Acoustic Afternoons

Back to the Acoustic Tent now, and a band who I imagine many would not expect to find performing here.

Motörhead.

If memory serves, this first surfaced in an advert for some beer or other; thankfully it got a commercial release shortly afterwards.

It’s surprisingly good, Lemmy’s grizzled voice really works accompanied by an acoustic guitar and a harmonica.

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Motörhead – Ace of Spades (Acoustic Version)

More soon.

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The Chain #27

Evening all.

Before we get going a disclaimer: if I seem a little distracted tonight, it’s because I’m trying to accomplish that task that so many (men) find difficult – multi-tasking. For tonight, whilst writing this, I am also watching Spurs in the Champions League. So, if my demeanour takes a turn for the worst towards the end, you’ll know why. (As you can see, I’m full of optimism….).

So, to business: last week I left you with “The House of the Rising Sun” by The Animals and asked for your suggestions for songs to link to it, and, as usual, you’ve not let me down with the standard of suggestion or level of link.

As is often the case, the majority of the suggestions fell into the same categories, and this time there were four

  1. Links to the names of members of the bands
  2. Links to the word “Animal(s)”
  3. Links to the word “House”
  4. Links to…erm…the oldest profession in the world.

There are a few others which we’ll sprinkle liberally throughout the post too.

  1. Band Members Names

Now, you’ll remember that the reason we’re looking at “The House of the Rising Sun” was because one of the members of the band was Chas Chandler, who went on to manage Jimi Hendrix, the subject of last week’s post, so it only seems right that we start with a Chas related record.

Also, there wasn’t that much in the way of cheese last week; this redresses that immediately.

Over to you, Charity Chic (who is going to be annoyed that I have already started one sentence with the word “So”):

“Let’s get the cheesy one out the way at the start – Chas ‘n’ Dave with Snooker Loopy”:

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The Matchroom Mob with Chas & Dave – Snooker Loopy

Next up, is George:

“John Steel of The Animals met Alan Price in Byker. Byker Grove was a TV programme that gave us Ant and Dec…but we’ve already had Ant and Dec….I’ll start again…”

And have a word with yourself while you’re at it, George.  It was PJ and Duncan we previously featured, and as we all know, they were completely different to Ant and Dec. One of them had been tragically blinded in a bizarre paintballing accident, for a start. (“Bizarre Paintballing Accident” sounds like a suggestion from a random “New Order/Half Man Half Biscuit/Elvis Costello” title generator, doesn’t it? Actually, thinking about it, that joke works just as well with the words “New Order” and “Elvis Costello” removed from it.)

Over to Alex G from We Will Have Salad for the next name related piece of fun:

“Alan Price was in The Animals, therefore… “£20 To Get In” by Shut Up And Dance.” 

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Shut Up and Dance – £20 to Get In

Time for my first suggestion of the week. Alan Price appeared in, and composed the music for, “O Lucky Man!”, a 1973 film directed by Lindsay Anderson. Five years earlier, Anderson released arguably his most iconic film, “if….” which is also the name of a famous poem by Rudyard Kipling, but is also the name of a single culminates in a glorious sing-a-long, probably my favourite song by The Bluetones,  who make their hat-trick appearance here on The Chain.

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The Bluetones – if…

Now, here’s George with his first proper suggestion:

“Chas Chandler: a chandler was the person in charge of candles and wax, and speaking of wax leads to The Three Johns song Teenage Nightingales To Wax.”

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The Three Johns – Teenage Nightingales To Wax

But before George returns with his second suggestion, here’s Dirk from Sexyloser:

“In fact, George, it should lead to Nightmares In Wax’ ‘Black Leather’ instead, bearing in mind that Pete Burns died only a few days ago.”

A fair point. I didn’t comment or mark Burns’ passing here at the time because, well, to be honest, I’m all dead pop-starred out for this year. Still, here he is:

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Nightmares In Wax – Black Leather

Back to George for his third suggestion, not to a band member, but to their manager:

“The manager of The Animals was Mickie Most. Mickie Most set up the RAK label, and Hot Chocolate were signed to that label. And the song is Emma. Which is a fine, fine pop song.”

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Hot Chocolate – Emma

Last one for our linking band members names, and here’s The Beard:

“Alan Price had success after leaving The Animals with Simon Smith and The Amazing Dancing Bear which was also covered by The Muppets on their debut album.”

It was, and I very nearly posted their version (it’s by Scooter, which would have led to a lot of very disappointed fans of the German dance band accidentally stumbling across this place), but the Muppets will be making an appearance later, so we’ll pass on that.

Besides, I don’t think that’s the record our Bearded Buddy was looking to nominate, as he continues:

“Animal was, of course, the drum bashing Muppet. A similar sounding drummer is Philthy Animal Taylor from Motörhead. Their single No Class is in fact pure class.

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Motorhead – No Class

Which leads us rather nicely onto the next category, but before we go there: we’ve all seen over the years boy bands exploit their innocent fan base by releasing a single which featured a different member of the band on the cover? Well, who knew that such acts weren’t just restricted to the teen market….?:

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Time to sprinkle a little uncategorisable magic dust. And some more shameless nicking of ideas.

I’ll let The Great Gog, who suggested it, take over:

“The Animals also recorded We Gotta Get Out Of This Place, which was covered by (lovable?) 90s Scousers, Space. A couple of decades earlier, a French band of the same name came to our attention with the then futuristic-sounding Magic Fly.”

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Space – Magic Fly

Take a look at that sleeve. Remind you of anyone? Seems a little bit daft, a little bit punk to me. And there was me thinking Daft Punk were ground-breaking, and it turns out they’re just rehashing ideas from their fellow countrymen from the 1970s. Luckily, very few of the UK’s current pop stars follow suit, or most of them would be in prison. Maybe that should be unluckily…

By the way, that suggestion continues a trend which I’ve encountered a couple of times since I started hosting The Chain, and which Alyson identified following my Halloween night post, a condition known as “Oh so that’s what that record’s called”. (see also “House of the King” by Focus and another one that I’ve forgotten already.)

Speaking of Focus, that hasn’t been an issue for me so far, it’s 0-0 at half time, in case you’re interested.

Last one before we start looking at the sings in the Animal(s) category, and here’s The Robster from Is This The Life?:

“Japan is known as the Land of the Rising Sun. Melt-Banana is a Japanese band who have quite a few songs that mention animals. They once released a compilation called 13 Hedgehogs which included tracks called Iguana In Trouble, Turtle vs. Bunny (Who One?) and Pig To Dog. But I’m going for the fabulously-titled Bird-Like Monkey in Cave, Singing in Drops, basically because it’s the only one of the above that breaches the 2-minute mark. (There’s also Bird-Like Monky Part 2 on the same album if you prefer – it’s just seven seconds long and for that reason might be a little more bearable for those with tender ears…)”

Regular readers will know I love Japanese bands like Shonen Knife and Puffy AmiYumi, who have a knack of stumbling across the odd cracking tune every now and then. So when The Robster suggested this lot, who I’d never heard of before, I was positively moist with anticipation:

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Melt-Banana – Bird-Like Monkey In Cave, Singing In Drops

No offence, Rob, but that reminds me of this:

Let’s move on to some Animal based fun. Not that kind of fun. Purely aural fun. Not that kind of aural fun either, you mucky lot.

    2. Animals

You’ll remember that last week I had to disqualify one suggestion because, well, as far as I could establish, it was wrong. I was disappointed, as the link led to one of my favourite cover versions. I’m delighted to report that Swiss Adam from Bagging Area has taken up the challenge:

“The Animals are named after our four legged friends. On the cover of The Rockingbirds’ ‘Gradually Learning’ 12″ single the guitarist (who also plays with Edwyn Collins) is riding a horse (which is of course an animal). The Rockingbirds covered Right Said Fred’s Deeply Dippy….”

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The Rockingbirds – Deeply Dippy

“…which,” Swiss continues, “features several references to Spain in its lyrics. Spain is partly famous for its horses, as Roddy Frame noted.”

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Aztec Camera – Spanish Horses

Next, a very, very warm welcome back to Badger from When You Can’t Remember Anything, now able to type and submit his own suggestions again, and boy does he make up for lost time:

“I have three suggestions, but you don’t need to pick all three.”

Need? No. Gonna? Yes.

“Animal was the drummer in the muppets, and it was also a track from on ‘Paradise Don’t Come Cheap’ by gravel voiced hip hoppers New Kingdom. So we could have that.”

Yes, we could.

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New Kingdom – Animal

“Or, ‘Animal Nitrate’ was a poor attempt at clever wordplay by Suede but a very fine single never the less. So that…”

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Suede – Animal Nitrate

“…or finally, and perhaps best of all, another word for a bunch of animals could be Animal Collective and therefore we probably need to hear ‘Brother Sport’ by them.”

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Animal Collective – Brother Sport

And just as I finish posting my fellow Spurs’ fan Badger’s entries, we go 0-1 down. Ho hum.

Time for the return of The Robster:

“The mentions of Animal the muppet reminds me that the Muppets appeared in the video for Weezer’s ‘Keep Fishin’” in which Miss Piggy kidnaps Pat, Weezer’s drummer, and Animal has to fill in.”

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Weezer – Keep Fishin’

I can’t really let the chance to post a Weezer’s videos slide, especially when it features the Muppets:

Which leads me on to my next choice. There’s plenty of songs called “Animal”. I have deliberately picked one of the worst.

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Def Leppard – Animal

That’s enough Animal based shenanigans. To category 3!

      3. House

Plenty of these, and I am now taking no notice of the television, treating it like you do the nutter on the bus, or any one you don’t know on the Tube: ignore it, maybe it’ll go away.

Here’s SWC from When You Can’t Remember Anything to kick things off:

“I’m going to down the house route. Just saying. Not sure in which direction that will take me yet. Probably ‘Rock Da House’ by who ever did that. Or ‘The Jack that House Built’”. Perhaps.”

Since I’m trying to distract myself from the football (I can’t just turn it off, obviously), you can have both whilst you think about it:

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The Beatmasters feat The Cookie Crew – Rok Da House

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Jack ‘N’ Chill – The Jack That House Built

Which must mean it’s my turn again. This, a song I have posted before, a long time ago, is one of the finest, most often-forgotten singles from the early 1980s:

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Big Sound Authority – This House

Seems there weren’t as many of these as I thought, for here’s SWC again, although he does have two for us:

“My suggestion based on…an hour rifling through old copies of ‘Deep Heat’ is ‘Hip House’ by DJ Fast Eddie…”:

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DJ Fast Eddie – Hip House

“…If you can’t find that then probably House of Jealous Lovers by The Rapture.”

More than happy to post that, one of the grooviest indie records to come out in the last…Jesus, was this thirteen years ago????

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The Rapture – House of Jealous Lovers

So more sprinkles. Here’s Alyson from What’s It All About, Alfie?:

“Eric Burdon always looked grumpy whenever I saw him perform or in photographs. Decided it was maybe because he was also moonlighting as an ironmonger (the jackets in the HOTSR cover are just like those worn in our local shop when I was a youngster). Whenever your dad asked them for anything in the shop it was never on a shelf and they always had to go upstairs to the storeroom for it. Led me to thinking of Upstairs at Eric’s by Yazoo and I think my favourite from that album was Don’t Go.”

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Yazoo – Don’t Go

For our American readers, that’s Yazz to you, which must have been very confusing when the other Yazz and her Plastic Population appeared a few years later.

Hold up, The Robster’s back, and he’s only going to suggest something else by Melt-Banana….:

“I’ve reassessed my choice of Melt-Banana track and thought maybe we should have something that vaguely resembles a song. Which led me to another compilation the band released called Return Of 13 Hedgehogs. It contained their cover of Toots & The Maytals’ ‘Monkey Man’. Certainly a mite more tuneful than ‘Bird-Like Monkey…’”

Remember earlier when I said I liked Shonen Knife and Puffy AmiYumi, who have a knack of stumbling across the odd cracking tune every now and then? Well it turns out that Melt-Banana do too, it’s just they’ve stumbled over one that isn’t one of their own:

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Melt-Banana – Monkey Man

And on to the fourth and final category:

     4. The Oldest Profession in the World

You don’t need me to explain what that means, do you? You do? Erm, can you have a bash Charity Chic?

“The House of the Rising Sun was a place of ill repute. I’m told that such establishments are also known as brothels or bordellos.  So ‘Start Wearing Purple’ by Gogol Bordello please!”

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Gogol Bordello – Start Wearing Purple

It’s funny how the menfolk who make suggestions here tend to feign ignorance when it comes to “being told” what kind of house is being described in The House of the Rising Sun. Take Dirk for example:

“Alright, apparently [see? – Ed] said house in the song really seems to be a brothel, a bagnio, a bordello, or, if you’d rather, a whorehouse. And this reminds me of Wreckless Eric’s ‘Semaphore Signals’. “Why’s this?”, you might be asking yourself – and quite rightly so! The truth of the matter is that for years and years I misheard the lyrics of ‘Semaphore Signals’ a little bit (blame it on my poor English, but hey – could you Englanders sing along to all of Tocotronic’s fantastic debut album? Nah, I bet your German is not good enough, right? I can though!). Either way, it was an embarrassing moment when I finally found out, albeit 15 years or so too late, that Eric says in the chorus “Messages of love down to her house” and not “Messages of love from the whorehouse”.

Still, he should have done. Perhaps. ‘Cos, whenever the tune comes up in the car when I’m on me way to work in the morning these days, I have a picture in my brain of half naked hookers waving little flags … and it always brings a stupid grin to my face!

P.S.: the Peel-Session version is marginally better than the album version.”

Mental note to self: stay off of the autobahn in the morning.

Here’s the Peel Session version, complete with a sleeve where Wreckless Eric’s name has inexplicably been mis-spelt (it’s entirely possible it’s a different Wreckless Erik, but there’s can’t be two, can there?):

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Wreckless Eric – Semaphore Signals (Peel Session)

Guys, guys…just because you know what a brothel is, it doesn’t mean you’ve been to one. Have a bit more pride on your knowledge.

Take kuttowski AKA Walter from A Few Good Times In My Life, for example, back for a second week and he’s not messing about:

“The fact that in this house the oldest profession was practiced it leads me to two songs about prostitution.” There. He’s said it. “First was Blondie’s X-Offender where she first played with her sexual attitude in front of the band.”

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Blondie – X Offender

What’s the other one, kottowski/Walter?

“The other one is ‘Killer Queen’ by Queen. Mercury made no bones about the song’s meaning, explaining, ‘It’s about a high class call girl. I’m trying to say that classy people can be whores as well. That’s what the song is about, though I’d prefer people to put their interpretation on it’.”

We don’t really need to bother, now you’ve told us, do we Freddie?

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Queen – Killer Queen

Time that we heard from Rol of My Top Ten fame:

“Sticking with the brothel theme, I have two suggestions this week. (Both taken from My Top Ten Prostitute Songs, sorry.)

Elvis Costello – Love For Sale (or the Nina Simone version, if you prefer). Cole Porter rules.”

Now. I have looked everywhere for a copy of Nina Simone performing “Love for Sale”. I can’t find it, or any reference it. But rather than disqualifying a suggestion for the second week running, and in the unlikely event that you may have just got them mixed up somehow, you can have Billie Holliday’s version instead:

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Billie Holiday – Love For Sale

PS – Rol, if you can point me in the direction of Nina’s version, I’d love to hear it!

Luckily, there can be no confusion about who his next suggestion is by:

“Flight of the Conchords – You Don’t Have To Be A Prostitute (Sting has a lot to answer for.)”

There’s a further Muppet link here, too of course: Bret McKenzie won an the Best Original Song Oscar for “Man or Muppet” from their (the Muppets, not the Flights) 2011 comeback move.

Anyway, taken from, shall we say, their difficult second album, which in my opinion is patchy at best (the first album is essential listening), this is one of the better tracks:

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Flight of the Conchords – You Don’t Have To Be A Prostitute

Which just about wraps it up for the prostitution related songs, except, well just in case you don’t get the Sting reference, I found this when I was trying to track down the Nina Simone version of Love for Sale:

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Idina Menzel – Love For Sale/Roxanne

Now, I have no idea who Idina Menzel is, or rather I didn’t until I decided to add her to this post. She’s an actress, best know for appearing in “Glee” and more recently for being Queen Elsa in “Frozen” which apparently means it is her that sings that “Let it Go” song which seems to get referenced everywhere these days, but which I’ve never heard, nor do I ever want to, thanks very much.

Anyway, the reason I’ve included her version is for the audience reaction, which at the start of “Love for Sale”, a Cole Porter composition, is absolutely nothing, before a smattering of applause and whooping (it’s recorded in America) welcomes the second line of “Roxanne”, like the crowd have been stirred from their slumber by something they kinda recognise.

Oh, wait. I have one more song from this theme. As regular readers know, I love this band, particularly their early stuff, and this is a song which is right up there amongst my favourite ever tunes by them. Wikipedia says the song “concerns a young man’s encounter with a prostitute”, which explains why they called it “Mystery Song”. Although “Song Concerning a Young Man’s Encounter with a Prostitute” would have been a great title too, should Colorblind James Experience ever decide to cover it.

Anyway, put simply, this rocks, it rocks more than anything else on this page. So there.

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Status Quo – Mystery Song

Incidentally, there’s a vaguely amusing story behind that song. That came out in 1976, when the band were at the height of their fame, and also well on the road to the drug addiction which made lead singer Francis Rossi’s septum fall out. When they were in the studio working on their “Blue For You” album, Rossi laced Rick Parfitt’s cup of tea with “an inordinate amount” of speed, not expecting him to drink it. You can work out how the rest of the story goes: he drank the lot, oblivious to the contents, began playing this riff and continued to do so until the rest of them left the studio, leaving him in there all night. On their return the following day, he was still sitting in the same place, playing the same riff, some twelve hours later. “I just couldn’t go wrong,” Parfitt recalls, “everywhere my fingers went on the fretboard it sounded fantastic.” Drugs, see kids. Don’t do them. Especially speed. Anyone who has read my article about what happened at Glastonbury the year I found a bag of the stuff will know I know exactly what I’m talking about.

Okay we’re on the home straight now, just some more sprinkles of magic dust to go, and to start off this final section, can we all give a very warm Chain Gang welcome to Rigid Digit from Stuff & Nonsense (and anyone with a picture of Rigsby as their avatar is alright by me):

“Approaching his 50th Birthday, John Otway asked his fans for a second hit single to follow 1977s “Really Free”. The chosen track – Bunsen Burner – nicked the music from Disco Inferno, and Otway fashioned a lyric after helping with his daughters chemistry homework. The link to House Of The Rising Sun? HOTRS was the B-Side (or second track on CD single) – the track featured 900 fans (all credited on the record sleeve) in a glorious ‘call and response'”

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John Otway – Bunsen Burner

And since Rigid mentioned B-Sides, here’s The Swede from Unthough of, though, somehow with something which is as far removed from Otway as one could get:

“The b-side of ‘The House of the Rising Sun’ was a cover of ‘Talkin’ ’bout You’. I’d like to suggest the Ray Charles original.”

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Ray Charles – Talkin’ ‘Bout You

Here’s The Beard, back for a second stab:

“Can I have another go, please? Ta. Be warned, this one is more than a little convoluted…”

Excellent. The Beard’s links are becoming my favourite links here each week, if not for the songs, then the reason he gives. As close to Comment Showboating as anyone has managed this week (apart from my quite brilliant even if I do say so myself link to The Bluetones). Time for the rest of you to up your game, I think.

“The Rising Sun is a pub on Beverley Road in Hull. Grafton Street is a thoroughfare, one end of which comes out on Beverley Road. Down Grafton Street is The Grafton, the pub where the video for Happy Hour by The Housemartins was filmed. Phill Jupitus appears in the video. He was also a captain on Never Mind the Buzzcocks. Howard Devoto left Buzzcocks to form Magazine. A Song From Under The Floorboards by Magazine is fanruddytastic.”

Ain’t that the truth:

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Magazine – A Song From Under The Floorboards

And that would be that, had The Beard’s suggestion not prompted a couple of further ideas from Rol, which I’ll allow, as they’re the next step on a couple of references The Beard makes. Plus, Rol is as brief as brief can be (although, just to be contrary, I’m posting them in the different order to suggested, just because his first suggestion sounds more like an end of the show track than his second to me):

“1.”

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The National – The Geese Of Beverly Road

and

“2.”

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The Beautiful South – The Rising Up of Grafton Street

Which means all that’s left is to reveal the next song in the official Chain, and the reason behind it, and see if we all go “Well, mine was better than that….” as we do most weeks:

So: here’s the reason:

“…The House of the Rising Sun was in New Orleans. And Dr John comes from New Orleans, therefore…”

…this is the song:

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27. Dr. John – Such A Night

Well, mine were way…oh, okay fair enough.

So folks, let me have your suggestions of songs which link to Such a Night by Dr John via the Comments page below, along with a description of how you have linked from one t’other.

See you next week, if not before.

More soon.

I Coulda Tooken

I think I’d better start off this post by declaring that I am not drunk. Whether that is still the case by the time I finish it is questionable.

The reason I feel the need to declare this is because I’m probably going to end up writing some things which are likely to come across as the kind of slurry “You’re my best mate, you are” things you’d only really expect someone four or five sheets to the wind to say.

There you go, that’s the disclaimer out of the way.

You may have noticed recently there has been a lot of Birthday talk on these here pages. A lot of people I know seem to have birthdays around September and October, and I suppose if you think about it logically, at the time of year when we were all conceived it would have been the winter months, dark and cold, and perhaps our parents were huddling together under what used to be called a Continental Quilt when…well, you know…one thing led to another and here we are. (Note to self: I may need to rewrite that bit, it sounds like all my friends’ parents were under the same duvet, which they weren’t, obviously)

Anyway, the thing about birthdays is that on at least one of yours, or perhaps on another totally inappropriate moment – on the school bus, say – you will find yourself suddenly considering the most awful of truths: your parents did “it”.

My brother and I are lucky in that respect. I should explain. My parents got married on 22nd October 1966. My brother was born on 29th July 1967 – near enough nine months to the day after the honeymoon, which I think it’s safe to assume went well. (This has also just reminded me I forgot to remind my Dad about their anniversary, my traditional job. Ooops!)

Similarly, I was born on 26th September 1969, almost nine months to the day after Christmas Day, so it’s safe to say the petrol station was closed, or my Dad just forgot to get my Mum a Christmas present, and had to make it up to her in…er…different ways.

So there we have it. They only did “it” twice. Ever.

I’m not really sure why I’m mentioning all of this, except as a preamble into wishing my former housemate and equal best mate Hel a happy birthday, in something approaching a creative way.

A couple of weeks ago, we were out having a few drinks and Hel pointed out that we had been friends for 16 years. Jesus, really? (You’re expecting an “it seems longer” gag here, right? Well jog on, you’re not going to get it. Because it really doesn’t seem that long. And of course by referencing said joke, I have managed to make it, whist simultaneously denouncing it. Oh yes! I am finally revealing myself to be the very epitome of a hitherto concealed post-modern self-deconstructing blogger!)

Anyway, it seems just weeks since we first met, upstairs in what was The Tut ‘n’ Shive on City Road in Cardiff (although she will probably tell me I’m wrong and we met much earlier than that). She was with her brother Llyr, also mentioned often in these pages, who would soon become my flatmate, but more of him another time.

Hel was wearing a Motorhead t-shirt, which I thought was pretty cool. This was before band t-shirts such as this became fashion accessories worn by needy people who had no clue about any record ever made by the bands whose logos graced their t-shirts  (see also Ramones).

As an aside, I have two band t-shirt stories to tell.

Firstly I was at a house party once, and there was a guy there wearing one of these:

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You and I know this is a Primal Scream “Screamadelica” t-shirt. But the guy wearing it? No-siree-bob.

“Nice tee shirt” I called across the room to him.

“Thank you” he beamed in response.

“Great album too!” I suggested.

“It is an album?” he replied, genuinely confused. “I just liked the picture!”

Hmmmm…..

Second, I was wearing a PJ Harvey tee shirt at work once, one promoting “50 Foot Queenie” from her “Rid of Me” album. It looked like this:

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I was wearing it ironically, since it has the words “Hey I’m One Big Queenie” emblazoned on it.

Certain folks in my office had never seen the likes. A very attractive girl approached me at the photocopiers.

Her: “I like your tee shirt”

Me: (nonchalantly) “Oh, thanks”

Her: “Who’s the picture of?”

Me: (disinterestedly) “PJ Harvey”

Her: “Who’s that?”

Me: “A really cool singer/songwriter. You’d like her.”

Her: “Oh? What does she sing? What do you recommend?”

My brain: “Sorry mate, I got nothing. I mean, I could have a rummage round some of these boxes of the usual shit you’ve got stored up here and try and dig out some of her songs so you don’t look like a dick, but I don’t think I can be arsed right now.”

Me: “Um….er….ahhh…hahaha…would you believe it…my mind has gone totally blank…..”

Tune in soon for the next instalment of “I am rubbish at talking to girls”

But anyway, I digress.

I asked Hel what her favourite Motorhead record was. Her reply: “It’s actually a thing they did with Girlschool…”

I looked at her in some amazement.

“Please Don’t Touch?” I said.

“Yes!!” she replied, mouth and eyes agog that someone else knew that record.

This one:

motorhead-and-girlschool-please-dont-touch-bronze Motorhead & Girlschool – Please Don’t Touch

And yes, I know I’ve posted that before.

We got talking and somehow got onto the topic of Smash Hits magazine. The more astute of you will have spotted the more-than-occasional homage to their way of writing around these parts. We enquired about each others favourite fact gleaned from those glossy pages. Number one on both of our lists was: “Mark King of Level 42 has insured his thumb for a million pounds!!” Truly I had found a kindred spirit. A Liverpool fan, but you can’t have everything, right?

If further proof were needed, we both love this record, the UK’s Eurovision entry the year after Bucks Fizz:

One_step_further_bucks_fizz Bardo – One Step Further

If I had a pound for every time we had drunkenly attempted to do the dance routine I’d be a very rich man by now.

We’ve spent many a happy night ratted together, me and Hel. There was the time we stayed up all night pissed, and I sent her out to buy another bottle of vodka at 9am, after which we decided it would be a really good idea to watch Jimmy McGovern’s death drama “Hillsborough” (the clue’s in the title as to how happy it’s going to be), spending the next few hours hugging each other and bawling our eyes out.

And then there was the time of the great argument about radishes.

Suffice it to say that on many of the stories I will tell over the forthcoming posts, Hel has been at my side, my wing-girl, a reciprocal deal, I hope. There’s so many stories I could, and probably will, tell you about times we’ve spent together, things we’ve done. For now, I’ll just give you a couple.

Firstly, as a measure of the woman, when I first was moving to London 7 years ago, I gave her a ring to see if she knew of anywhere I could find some digs.

“There’s a spare room in my place,” she said.

“Really? Great! Can I have it….?”

“It depends. Have you got the following things: 1) a DVD player 2) a pepper grinder, and 3) friends who are male models?”

I had the first two, but not the third.

“Meh. We can work on that. Move in when you like”.

And on the day I moved in, instead of unpacking and then letting me get an early night before my first day in a new job, she proceeded to take me on a tour of all the local pubs and get me proper hammered.

More recently, we’ve started DJ’ing together. Usually when you DJ with someone, you have an agreed spell “solo” on the decks, say half an hour on, half an hour off, but I have a need to know what’s coming next, in being prepared and lining the next one up (reasons will become clear in subsequent posts, and yes, those that know it, I am going to tell that story eventually), and she totally buys into this. As a result, Hel and I seem to have such a blast DJ’ing together we spend the whole night conferring about a running order, concurring about what the next record will be, and then the next and the next, with an implicit agreement that if you suggested the next record up, you mix it in. It’s a truly democratic process.

Our most prestigious gig was about a year ago, a private function in London’s swanky Groucho Club (we’ve never been invited back, but we were invited to “turn it down please” on the night.)

Beforehand, Hel had told me she was desperate to play Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off”. I wasn’t particularly happy, but had decided I could counter it by deciding what to play either side. The next three records were the sequenced result:

Dance%20Apocalyptic%20Concept%20Art%20-%20Credit%20SAM%20SPRATT Janelle Monae – Dance Apocalyptic

Krista-2_28-2 Taylor Swift – Shake it Off

Britney_Spears_Toxic Britney Spears – Toxic

(What actually happened was as we walked to the venue, I told Hel I had thought of a record that would fit perfectly after Taylor Swift. “Is it Britney?” she asked. Damn you!!!)

(The place went batshit crazy when we dropped the Janelle Monae track, but we’ve never actually agreed which of us thought to play it. But I mixed it in, so……)

Some time earlier, we had played a friend’s wedding (truly any occasion, bar mitzvahs etc etc) and Hel taught me a valuable lesson: in certain circumstances, it is perfectly acceptable to play this:

whitneydance Whitney Houston – I Wanna Dance With Somebody

There’s loads more records I could play now which make me think of her, one of which she would fucking kill me if I posted, but for now, that’s me and Hel.

Oh, and then there’s this:

R-826535-1190720197_jpeg Almighty Allstars – Star Wars

Can’t think why that reminds me of Hel….did I mention she used to work for Almighty Records…? And recorded the odd vocal…? No….? Silly me….

Happy Birthday, hope you have a great one.  Love ya loads.

Here’s an appropriate one:

R-1574277-1274915614_jpeg The Velvet Underground – She’s My Best Friend

(Count yourself lucky I didn’t post The Wedding Present version)

PS: OK, now I’m drunk.

Glastonbury, So Much to Answer For (Part 4a)

Glastonbury2015lineupposterguests750

Okay okay, I’ve been back for almost two weeks, I know, I know!

I had intended to carry on the Glasto posts in order, culminating in a review of this years shenanigans, but since the over-riding theme of the last three posts seems to be “I got off my face,I don’t remember anything”, I figured we’d pop the outstanding two in the back pocket for next year, and I’d tell you about this year instead. And then we can get back to something approaching normality round here. Deal?

There’s a second reason for this: 2015 was my first drug-free (except alcohol and nicotine) Glastonbury. Drink those words in. I did a whole Glastonbury without dabbling in any of the off menu items. Fuck you and your preordained reactionary opinions, Daily Mail readers!

Which means – I can remember what I did!! This is breaking new ground for this blog – knowing what I’m talking about. As a result, I have quite a lot to tell you, clips and mp3s to share, so I’ll split this into three posts: (up to) Friday, Saturday and Sunday. That’s the correct order, right?

Glastonbury opens its gates at 8.30 am (I think…shit, I’m already on shaky ground…) on the Wednesday morning before the festival officially starts.

Over the years that I’ve been going, and I make no claim to be a crusty dread-locked “been jumping over the fence for eons, mate” type, every year we’ve got there a little bit earlier. The last time I went was in 2010, and this involved a drive to the site early on the Wednesday morning, all rather leisurely, a country compilation CD blaring in the car, getting me in the mood, and no problems with finding a space to pitch our tents.

This year, we arrived on site at 01:30 hours on the Wednesday morning, to be greeted by the sight of an almighty queue, the prospect of joining it, and basically sleeping rough in a field for the night.

And so it was. We met up with the rest of the gang we were going in with – folks I’d never met before, but Llyr (Alun) had spent Glasto 2014 with, so I was happy to take his recommendation of camp-mates. Say what you like about him, but he can spot a wrong-un. And this lot quite swiftly showed that they were sound. A quick roll-call: hello Chad, Andy, Sam, Louise, Andrew, Cara, Dean, Lisa, Gemma and Emily. (Emily wasn’t with us yet – more of her in a bit). I think that’s everyone….kick me in the knees and call me a tool if I missed anyone.

Some of this motley crew were getting a few minutes much needed shut-eye in the van, while Llyr, Chad, Andy, Andrew and I stood outside, chatting. Every now again one of us would say “We may as well be standing in the queue as standing here, shall we make a move?”, to which the rest of us would shrug and agree we should maybe think about moving in a minute.

Ladies: this is why men should not rule the world. Rubbish decision makers.

Two hours later, we were still there, before finally we rallied the troops, got all our gear together and headed off to join the queue. By the time we met it, it was snaking down from Gate D, across and down one car park/field, back up the next, along the top and to us. Five minutes later, the length of the field we were in had been added to the ever-growing line.

And there we stood until around 6am, when suddenly we were on the move. They’ve realised, we thought, just how many have turned up and decided to let us in early. Otherwise, it’s a health and safety nightmare.

But no. We shuffled forwards about 100 yards before coming to rest again, and so the pattern was set for the next couple of hours.

Finally Gate D opened. By this time two things had happened: firstly, I had decided every one who wasn’t in our little party was an utterly irritating cunt, either too young and nubile (Pull your fucking jeans up so I can’t see your pants!!), or too old and fat (Just….stop being an annoying twat!!) to be safely allowed in my vicinity; and secondly, we had got to the part of the entrance which had been set up like a queue in the post office, a zig-zag affair, with a set of ropes guiding us in the correct directional flow.

Wait, ropes you say? The sort of ropes that can be ducked under? Well fuck queuing then, said the amassed throng (but quietly under their breath, more of a liberal murmer, a Guardian uprising, if you will) before launching headlong into an every man (and woman) for him (and her) self scrum for the gate.(I appear to have gone all “Life of Brian“….)

We made it in, through the throngs and to our pitch site. An hour or so later, we were all erect (insert Carry On “Oooh Matron!” Kenneth Williams type gag here).

Here’s the view from my tent…at 10.30am on the Wednesday

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Pretty full, isn’t it?

Tent up, I proceeded to try and grab 40 winks – a recurring theme throughout the weekend. I think drugless Glasto Me turns into Bagpuss. Anyway, I fell asleep, legs sticking out of my tent, the burns from which I’m still coping with.

When I came round, I found we had been joined by one other happy camper: Emily. Emily embodies braveness and technology to me. She had posted on Twitter that she was a single female, attending Glastonbury on her own, looking for some decent types to camp with, and Chad had replied, telling her she could join us. The poor girl must have been deluged by weird offers, but she chose Chad/us.

I can’t put into words how amazingly brave I think that is. I would never have a) thought to do it in the first place, and b) having received umpteen messages, made a sound choice about who to camp with. I probably would have given up on the whole human race and just lived in a ditch for the rest of my days.

There was no need to worry. Our new camp mates were an unbelievably sound bunch. The next few days were punctuated by a barbeque in the evening, and a cooked breakfast in the morning, all done in the clearing between our tents. I felt bad, having not brought any food to contribute to this British BBQ-Off (It’s only a matter of time before one of the main channels commissions it), but our hosts were having none of it, thrusting burger after bacon and egg sandwich after sausage in my face until I succumbed and ate something they had prepared. And damned fine it was too.

That night, after a barbecue and the first of oh-so-many samples of Andy’s home made vodka tipples (After Eight Vodka? He had it. And a salty caramel one. And a fruity one. The man is a vodka alchemist) we went for the first of many wanders, taking in the Park Field at sun-down:

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(Beautiful, ain’t it?) before ending up at the Stone Circle to witness what until now I had only heard about but never seen: the burning of a straw effigy (owl? Phoenix? life-size depiction of George Osborne? Who knows!) and a neat firework display. Glastonbury 2015 was on.

Friday morning. (Thursday was a day of mooching, drinking and eating). Things were due to kick off on The Other Stage with some Special Guests, supposedly a mystery….but then this got tweeted by Tim Burgess of The Charlatans :

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with a caption: “Guest Who?”. It may have escaped our attention, had it not been subsequently retweeted by the official Glastonbury Twitter feed with the added: “Tim Burgess is rubbish at keeping secrets”.

The Charlatans are one of those bands very dear to my heart, and this was to be the perfect Glasto opener – practically a Greatest Hits set from them. Sadly, much internet trawling (and…er…distraction…) has failed to find much in the way of sound or video clips of their rather wonderful set, other than this, someone’s hand-held footage of “One to Another”. Under grey skies, The Charlies got us all up and going, their set culminating in a typically wonderful “Sproston Green”. Don’t they get bored of ending with that every time, belter that it is?

Next up was me making the first of many bad decisions about who to see next. What I should have done was scuttle over to the Park Stage to see King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard (saw them at the Scala on Thursday, and I’m happy to report it was fucking mental!). Go see ’em, kids.

What I actually did was stay exactly where I was to watch The Cribs, in the vain hope that, having been a member of the band between 2008 – 2011, Johnny Marr might make an appearance, despite the obvious logistical issues involved with the fact he was playing in Hyde Park later that day. He didn’t but they did play We Share The Same Skies (punter audio again, I’m afraid, hence the appearance of what seems to be a wobble board, We definitely locked him up now, didn’t we?).

Next it was an upping of sticks to the Pyramid Stage to catch Alabama Shakes. Although with all the shenanigans with Foo Fighters having to pull out, a new act being added, and the consequent jigging about of schedules, we caught rather more of James Bay‘s set than I would have liked. Dull is too kind a word. I’d rather listen to the BBC Glastonbury i-dent music on repeat than sit through that schmozz again. Although I do appear to have just made up a new word: Schmozz pronoun, def: the sound of James Bay.

(On that note: can I just interject for a moment to apologise for some of the downloads featuring the BBC music sound-bite at the start? Most of them were ripped from their website, and to have edited them out…well,bear in mind it’s taken me 2 weeks to get this far, and you can imagine how long it would have been had I also attempted to lop that off the start of every clip too. Deal with it. Either edit them yourself or just cover your ears for 5 seconds)

And so to Alabama Shakes, who, greeted by the first rain of the weekend, provide us with a howling blues-centric set which, to my recollection, doesn’t feature Hold On, a tune I love to if not death, then certainly to a defibrillator and a resuscitation unit.

Next up, Mary J Blige. And more rain. Now I’m not a massive fan of either Mary J or the whole R&B sound as a whole, but blimey she was good. Here’s Doubt but I’d advise you to pop to the BBC Glastonbury website to see if they have her extraordinary performance of “No More Drama” there. I dunno if they do or not, I’m too busy typing to check.So dramatic was “No More Drama”, it seemed like an obvious show-stopper, I nipped to the Gents, and missed her doing Family Affair, the one song by her I truly adore. So, just for me, here it is. Probably with an annoying advert.

Now, Motorhead, and I am wet, and not in a sexy way. Warty leather clad octogenarians rarely have that sort of effect on me. Any more. Anyway, it’s Motorhead, what do you need to know about them? Here’s the one song we all know: Ace of Spades They do not usher on Girlschool to thrash through “Please Don’t Touch” and the world is a poorer place for it.

Next: baited breath. An unexpected extra act. Well, not extra, exactly, given the Grohl broken leg situation there was a massive hole to fill (and I don’t mean in Dave’s fibia). The Pyramid Stage DJ teases with us, playing Blur records and then Pulp’s “Common People” from 1995 (when they stood in for the damaged Stone Roses) before the additional band is revealed as….oh. It’s The Libertines. Are they still a thing?

I like four songs by The Libertines. They play three of them. Here’s one of them: Don’t Look Back Into The Sun NB I only like that as when I first heard it, the play-out sounded to me like the most obvious Wedding Present record that isn’t actually by The Wedding Present. It’s “Kennedy“, right? (Blatantly, I just want to listen to Kennedy). I hope Dave Gedge is getting royalties from it, s’all. (But not from me).

Somehow, we endured their whole set, before heading back to the tents to replenish booze supplies ready for our choice of headliner for the Friday.

What should have happened instead of The Libertines was Florence & The Machine, and then Foo Fighters. Whilst I’m obviously disappointed the Foos didn’t make an appearance, it did make my decision about who to watch as Friday night headliner slightly easier. When I saw the listing, I was gutted: Foos, Hot Chip, Super Furry Animals, and Billy Bragg all playing at the same was a real headache, a four-horse race unexpectedly narrowed down to three.

Of course, Super Furry Animals won. But as a panacea, here’s Billy Bragg & Frank Turner doing Levi Stubb’s Tears in the BBC tree-hut bit. Still gorgeous, after all these years. And Frank’s not looking too shoddy either.

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve seen SFA over the years; having lived in Cardiff for 20 years we’re definitely into the twenties, and amongst all of those I treasure the most recent at Brixton Acadamy as the greatest (2nd place goes to seeing them playing in Brecon, having been evicted from the Jazz festival for being linked to drugs, like no jazz performers ever have been) – so tonight was always going to be a tough one to overhaul that.

They don’t manage it, in my opinion, stuck right at the back and unable to really see them as I was. But that’s not to say they weren’t utterly amazing: a below-par SFA gig is still a gig I’d crawl naked over a trail of broken glass, upturned drawing pins and something else quite ouchy, to get to. And Llyr and I have a thing we do when Slow Life kicks backs in again, a pretend drum fill, and it’s the first chance we’ve had to do it together for almost 10 years, so that was pretty special for me.

Anyway, here’s their full set, and apologies for the sound quality on Slow Life, for Do or Die ending more abruptly than it’s meant to, and for the occasional BBC I-dent soundclip:

Slow Life

Rings Around The World

Do Or Die

Hello Sunshine

Pan Ddaw’r Wawr

Run Christian Run

Hometown Unicorn

Zoom!

Juxtapozed With U

The International Language of Screaming

Golden Retriever

Recepticle for the Respectable (And a big shout out to Bob on the trumpet)

Mountain People

The Man Don’t Give A Fuck

And so ends Friday.

One final thing, as I bang on about live music: this weekend is the 30th anniversary of Live Aid. Fuck, that makes me feel old. Anyway, for a really nice piece on it, and some rather fine free downloads snaffled from the big day, pop over to Any Major Dude With Half A Heart. You won’t be disappointed.

Saturday 2015 to follow.