opening track from 1998’s This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours. OK, it’s not as great as Motorcycle Emptiness – very little is -but it’s not half bad:

Manic Street Preachers – The Everlasting

More soon.

Late Night Stargazing

Hello.

Yes, I’m back sooner than I thought I would be, too.

Not in bits, anymore. But slightly more prepared, determined and resolute than I was this time last week. Adjusted, I think is the word.

Thanks to those who privately sent kind messages of support. I haven’t replied (I will) but please don’t think they went un-noticed. They meant a lot.

Here’s one of the greatest records ever made.

Motorcycle Emptiness Front

Manic Street Preachers – Motorcycle Emptiness

More soon. Maybe even tomorrow.

Strings on Sunday

Bored of the “Acoustic Afternoons” series, I’ve continued in my search for decent topics for a series with an alliterative title.

Found one!

To kick this series off, an orchestral re-working of what was already an wonderful single.

The Stealth Sonic Orchestra is a pseudonym of dance act Apollo 440, which, when you consider their own output (which I have a bit of a soft-spot for, as it goes, for reasons which are about to become clear) includes a version of the Lost in Space theme tune, and a track which samples Status Quo, makes this remix even more incredible.

This came out as an extra track on one of the singles from Manic Street Preachers’ break-through album, “Everything Must Go”, and, in case I haven’t eulogised about it enough already, let me add breath-taking and beautiful to the list of adjectives:

1239104459-49db3bcbd6e5c

Manic Street Preachers – Motorcycle Emptiness (Stealth Sonic Orchestra Remix)

More soon.