The Chain #48

I know I have often moaned in the past about how time-consuming it is to write The Chain, but this morning, at around 2am, having put off writing it every day this week, it suddenly occured to me that there are three reasons why it takes me so long:

1. You won’t be surprised to learn that I don’t own every record that gets suggested, so I have to track down a copy to post here. I quite enjoy this aspect, as it goes;

2. As I’m going through all of your suggestions, I put all the songs on a playlist so I can familiarise myself with them, and hopefully come up with either some decent jokes (I’ll let you be the judge of how succcesful I am with that) and/or some funny video clips to include in the post. This latter aspect, as I’m sure you can imagine, often leads me down a YouTube rabbithole. That said, I quite enjoy this aspect too;

3. For practically every song you suggest, I manage to think of at least one more to link to either the source record, or your suggestion. That’s not meant to sound like a boast, more a statement of fact: people who write music-based blogs tend to know quite a lot of records. I try to exert some kind of control over the amount of my own suggestions I include but sometimes I just can’t resist. I really like this aspect as well.

So next time I moan about what a pain it is to write The Chain, ignore me. Once I get going on it, I bloody love it.

As can be seen by the amount of suggestions I’ve made this time.

And that’s despite the source record being, in my opinion, one of the worst singles by – well, I’m not going to say the worst bands, not when Black Eyed Peas and Coldplay are both things – but certainly by a band that I don’t much care for.

In case you’ve forgotten, said source record this time around was this:

U2 – Beautiful Day

As usual, the suggestions can be split into categories, one for each word: ‘U2’, ‘Beautiful’ and ‘Day’, with a few tangents thrown in for good measure.

We’ll save the vitriol of links to U2 for later I think, so let’s start with a suggestion from PhonicPat:

“[Beautiful Day] is from their ‘All That You Can’t Leave Behind” album which leads nicely to…:”

Over to C from Sun Dried Sparrows to kick off all the nominations linked to the word ‘Day’ and complete the cleansing of the palate:

“I think ‘keeping it simple’ will be my mantra from now on, so… Beautiful Day takes me to beautiful Days. I’ve just been through your back pages and I couldn’t see Kirsty MacColl’s sublime cover version appearing here before, so can we have that one please?”

But of course!

Kirsty MacColl – Days

Next up is a clutch of suggestions/songs mentioned in passing – which you all know I can’t resist – from Kay. For those of you who don’t know, Kay is my manager at work, but also a friend. She, too, wants to keep things simple:

“I’m a simple soul [I’m saying nothing – Ed], so I immediately started thinking of songs about a particular day of the week. First thought was…”:

New Order – Blue Monday

“…then remembered [Look out, folks, she’s off. Experience tells me to get comfy and look like you’re paying attention – Ed] Foals had a song called Sunday, and I thought I would choose that, so you’d have to post it (much to your disgust)…”

Foals – Sunday

Allow me to explain that “much to your disgust” comment: I’m not a Foals fan. I don’t dislike them either, to be honest. I just find them a bit “meh”. I don’t understand why anyone would want to pay money to go and see them, unless they need to pick up a new Yasser Arafat-type scarf from the merchandise stall, that is.

Anyway, carry on.

“…but then thought neither a Monday or a Sunday is a beautiful day. So I’m going for…”

The Cure – Friday I’m In Love

“…as Fridays are really quite beautiful.”

I’m not sure if this has any bearing, but before we all had to work from home, Friday would be the day when someone was most likely to bring cakes into the office.

In the spirit of full disclosure, Kay’s email to me with her suggestions began like this:

“Here’s my suggestion…(it’s a bit basic, so doubt I’ll win the Showboating prize)…I have an alternative (that could be a Worst Record of the Week Award contender)…”

You know me, dear reader. I was intrigued and pressed Kay as to what that might be.

This:

Whigfield – Saturday Night

No, I don’t understand that record sleeve either.

I’m not going to give you the satisfaction of being the recipient of the Worst Record of the Week Award.

Now get back to work, all those complaints about me aren’t going to answer themselves, you know.

Over to Martin from New Amusements next:

“There’s already been mention of Kirsty’s sublime cover but what of The Kinks’ original version of Days?”

I wouldn’t normally do this kind of thing, but oh, go on then:

The Kinks – Days

Martin will be back shortly, but in the meantime previously thought Missing in Action Chain Ganger George is back! Back! BACK!:

“From the song Beautiful Day to Darren Van Day of Dollar (don’t worry, it’ll get better)…. “

Too late! You’ve mentioned them now!

Dollar – Hand Held in Black and White

Sorry. As you were.

“…to Working For The Yankee Dollar (Skids)”

Skids – Working For The Yankee Dollar

Well, he says, blowing some dust off the box marked “Catchphrases”, if you’re having having that, then I’m having this:

The Men They Couldn’t Hang – Greenback Dollar

“Also,” Martin pipes up again, “a beautiful day might even qualify as a Perfect Day, by Lou Reed?”

Don’t mind if I do:

Lou Reed – Perfect Day

Time for a clip, and I imagine most of you will know that popular comic creations Lou & Andy from Little Britain…:

…are based on Lou Reed and Andy Warhol as played by David Walliams and Matt Lucas in an old Rock Profile sketch, reprised here on The Ralf Little Show (no, me neither):

Anyhoo. Kirsty MacColl also covered Perfect Day, with the Lemonheads’ Evan Dando, of course. But I’d be overdoing it if I posted that too, so we’ll save that for another…erm…day.

Instead, here’s Kirsty doing something which just begs to be played right after that:

Kirsty MacColl – The End Of A Perfect Day

And since we’re on the subject of perfect days, I was mightily suprised nobody came up with this:

PJ Harvey – A Perfect Day Elise

That’s all the ‘Day’ suggestions, and before we move let’s move on to the “Beautiful” links, a suggestion which covers both, and I’ll hand you over to The Robster from on/off/on-again/no-he’s-definitely-gone-this-time Is This The Life?

“Beautiful Day was used by ITV for their ill-fated coverage of The Premiership back in, erm, I don’t remember. Quite a few years ago. The song I always associate with football on TV is Life Of Riley by the Lightning Seeds which Match Of The Day used for its Goal Of The Month feature.”

The Lightning Seeds – The Life Of Riley

Ill-fated it certainly was, for two reasons: firstly, given an alternative, I don’t know anyone who would elect to watch football on ITV, and secondly, tactical analysis was provided by former professional footballer Andy Townsend, not from the comfort of a warm studio, but from what was know as The Tactics Truck, for no other reason, it seemed, than alliteration.

Whilst we’re on the subject of football, here’s PhonicPat with a couple of suggestions which I’ll allow, even though they link to The Robster’s suggestion more than to the source record:

“Late to the party this time around and some of my thoughts already reflected in the comments [but I haven’t got to them yet in this post, in case you were wondering – Ed]…More footy with…”:

“…and one more football song:”

Sorry, Pat. I can’t say I enjoyed that one. Worst Record of the Week, in my book.

Now we’ll move on to just plain Beautiful, words often used to describe Swiss Adam from Bagging Area, I’m sure:

“There are lots of songs that link to beautiful – Peaking Lights’ Beautiful Dub has the double pleasure of the word in its title and being beautiful to listen to.”

He’s not wrong:

Peaking Lights – Beautiful Dub

In fact, he’s not wrong on both fronts: there are loads of songs which link to “Beautiful”. Like this, for example (a bit of a gear change here):

Marilyn Manson – The Beautiful People

And then there’s this:

Suede – Beautiful Ones

And:

Not forgetting:

Neil Diamond – Beautiful Noise

Somebody stop me!

Ok, to break me out of this run, since we’ve now learned that a Beautiful Noise makes Mr Diamond feel good, just like a hand in a glove, I have to post this, don’t I….?

The Smiths – Hand In Glove (7” Version)

Anyone else care to add to the list?

“So many ‘beautiful’ songs,” PhonicPat thankfully chips in, “but eels’ Beautiful Freak could almost have been sung about Bono and the band.

eels – Beautiful Freak

I’m not sure if that’s meant to be a compliment or not. If it is, then frankly that’s not what we expect when asked to comment about U2 round here. Please allow Swiss Adam to show you how it’s done:

“U2 are bad. Really bad. Negativland nailed them and their egos with The U2 Song, daring them to sue. Which they did.”

Effin’ and jeffin’ alert:

Negativland – I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For (Special Edit Radio Mix)

There’s a little snatch (and no, I don’t mean Bono) of the melody of that, such as it is, which reminds me of Una Paloma Blanca by Jonathan King, but since I’ve banned Morrissey’s solo records from the blog because of his extremist views, I guess I should extend that to convicted paedophiles too. So instead, here’s the George Baker Selection with the titularly-truncated (presumably Ms Stubbs complained) Paloma Blanca:

George Baker Selection – Paloma Blanca

Bet you thought I was going to follow that up with a certain spoof version by The Wurzels, right?

Of course not. How dare you.

No, I’m going to follow that up with a cover of a certain spoof version by The Wurzels:

Going back to expressing one’s…erm…admiration for U2, perhaps one could take a leaf out Stevie from Charity Chic Music who does it in a much more subtle way:

“A mention of U2 leads to You’ve Already Put Big Old Tears in my Eyes (Must You Throw Dirt in my Face) by the Louvin Brothers”

Louvin Brothers – Must You Throw Dirt In My Face

Personally, whenever I hear the name U2, I want to rebel against it, and listen to the complete opposite. So, like a typically confusing clue on 70s game show 3-2-1

…here we go: The clue mentions the complete opposite and the the opposite of U could be Me or it could be We; the opposite of the opposite of 2 is the number immediately adjacent to it, so it could be 1 or it could be 3; if you want to rebel against something then you want to bring about change, and perhaps the most famous rebels were the French Resistance…so the next suggestion is of course:

I mean, really I should be awarding myself some points for Showboat of the Week. Not that I can be bothered awarding points anymore. Nobody really cares about them, do they?

Here’s Martin again with another song which sort of links to the band’s name:

“Finally I want to mention ‘U Talk 2 Much’ by Sultans of Ping FC, not least for its U2-referencing sleeve art”:

Which takes me back to PhonicPat, and an alternative Sultans of Ping FC tune, suggested “…for the footy link”:

Do you remember when U2 graciously and modestly decided that everyone with iTunes should be blessed with a free copy of their 2014 Songs of Innocence album, whether they wanted it or not? Well, that leads me here:

Janelle Monáe – Dirty Computer (feat. Brian Wilson)

Time to go off on some (non-football) tangents, I think, and so here’s Alyson from What’s It All About?:

“U-2 is a kind of plane and another plane become the inspiration for a song by OMD, so I’m going for Enola Gay, which very scarily was a big hit for them in 1980, 40 years ago now. The awful event addressed in the song, the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, happened only 35 years prior to that. Is it just me or is time running away with us as we get older?”

Keep it light, Aly, for Gawd’s sake:

Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark – Enola Gay

Well, if we’re side stepping to planes, then – surprise, surprise – I have a couple.

Predictably, this lot:

Status Quo – Paper Plane

And, perhaps less predictably, this:

M.I.A. – Paper Planes

On the same theme, some suggestions from a couple of first-timers (I think – apologies if you’ve contributed before and I’ve forgotten); firstly, give a big Chain Gang welcome to Devonian:

“U2 is a plane named after a letter and a number. B-52 is also a plane named after a letter and a number. Something by The B-52s, then… let’s say…”

The B-52’s – Mesopotamia

And follow that up with an equally warm hand on his entrance for Stevo Kifaru, who, for a first-time Chain Ganger has certainly got the hang of naming a load of records knowing full-well I won’t be able to resist posting them all:

“U2 were named after an American spy plane, the Lockheed U-2, so I’m going with the theme of Spies for a second. My initial thought was…:”

Was (Not Was) – Spy In The House Of Love

“…but then I thought…”

The Untouchables – I Spy (For The F.B.I.)

“…to be a cooler track.”

Hmm. Not sure about that, because of this:

Anyway, if we’re side-stepping into the world of spies and espionage, then we’ll have a bit of this, I think:

Super Furry Animals – She’s Got Spies

And this, too:

Pulp – I Spy

He’s not done there, though, is our Stevo:

“But as I’m typing this I think ‘The House of Love’ ooh Christine is such a sublime single, I mean those guitars…”:

The House of Love – Christine

Pop the handbrake on for a moment and hide the jacket potatoes, I have (yes, yet another) suggestion:

….which I’m sure you’ll agree is the very best of the mixes, right Chums?

It turns out Stevo is quite the Chatty Cathy (a bit rich, coming from me, granted), for he continues:

“I also thought U2 reminded me of the nomenclature of German submarines, always beginning with a U, & that brought me to Das Boot. Many years ago my friend randomly asked me, what was the number of the sub in Das Boot? I thought for a second & said U96. I have felt like such a nerd since that day, my friend obviously grateful that I answered his question, but the look he gave me was one of shock at my depths of geekness….In reality I just remembered the techno remix of the theme tune that was released under the name of U96….”:

U96 – Das Boot

So, having dealt with all things U2-related (was that what we were doing? I’ve lost track…), what about the individual band members?

And by band members, I mean your Bono fide ones, not charlatans like this chap:

Back to you, Robster:

“I’m also going to throw a Half Man Half Biscuit song into the mix, just because it’s Half Man Half Biscuit. Something from their ‘Achtung Bono’ album. How about…:”

Half Man Half Biscuit – For What Is Chatteris

In the interest of balance, perhaps I should point out that Bono at least seems to be vaguely self-aware and have a sense of humour about how many people view him, even if that sense of humour has been written by somebody else:

Right, who’s left?

Rigid Digit from Stuff & Nonsense, that’s who:

“U2 to Stiff Little Fingers to Grandmaster Flash and back to U2 in 3 moves:

There is a story that Adam Clayton says the bass line for U2’s ‘With Or Without You’ is basically Stiff Little Fingers’ ‘Alternative Ulster’ slowed down.”

Now. I know you haven’t suggested it, and I wouldn’t ordinarily post a second song by the source artist (especially when it’s U-Sodding-2), but I don’t think I can let that slide without investigating. So here’s both of those records, to allow us to compare and contrast:

U2 – With or Without You

Hmm. I suppose he may have a point. But it’s not exactly the most complicated bass-line in the world is it?

“SLFs 1997 album Tinderbox,” Rigid gamely continues, undeterred, “contains a cover version of ‘The Message’, which includes the lyric: “Don’t push me cos I’m close to the Edge”

So, here’s both the cover and the original. I do like a bit of SLF, but I know which of these I prefer:

Sounds a bit Walk This Way, only not as good to me, no? Imagine the Run DMC boys hadn’t turned up at the studio and so Aerosmith recorded their part too.

Where were we? Ah yes: Grandmaster Flash:

Much better.

Of course, any mention of The Edge being close to the edge means that I’m contractually obliged to share this clip:

Last ones before we find out what the next record in The actual Chain is, and I’ll hand over to The Great Gog to bring things to a thrilling climax as only he can:

“The phrase ‘close to the edge’ has already been mentioned. Of course Bono and the other two are close to The Edge when they play live. Close To The Edge was also an album recorded by Yes in 1972. Later versions of this album include a cover of the Paul Simon-penned America, also recorded in the same year.”

Now, I’m no Yes man, so I checked what Wiki has to say about this, and GG is quite correct:

In 1987, ‘Close to the Edge’ was reissued by Atlantic Records on CD in the United States and Europe. Another issue of the album was digitally remastered by Joe Gastwirt in 1994. In 2003, the album was reissued again on disc in an expanded and remastered edition by Rhino and Elektra Records. Included were two previously unreleased tracks: an alternate version of ‘And You and I’, an early run-through of ‘Siberian Khatru’, and Yes’s 1972 single ‘America’ with its b-side, an edit of ‘Total Mass Retain‘.”

Never in doubt:

It’s not so much a cover version as a lot of proggy noodling with the Simon & Garfunkel lyrics chucked in after a while.

I should be careful how I phrase that, really; for to describe them as ‘Simon & Garfunkel lyrics’ does rather give the impression that Art had some involvement in the song-writing process, a goof that Annie Nightingale made when she interviewed Paul Simon for The Old Grey Whistle Test many years ago:

“1972 saw Simon record the song ‘Mother & Child Reunion’,” GG continues. “He performed this song on stage (and presumably close to The Edge) with U2 at Madison Square Garden in 2015. The performance is on YouTube but the quality isn’t great and there’s a load of waffle from Bono at the start of it.”

Which seems a good enough reason to just post the Paul Simon version:

And all that leaves me to do is….oh wait. Rigid Digit is back:

“Forgot to include the story of my U2 branded SatNav. It’s terrible – the streets have no names, and I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.

And I think my U2 fridge is on the way out – all it does is Rattle and Hum.”

Thanks Rigid, I trust you’ll be here all week?

Anyway, as I was saying (he says, locking the door behind him to be on the safe side), all that leaves me to do is to give you the next song in The Chain, along with the way the person suggesting it got there. And don’t worry, it’s a waaaaaaaay better record this time:

The link: As PhonicPat said right at the top, Beautiful Day appeared on the band’s All That You Can’t Leave Behind album. What Pat didn’t say was that said album was produced by Brian Eno (and Daniel Lanois); and the album that this is taken from (Fear of Music) was also produced by Brian Eno (without Daniel Lanois):

So, your suggestions, please, for songs which link to Cities by Talking Heads, along with a brief description of the link, via the Comments Section down below or via email to dubioustaste26@gmail.com in time for whenever The Chain circus next rolls into town, in a month or so’s time (probably).

More soon.

Saturday Night at the Movies

It’s ok, I’m not ill or back in hospital or anything…I just decided to take a few days off from writing the usual tosh I come up with here.

But what a few days….the Ashes glory (for now)…Parliament getting itself all prorogued…and I went to the cinema.

I imagine all of the above will get further mentions at some point over the coming days (OK, I plan to mention them all), but for now I’ll focus on the latter.

On Thursday evening I had my first IMAX experience. I know, I know, about time. Truth be told, I didn’t plan on having this one; regular readers will now that I have one of those “Pay monthly, see as many films as you like” set ups, which I rarely take advantage of as much as I could because…well, it may be prepaid but that shouldn’t mean I feel obliged to go watch something with Gerard Butler in it, ta very much. (see also my other pet hates: Keifer Sutherland and Julia Roberts)

And so, on Tuesday, as there is a film out at the moment that I really wanted to see, I cranked up the movie theatre app I use, checked out the times, cursed that there wasn’t a showing starting post-work any earlier than 19:30 hours, bit the bullet and pressed “Book Seats”.

After selecting my seat of choice (aisle seat, towards the back), I was surprised to see it wanted to charge me £4.20 for the privilege of seeing the film in question.

Huh?

I cancelled the purchase, and tried a different film. No additional charge. And it was then that the penny dropped (all four hundred and twenty of them), that I was being charged extra because the film was being shown on the IMAX screen.

Ordinarily, I would have then waited until the film went over to boring old standard screenings, but I figured that I really wanted to see this one, so I’d stump up.

At work on Thursday, I mentioned to the chap who sits next to me at work – a film buff, I didn’t just collar him – that I was going to see the film in question. He pointed out the length to me (stop it!) and I told him it was just over 2 hours, which was fine. A quick check confirmatory check in iMDB clarified that it was actually 2 hours and 40 minutes.

A visit to the local supermarket to stock up on munchies was going to be required.

So, in case you haven’t worked it out yet, the film I went to see was Quentin Tarantino’s ninth film (or eighth, if you count Kill Bill Parts 1 and 2 as one film, which I don’t), Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood.

Now, I love Tarantino films, but I had realised I hadn’t actually been to the cinema to see one since Jackie Brown back in 1997.

And I’ve still not seen his last film, The Hateful Eight, at all, despite it having been in My List on Netflix for at least a year now. Well, I’ve seen the first twenty minutes or so, before I got bored as nothing had happened, bar Jennifer Jason Leigh getting punched in the face a couple of the times, which didn’t really float my boat, if I’m honest.

I’d read nothing but good reviews of QT’s latest offering though, so I figured it was about time I reacquainted myself with his works. I read an article which ranked his other films, and I was shocked to see that on said list Reservior Dogs and Pulp Fiction weren’t #1 and #2. (I’ve searched for the article again in advance of writing this, to confirm what was, but I can’t find it and can’t remember what they chose as #1, but whatever it was, they were wrong: how can any review of Tarantino’s films not conclude that those two films are his finest (interchangeable positions, I must admit)…?

So I watched Reservoir Dogs again last weekend, and it still stands up. There were a couple of things I noticed this time around – and it’s great I can watch a film which I first saw back in the early 1990s, have watched many times since, and still notice new things about it now – is the sound. Set predominantly in a disused warehouse as it is, I loved the echoey speech, and that you can hear better what someone is saying the closer the camera gets to him (they’re all “hims”, there are no female characters in Reservoir Dogs, we’ll come on to that later); also the many scenes where several conversations are taking place and you can focus in on any one of them, dip in and out, and yet nobody is trampling on anyone else’s lines.

Recently, I’d posited to a couple of people – my brother, some people at work – that people of a certain age must be really confused by adverts for motor insurance which feature Harvey Keitel dressed only in a tuxedo, a dodgy tache and a Noo Yoik accent. To folks of my generation, it’s clear: he’s reprising his role as Mr Wolf, the Mafia fixer from Pulp Fiction, only now he sees an insurance-related issue and he fixes that. But anyone who hasn’t seen Pulp Fiction must be looking at those ads thinking: “Who’s this guy? Why is he dressed like that, and why does he like his coffee with lots of cream and lots of sugar?”

Take my parents (please!). They have never seen a Tarantino film, and that’s fine because I don’t think many of them are the sort of film they would enjoy. My brother and I discussed letting them watch one: it can’t be Reservoir Dogs, as my father can’t stand the sight of blood, and there’s a lot of it in that one. And in pretty much all of them. Except Pulp Fiction. I mean, there’s a bit in Pulp Fiction, but not lots. Not main-character-shot-in-the-stomach-in-the-second-scene-and-left-to-bleed-out-on-a-ramp-in-a-disused-warehouse-for-the-rest-of-the-film-while-somebody-else-gets-their-ear-cut-off amount of blood, but there’s a bit.

Someone else I mentioned this to said: “What about the whole Zed and the anal rape scene?” I shrugged; they may wince, but I reckon they’ll be alright with that.

Mum, Dad: our Christmas viewing is sorted.

There is very little blood split in Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood, and I’m not sure if it’s wrong for me to wish there was.

Ok, so avoiding any spoilers, here’s the plot: it’s 1969 (a bloody good year) and Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a fading TV star, forever filming pilots which never get picked up, or making one-off appearances in other people’s shows, playing the baddie, and getting his ass royally whupped.

Throughout life he is accompanied by Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt) – note, not Clint Boon, or that would have been a very different film – his stuntman, although it soon becomes perfectly obvious that Booth no longer gets any fall guy work, he is essentially Dalton’s driver, his go-fer, his rent-a-buddy.

This is made clear by a scene which has no purpose whatsoever, except to show that Booth will indeed climb up on to a roof to repair Dalton’s TV aerial, and in the process take his shirt off.

Dalton is approached by a new agent, Marvin Shwarz (Al Pacino), who thinks Dalton would be perfect for the burdgeoning spaghetti Western scene in Italy, and wants him to fly out and give it a try.

Dalton fears this is a sign that he is washed-up, and so takes a part in another Western, desperate to prove his acting chops. Which he does, and then takes the Itaian lira anyway.

And that takes up pretty much all of the first two hours.

Mixed up with that is the incidental news that Dalton lives in a prefab just outside the walls of director Roman Polanski’s gated apartment, where he lives with his young wife Sharon Tate.

Now, anyone of my age probably knows how this pans out. Any moment now, a character called Charles Manson will appear and this could get interesting. And sure enough, there he is, goofing up to the Polanski residence, ostensibly looking for a couple of the Wilson Beach Boys.

And that’s the last we see of Manson.

But we’ll shy away from that for a moment, and concentrate on Sharon Tate, played by Margot Robbie. Quite simply: she’s not in it enough. She has three big scenes:

  1. She arrives at a party and dances. This scene is only there so that Steve McQueen, played by Damian Lewis… (?!?!), can explain to us/his associate/us the relationship between Tate/Polanski/Jay Sebring (Tate’s ex).

2. She visits a movie theatre which is showing a movie she is in with Dean Martin, and asks the cashier if she can come in for free as she’s in the film;

3. The end scene, which I won’t spoil for you.

Sure, she pops up in the film every now and then, generally greeting people with a hug, but Robbie is criminally underused. The scene where she watches herself on screen in the cinema (sorry, a spoiler: she gets let in) is an absolute joy; she giggles and nervously looks around to assess the audience’s reaction, before relaxing, kicking her shoes off, and putting her feet on the backs of the seat in front.

Robbie absolutely nails the few scenes she’s in, and she should have been in more. But that’s the problem with Tarantino films: he ain’t that great at writing female characters.

Those first two hours really could have been edited down and still explain the Dalton/Booth dynamic and give Robbie more to do, but hey ho, what do I know, I’m not a millionaire film director.

And that’s another issue with Tarantino: given carte blanche, nobody is reigning him in. That’s why Kill Bill is spread over two parts and that’s why Once Upon A Time… could have been cut to around the two hour mark and nobody would have complained. I hear rumours that there is a nine-hour version which I won’t be watching.

The other truly great scene is when Pitt’s character (Booth) picks up an underage hitch-hiker and gives her a lift to where she squats with her Family, on a disused film-lot where Booth used to work, and knows the guy who still owns it.

It’s a genuinely tense 20-30 or so minutes (or so it seemed) as it becomes apparant that he has wandered into the home of The Family, the group which Charles Manson assembled around him, and for a while there’s a brooding feeling that something is about to happen – and since this is a Tarantino film, it probably ain’t gonna be too pretty.

No spoilers.

If you follow Tarantino films – and if you do then you’ve probably already seen this, so I won’t be spoiling it for you – I’d place Once Upon A Time… in the same bracket as his WWII flick Inglorious Basterds in that it’s an historical film based in reality, where rather than show how things did pan out he posits an alternative reality where what we know happens doesn’t. And while the alternative is, in typical Tarantino style, quite brutal and unpleasant, I’m not sure it’s any less pleasant than what actually happened.

And then there’s the music.

I’ve written before about how songs used in films can almost become an additional character.

Nowadays, if you hear the George Baker Selection’s Little Green Bag or Stealers Wheel’s Stuck in the Middle With You, chances are you’ll be reminded of Reservoir Dogs.

Similarly, hear Dick Dale and His Del-Tones’ Misirlou or Dusty Springfield’s Son Of A Preacher Man or even Urge Overkill’s version of the Neil Diamond gem Girl, You’ll Be A Woman Soon or Chuck Berry’s You Never Can Tell and if you’ve seen Pulp Fiction then the scenes they appear in become your immediate frame of reference.

And although Once Upon A Time… has a great soundtrack the same won’t happen. It sounds kinda forced to me, like knowing the commercial possibilities of a Tarantino-soundtrack, he tries to cram as much in as possible. But none of the songs really latch on, take hold, in the film in the way that they were allowed to in his older movies. The songs are clearly a soundtrack, rather than an integral part of of the movie as they were back in the …Dogs and …Fiction days.

What I mean is this: on the Reservoir Dogs soundtrack, dead-pan, existenstial one-liner comedy God Steven Wright plays the DJ, and it’s brilliant. There’s the same on the Once Upon A Time… soundtrack (and I know, I bought it before I saw the film) only now it’s not Wright it’s just a radio jock, and thus half of the appeal is broken. And in the film, not one song is given enough time or space to take hold, to really get a grip in the way that they’d been allowed to in his older films, so whilst the songs are still great, they become forgettable in the context.

In twenty years time, I won’t be hearing Deep Purple’s Hush and saying: “Oh yeh, this is the bit in the film where they drive around for a bit and then park.”

These songs are all in the film, are all brilliant, but literally blink (or whatever the not-listening equivalent is) and you’ll miss them:

Roy Head & The Traits – Treat Her Right

Deep Purple – Hush

Paul Revere & the Raiders – Hungry

Buchanan Brothers – Son of a Lovin’ Man

José Feliciano – California Dreamin’

Neil Diamond – Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show

In summary: I liked, but it was a bit long and the ending (after the bloody ending) sucked.

More soon.

Replenishing the Vinyl

This morning, a track from an album that I remember my Dad having when I was a kid, an album that I love pretty much every track from, which I bought on vinyl recently, but an album I remember predominantly because my Dad’s copy had split and had a piece of duct tape across the outer circle of the vinyl, holding it together, and thus over the first track on each side.

It’s okay, I’ve explained to him why the idea of putting duct tape on a vinyl album is unwise since then.

That album: Neil Diamond’s “Stones”.

I’d say that if you wanted a starting point with Diamond’s records, this is it. Although it is pretty much exclusively cover versions, you get a feel for his influences and musical style much more than with, say, the more recent Rick Rubin produced stuff.

Anyway, given last night’s football result, which pretty much ends my lots’ already slim chances of overtaking our West London rivals (and I’m really not looking forward to work on Monday, where I sit opposite a Chelsea fan), this, a Joni Mitchell cover, of course, seems a rather begrudgingly appropriate tune:

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Neil Diamond – Chelsea Morning

Last year was difficult; we were second through most of the season, and whilst everyone was willing Leicester City on to their deserved historic win, so nobody wanted us to catch them.

This year, I got the feeling things were different. Everyone, except for knuckle-dragging Chelsea fans, once their own teams were out of the running (and Arsenal fans excepted) wanted us to win, and it’s annoying that we’ve fallen short again. I just hope there isn’t the same final game, already on the beach, capitulation that we saw last year against Newcastle, which meant we ended up third rather than second.

More (about dreams being crushed) soon. (I feel an Election related post coming on.)

How to Do a Cover Version

Many, many months ago, one of my longest serving readers and friends sent me a message about this thread that I used to occasionally do.

The message went something along the lines of: “Do you just do cover versions in English? If not, I have one for you….”

To my eternal shame, it was her birthday yesterday, and like the totally disorganised schmuck I am, I missed it.

So, in a pathetically shallow attempt to make up for it, Happy (belated) Birthday Cat, these three (count ’em!) are for you:

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Gianni Morandi – Se Perdo Anche Te

And here’s a slightly more famous, much more stripped down version:

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Johnny Cash – Solitary Man

And here’s the original, which sort of sits between the two:

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Neil Diamond – Solitary Man

Much as I love Cash and Diamond, I have to say the Morandi version is rather fine.

Raising a (okay, several) drinks to you tonight Cat.

More soon.

The Chain #31

Okay, okay, I’m a little later than usual. My apologies. I seem to have developed some kind of Chain Tourette’s Syndrome this week, incapable of resisting posting an additional link or splurging out another suggestion. You’ll see.

Last week we ended with “Live Forever” by Oasis, and it’s fair to say the Mancunian siblings caused quite the difference in opinions between you, with some voicing “By and large and on the whole, all things considered… Oasis can piss off” and others “Can I start by saying that I bloody love Oasis?”

As usual, suggestions came from one of several broad categories, but where to start?

At the beginning, seems as good a place as any. Here’s Swiss Adam from Bagging Area to kick things off:

“Johnny Marr springs to mind (shared manager, guitar given by Johnny to Noel on which he wrote that song I think). Johnny Marr’s solo song ‘Upstarts’ from a couple of years ago was splendid, a comeback. And even though I don’t much like ’em, Oasis were upstarts for a while.”

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Johnny Marr – Upstarts

You can add the fact that Noel Gallagher joined Johnny on stage when I saw him at the Brixton Academy last year to that list of connections too, if you like.

Let’s use collaborations as the starting point to kick on with, and a second suggestion from Swiss Adam:

“Oasis recorded a song with another Johnny. Johnny Depp. Who was attached to Vanessa Paradis who had a hit with the strangely alright ‘Joe Le Taxi’.”

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Vanessa Paradis – Joe Le Taxi

Those of you who read the Comments section will know that prompted a big fat “Did they??” from Yours Truly. In fact, it turns out everyone’s favourite begrudgingly apologetic dog smuggler recorded with them twice, on “Fade In-Out” from “Be Here Now”, and on “Fade Away (Warchild Version)” from the 1995 “Help!” compilation album. In fact, anything with the word “Fade” in the title, and Depp was all over it like a tramp on chips.

He also, of course, plays guitar on this:

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

But I digress; back to Swiss Adam for his hat-trick of collaboration suggestions (even though his first one wasn’t really one):

“John Squire played with the Burnage numpties at Knebworth. And John Squire was in the Stone Roses without whom Oasis would never have existed. They could also never have written anything as trippy and light as Elephant Stone.”

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The Stone Roses – Elephant Stone

Continuing the theme, let’s shift from people who have played with Oasis, to acts that have featured one of the band (okay, let’s face it, Liam or Noel). Over to Badger from When You Can’t Remember Anything:

“Live Forever is considered by many as Liam’s greatest vocal recording. Although that’s harsh on ‘Little James’. Anyway Liam also contributes vocals to Echo and the Bunnymen’s wonderful comeback single ‘Nothing Lasts Forever’. The irony of that was probably lost in him.”

Wonderful is damning this record with faint praise; I often dread a band I love reforming and releasing their new material, but Echo & The Bunnymen proved the exception to the rule with this:

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Echo & The Bunnymen – Nothing Lasts Forever

And of course, with “Forever” in the title, we have a double-linker! We’ll come back to more with a similar (okay, identical) link later on.

The mere mention of Liam gives me the opportunity to post this, from the “Live Forever” Britpop documentary, my favourite ever interview clip involving him, where he is asked if he feels he has an androgynous quality about him:

Anyway, another suggestion from me, this time featuring the other one-eyebrowed wonder. Noel Gallagher teamed up with The Lemonheads’ Evan Dando to record – but never officially release (hence the absence of a proper sleeve and the somewhat shonky sound quality) – this:

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Noel Gallagher & Evan Dando – Purple Parallelogram

What? There were people in Oasis other than Liam and Noel you say? Over to Rigid Digit from Stuff and Nonsense:

“Oasis’ bass player Paul McGuigan co-authored (with Paolo Hewitt) a book called ‘The Greatest Footballer You Never Saw’ about ex Reading and Cardiff City player Robin Friday.

A picture of Robin Friday “flicking the V” at the Luton Town goalkeeper was used on the cover of the Super Furry Animals ‘The Man Don’t Give A F**k'”

He certainly was:

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Super Furry Animals – The Man Don’t Give A Fuck

And, since I’m going to see them next Friday at The Roundhouse perform not only their brilliant debut album “Fuzzy Logic” but also their even better follow-up album “Radiator”, here’s a bonus, a tune I’ve posted before, their epic 22:30 minute long live version from the Hammersmith Apollo, complete with Cian Ciaran’s techno wig out section:

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Super Furry Animals – The Man Don’t Give a Fuck (Live Hammersmith Apollo)

Before I start posting nothing but Super Furry Animals records, it’s time for The Beard to perform an intervention:

“Oasis’ touring keyboardist was Jay Darlington from Britpop no-marks Kula Shaker [Don’t worry folks, he’s not going there]. Their lead singer Crispin Mills was the son of actress Hayley Mills. She starred in the film ‘Tiger Bay’ (alongside, I think, Sir John Mills?) [Correct!]. ‘Tiger Bay’ is also the name of Saint Etienne’s third album. ‘Like A Motorway’ from this album, please.”

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Saint Etienne – Like A Motorway

As usual, competition has been hot this week to come up with the Worst Record of the Week, and here’s The Great Gog with the first, which not only links to the Gallagher brothers, but also to the football team mentioned in The Official Chain link which led us here:

“…the brothers Gallagher support a certain team who are still in the Champions League (sorry, couldn’t resist!)…[*cough* 2-0, 2nd October 2016]…so, the ditty supposedly sung by the early ’70’s City squad, “The Boys In Blue” – although I can’t imagine that the likes of Franny Lee would have been that good at holding a tune.”

No need to imagine, GG, here they are, and let’s just say Franny was no Ossie Ardiles, either on the pitch or in the studio:

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Manchester City FC – Boys in Blue

I’ll be honest, I only posted that so I could bring your attention to the song-writing credits, which will probably seem familiar to many of you. Yes, Godley, Crème and Gouldman – three fifths of 10cc. The muso-nerds amongst you will know that 10cc get their name from the average male ejaculate. 10cc formed in 1972, the same year as “Boys in Blue” was released. There’s a joke in there somewhere, but you don’t need me to do it, you can fill in the wanks blanks.

Anyway, back to you GG:

“Also, there is of course, “Blue Moon” – of which there have been many versions, but as an early contender for Worst Song Of The Week, I’ll plump for Showaddywaddy’s version.”

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Showaddywaddy – Blue Moon

You have to feel a bit sorry for Showaddywaddy, surely the most unintentional casualty of the whole Operation Yew tree thing, for who amongst us didn’t used  to enjoy saying their name in the voice of a certain, dead, disgraced, BBC DJ, TV presenter and paedophile? And now even that simple joy has been taken away from us. I bet Eric Bristow does that impression still. (See, I’m nothing if not topical!)

Something a little more straight forward and less contentious next: here’s Charity Chic from Charity Chic Music:

“Until I come up with something obscure I’ll go for an obvious one: ‘Midnight at the Oasis by Maria Mulduar’.”

As it happens, CC wasn’t the only one to suggest this record; step forward Kuttowski from A few good times in my life:

“The first thing that came on my mind was a song by Maria Muldaur. Midnight At The Oasis is one of these songs that accompanied me during the last decades. I really can’t explain why I can’t get this little folk/jazz tune out of my mind. Probably because it is just a good song.”

And here it is:

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Maria Muldaur – Midnight At The Oasis

Now, the more astute among you will have noticed a couple of references to Liam and Noel Gallagher so far. Here’s George to explain the link between these two fine gentlemen with the same surname:

“Oasis had the Gallagher brothers in them. And there are a plethora of bands that have brothers , so I will suggest Creedence Clearwater Revival (who featured two Fogertys) and ‘Born On The Bayou’.”

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Creedence Clearwater Revival – Born on the Bayou

Oooh- bands with siblings in them, can I play? Please pwetty please?

It seems to me that Scotland has more than its’ fair share of bloody marvellous musical talent, and quite a few music bloggers too, many of whom visit these pages, so this one’s for you, a much overlooked (until that bloody awful musical came out a few years ago; other than featuring the music of The Proclaimers, it has little to recommend it) and rather lovely tune:

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The Proclaimers – Sunshine on Leith

And, well, if we’re going to have one Scottish band with a couple of brothers called Reid, we’d better have the other one too (PS. Neil Reid was not one of them):

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The Jesus & Mary Chain – Cherry Came Too

Okay. Brace yourself. Here’s George with the winner of this week’s Worst Record of the Week award.

“Going from the Gallagher Brother to two sisters, those two in the Cheeky Girls (one of them married Lembit Opik) and, having consulted with my partner, their most famous song is called Cheeky Song, which I’ve just played. It’s rubbish.”

I do love the way that George always pretends not to know anything about his suggestions for Worst Record of The Week and tries to shift the blame over to his other half. We all know the truth, George, you’re fooling nobody.

Thank god neither of you have heard of Jedward, s’all I can say.

Oh, and a slight correction; Lembit Opik didn’t marry one of the Cheeky Girls, they were engaged but split up in 2008 after a “difficult period” in the relationship, which I think we can interpret as meaning “when he slept with the wrong sister”.

So, here’s what I’m sure will be the least clicked link of the week. I, on the other hand have had to listen to that more times when writing this blog than I had ever had the misfortune to hear it before (Twice).

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The Cheeky Girls – Cheeky Song (Touch My Bum)

Look! There’s a Christmas Remix!! If you’re all very good boys and girls, I’ll see if I can find that and post it nearer the 25th. I bet it has some sleigh bells and probably a joke about pulling a Christmas Cracker.

Let’s get out of here, and have some simple songs which link to the word “Live”, the word “Forever”, or some derivative of either.

Time, then, to give the customary very warm Chain Gang welcome to first time contributor Martin from New Amusements (is that a Gene reference I espy, Martin…?):

“I’m going with living forever… having tinkered with synonyms (eternal and immortal) and come to unsatisfactory dead ends (anything by, er, Eternal, and Immortals by Fall Out Boy), I have instead decided to opt for the words “Electric word, life. It means forever, and that’s a mighty long time.”

In other words, Let’s Go Crazy by Prince. Doubly fitting, as those Gallagher boys have been known to go crazy on the odd occasion…”

A classy suggestion, and just what the Doctor order after George let those pesky cheeky-ettes in:

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Prince & The Revolution – Let’s Go Crazy

Whilst we’re on lyrical references, here’s Alex G from We Will Have Salad:

“Oasis claim they’re gonna live forever. Irene Cara claimed likewise on “Fame”. To be fair to all involved, they’re not wrong *yet*.”

There’s still another month left of 2016, Alex. Plenty of time yet.

On the day or so before I write The Chain, I upload all of the songs onto a playlist on my iPod, and give them a listen as I commute to and from work, the idea being that a) I can check all of the mp3s sound okay, b) can get a rough idea of the running order, and c) hope I can think of something interesting or amusing to write about each tune. As I got to off the bus and walked to the office this morning, this tune came on:

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Irene Cara – Fame

I have to say, it put me in a really good mood for the start of the day. You should try it. The only disappointing thing about it was that when I got to the office, not one person was wearing a leotard or leggings, Doris wasn’t squawking “Hi Fidelity” by the water cooler, nor was Bruno attempting to play the photocopier like a piano. Still, can’t have everything.

Back, now, to The Great Gog, who before he started regaling us with Manchester City related awfulness, did actually suggest this:

“My first thought was to suggest another song with the words ‘live’ and ‘forever’ in the title: OMD – ‘(Forever) Live And Die’.”

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Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark – Forever Live and Die

Next, as Mark Morrison almost once said, it’s the Return of the Badger:

“But having gone down the forever route…other things can be forever as well. Like Polymers according to Future of the Left….”

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Future of the Left – Polymers Are Forever

“…and fucking if you listen to Babyshambles.” Which I don’t as a rule, but then I’ve listened to The Cheeky Girls twice, I may as well give Babyshambles a whirl:

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Babyshambles – Fuck Forever

Remember earlier we were talking about Oasis records that Johnny Depp had played on? Well here’s fun: that Warchild version of “Fade Away” also featured one time Pete Doherty muse Kate Moss giving it the full Linda McCartey on tambourine. What are the odds, eh?

Here’s George, who doesn’t seem even remotely apologetic for making me/us listen to The Cheeky Girls:

“…on the forever link, what about ‘Forever Came Today’ by Diana Ross and The Supremes?”

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Diana Ross & The Supremes – Forever Came Today

Time for some input from the fairer sex: here’s Alyson from What’s It All About, Alfie?:

“Ok so The Cheeky Girls song may get the prize for the worst record of the week [there’s no “may” about it, it does] but here is another contender. “Forever and Ever” by that hirsute Greek, Demis Roussos. I always thought Neil Diamond (my choice from last week) was a very hirsute man back in the day with all that exposed chest hair, but nothing on Mr Roussos. Come to think of it the Gallagher Brothers are quite hirsute in the eyebrow department, them having only one an’ all. A double-link and a pattern forming here for me relating to hairy men!”

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Demis Roussos – Forever and Ever

Next to return for a second, and indeed a third, suggestion is kuttowski:

“‘Live Forever’ is the name of a live album by Bob Marley from back in 1980. So I suggest Burnin’ and Lootin’”

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Bob Marley & The Wailers – Burnin’ and Lootin’

More from Kuttowski:

“‘Live Forever’ is the name of a documentary about the rise and fall of Brit Pop from the mid 90’s to their end. Pulp’s Common People with it’s wonderful lyrics became a signature to Brit Pop.”

Indeed, to my mind the anthem of Britpop, and a song kept from reaching Number One by Robson and Jerome, who also kept Oasis’s “Wonderwall” from the top slot.

Here’s the full length version from “Different Class”:

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Pulp – Common People

Time to hand over to Rol from My Top Ten for his musings of the week:

“First thought: Queen – Who Wants To Live Forever?

Which, if the question referred to the Oasis song, would lead to a resounding “Not me!” I appreciate that some people might feel the same about Queen, but quite frankly they would be, at best, misguided.”

I told you Oasis divided opinions, didn’t I?

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Queen – Who Wants To Live Forever

I’m not sure if it’s distasteful, ironic or entirely appropriate that this is posted just as we pass the 25th anniversary of Freddie Mercury’s death, but since I know Rol is a big fan of Queen (as opposed to a fan of big queens) I’ll go with the latter.

“‘Who Wants To Live Forever?’ comes from the soundtrack of the movie Highlander, which leads me naturally to a lovely early Billy Joel song called ‘Summer, Highland Falls.’ Hey, if we can show Neil Diamond love, Billy must get his too.”

A debate for another day, I think, but certainly one I’ll be backing you up on (up to a point):

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Billy Joel – Summer, Highland Falls

Now, amongst that, you mentioned Neil Diamond, didn’t you? Over to Charity Chic again:

“The by now obligatory Neil Diamond moment – ‘Forever in Blue Jeans'”:

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Neil Diamond – Forever in Blue Jeans

Phenomenal bit of work there, artist responsible for the design of the single sleeve.

“What’s next on the list?”

“Something called “Forever in Blue Jeans” by Neil Diamond. Any ideas?”

“How about we just stick his face on some denim?”

“Perfect. Fancy a pint?”

Now this song reminds me of someone, a former flatmate of mine and Hel’s. This was his favourite record by Diamond. I mean, it’s okay but it’s no “I Am…I Said”, is it? Hell, it’s not even “Cracklin’ Rosie” or “Beautiful Noise”. This is one of the perils of house-sharing these days; you can interview them as much as you like, but you never know what people are really like until they move in. This guy was priceless.

He survived on a diet of pizza and pasta on alternating days, then tried to take the piss out of me for eating liking foreign food because I was eating Mexican one evening. His idea of eating pasta was to boil some water, add pasta, drain then add nothing but tomato ketchup. Once, he realised he had put too much water in the saucepan, so decided to empty some out – into the kitchen bin, rather than into the sink. He would eat packets of crisps and just drop the empty packets on the floor. We once found a half devoured bag of Doritos next to the toilet. A toilet which he refused to lift the seat of when he peed, and which he refused to flush before he left to go to work (after we had) of a morning, leaving a gorgeous odour to greet the first person home. He made several unwelcome passes at Hel, and made up an entirely fictitious girlfriend who he claimed worked on a leading TV soap opera, even though we did know someone who worked on the same show who categorically told us the girl didn’t exist. Oh, and he did a runner from the house in the middle of the day when we were at work, leaving me and Hel to cover his share of the household bills, and I suspect, liberating a large chunk of my vinyl – including all of The Smiths original Rough Trade album releases – as he went.

All of which might just about be forgivable were it not for one thing: he liked Kasabian.

Every possible opportunity he had, he would bang on about how awesome they were, and when one of their albums, I forget which, the one where they try and sound like Oasis meets the Stones meets “Rocks”-era Primal Scream probably, like that narrows it down, was voted Album of the Year by Q magazine, he bought a copy (of the magazine), and kept leaving it around the house, open at the relevant page, like we were going to go “Oh, well if Q says it’s the Album of the Year….”

And if it wasn’t Kasabian, it was bloody Mumford & Sons. I rest my case.

I mention all of this now, because one day he burst into the house, breathless with excitement, gushing “Jez…Jez…have you heard of Longpigs? Best…Britpop band…ever!”

Now don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong with Longpigs first album, “The Sun is Often Out”. And they gave us Richard Hawley, so for that we are of course grateful In fact, I can’t believe I’ve never posted anything by him – I’ll rectify that over the weekend.

But best Britpop band ever? C’mon…

Anyway, that leads me, in a very roundabout way indeed, to what I think is their finest moment. For if you do Live Forever, then surely it could be said that you go on and on…

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Longpigs – On and On

Ahem. Where were we?

Ah yes, back to Rol, I think:

“Final thought, on the subject of living forever (unless I have another thought)…

Ryan Adams (no B) – ‘Note To Self: Don’t Die’ …would be good advice for any budding immortals.”

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Ryan Adams – Note to Self Don’t Die

Another inadvertent double-linker there, as Mr B-less Adams also once covered Oasis’s “Wonderwall”, as did this lot:

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The Mike Flowers Pops – Wonderwall

Remember when Worst Record of the Week used to be about posting the Cheesiest Record of the Week? Well, that would win, even if it’s deliberately so.

And, just take a look at that Radio 1 sticker that proudly adorns the front. It reads: “As First Heard on the Kevin Greening Show”. Surely I’m not alone in furrowing my brow and saying, “Sorry, who??” Perhaps his career was cut short precisely because it was his show that first played that.

Hang on, Rol’s thought of something else. Having convinced himself not to suggest something by Gallagher and Lyle, he came back with this:

“Oh, I just had a thought about the Gallagher & Lyle route that would lead to a semi-respectable song.

Gallagher & Lyle reminds me of Tate & Lyle.

Tate & Lyle make sugar.

So… Sugar – ‘If I Can’t Change Your Mind'”

“Semi-respectable”?? That’s a fine record, and no mistake:

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Sugar – If I Can’t Change Your Mind

“Please post the video so everyone can laugh at Bob Mould’s cardigan,” Rol concludes.

Okay, but I’m rather a partial to a nice cardy, so no sniggering:

Now, who haven’t we heard from yet? Ah yes, SWC from When You Can’t Remember Anything:

The B Side to ‘Live Forever’ was ‘Up in the Sky’ which is where according to Sugar you would find the City of Armenia.”

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Sugar – Armenia City in the Sky

…which is a cover of The Who track from “The Who Sell Out” of course. And Oasis covered The Who’s “My Generation” on their live album “Lord Don’t Slow Me Down”. This week, more than any, we seem to be going round in circles and finding additional links.

“Alternatively,” SWC continues, “the complete opposite of live forever would be dying young so we could have ‘All Die Young’ by much missed Smith Westerns.”

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Smith Westerns – All Die Young

Or, for that matter, this, from the second Blondie album I ever bought as a kid (after I got “Best of Blondie”, but before “Parallel Lines”):

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Blondie – Die Young Stay Pretty

And one more from SWC:

“Live Forever was apparently inspired by ‘Shine a Light’ by The Rolling Stones so we could have that.”

Sure could:

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The Rolling Stones – Shine a Light

Next up, its The Swede from Unthought of, though, somehow:

“I’ll make a simple jump from Oasis to fellow Creation recording artists Swervedriver – ‘Rave Down’ please!”

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Swervedriver – Rave Down

I had totally forgotten how good that is, like a cross between My Bloody Valentine and Doves.

Last suggestion of the week, and I’ve deliberately kept this one back til last. I’ll leave you in the capable hands of The Robster from Is This the Life? to wrap things up:

“Pre-Oasis, Noel Gallagher was a roadie for Inspiral Carpets. Post-Oasis, he formed the High Flying Birds. Therefore I offer ‘Flying Like A Bird’ from Inspiral Carpets’ self-titled comeback album from 2014. I’d also like to dedicate it to their drummer Craig Gill who passed away last week.”

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Inspiral Carpets – Flying Like a Bird

On which poignant note, all that is left for me to do is the admin bit. Here’s the link to the next record in The Official Chain, an underwhelming link as is so often the case, but a great record:

“Oasis used a leisure centre in Swindon as inspiration for their band name. Also from Swindon were…”

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31. XTC – The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead

You know the drill by now; your suggestions for records that link to “The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead” by XTC, along with a brief description as to how you got from one to the other, via the Comments section below.

See you next week, Chain Gang!

(More soon).

The Chain #30

This week seems to have flown by; Wednesday evening and I find myself woefully unprepared for this week’s edition of The Chain. I blame Teenage Fanclub for being so bloody good last night, and for taking up one of my evenings usually spent getting this ready.

Also, my efforts to track down one of your suggestions led me to download the entire album as a single mp4, then edit it down to the one song I needed, then convert it to an mp3. I’ll not say which one, I’ll wait and see whether my new found tech skills are detected!

In short, this may be a little briefer than usual. Sorry.

So, last week, after being inundated with suggestions which linked to The Band’s “Up on Cripple Creek” which involved songs which mentioned creeks, various other bodies of water, and…erm…cripples, I rather thought that I might have it easy this week when the next track in The Official Chain turned out to be Neil Young’s “Cripple Creek Ferry”.

No such luck.

So let’s crack on, shall we? And where better to start that with babylotti:

“I don’t care how obvious it is, I’m getting Saint Etienne’s version of ‘Only Love Can Break Your Heart’ in first!”

There are plenty of mixes of this to choose from; my own personal favourite is Andrew Weatherall’s “A Mix in Two Halves”, but tonight, Matthew, I’m plumping for the better known version from Saint Etienne’s classic “Foxbase Alpha”:

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Saint Etienne – Only Love Can Break Your Heart

He’s not done there, though, nosireebob:

“Also, Elkie Brooks had a hit in 1978 with the aforementioned song, from the same album came the one single I remember her for:”

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Elkie Brooks – Pearl’s a Singer

And he’s still not done:

“And I now also have to link to ‘Pearl’s Girl’ from Underworld.”

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Underworld – Pearl’s Girl

“Elkie Brooks did a lot of good songs in the early 70’s,” chips in Kuttowski of A Few Good Times in my Life. “She was formerly the singer together with Robert Palmer in Vinegar Joe. I well remember them with their ‘Proud To Be A Honky Woman’.”

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Vinegar Joe – Proud To Be (A Honky Woman)

Well, having allowed “Pearl’s Girl” it’d be pretty churlish of me to refuse to post that, wouldn’t it?

That’s a pretty rollicking start to this week’s usual eclectic mix of the good, the bad, and the ugly, I’m sure you’ll agree.

Time for a seamless link, I think.

Here’s Badger from When You Can’t Remember Anything:

“Cripple Creek was also the name of a Western made in 1952 directed by Ray Nazarro and if we are talking Westerns then there is only one place to go and that is with “The Good, The Bad and the Ugly” or possibly from the soundtrack of the same name “The Ecstasy of Gold” which brings it back to the Gold thing”

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Ennio Morricone – The Ecstasy of Gold

“Gold thing? What gold thing?”, I hear you ask. That’s the problem with me jiggling the running order in a vain attempt to build some sort of narrative to appease you all; sometimes the links may be seamless but sometimes there’s a mention of a link that I haven’t covered yet. I’ll let Badger clarify:

“Cripple Creek is a town in Colorado and used to be very big in gold mining. This instantly allows a link to “Gold Mine Gutted” by Bright Eyes, that they are also signed to Saddle Creek, means you get a double link, all I need is a ferry and you have the whole shebang.”

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Bright Eyes – Gold Mine Gutted

Badger wasn’t the only person to mention the gold link. Step forward and take a bow Alex G from We Will Have Salad:

“’Cripple Creek Ferry’ is from the album ‘After The Gold Rush’. One of the most (in)famous gold rushes was the California gold rush which started in 1848 but exploded in 1849, and whose prospectors were thus dubbed ’49ers’, which naturally leads to the Italo-house outfit 49ers and their classic hit “Touch Me”.

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49ers – Touch Me (12″ Sexual Mix)

NB – there is very little that is “sexual” about that mix.

Which leads me on to the first of my suggestions this week. 49ers are mentioned in the American folk song, so beloved of Huckleberry Hound, “Oh My Darling Clementine” which leads me on to this little lot:

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My Darling Clementine – She Is Still My Weakness

…which in turn very nearly led me on to “My Weakness is None of Your Business” by Embrace, but you’ll be pleased to learn I showed some self-constraint.

Anyway, back to Badger:

“Or if you want contenders for the worst suggestion ‘Going For Gold’ by Shed Seven.”

I have a bit of a soft spot for Shed Seven, as it goes. They always seemed to be trying quite hard to make records which exceeded their limited capabilities. That said, ‘Going for Gold’ is not one of their finer moments. It’s also not even close to being the worst suggestion of the week, I’m afraid.

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Shed Seven – Going For Gold

Now then. Awful records. I appear to have created a monster here. For this week you were all tripping over yourselves to suggest them.

“I’m going to win the prize for Worst Record On The Chain this week” says George.

Go on then. Do your worst.

“Neil Young was also the name of a Manchester City forward of the 1960s. And one of his team-mates was Colin Bell. And Colin Bell’s birthday is February 26th. As is Michael Bolton’s. And amongst Mr Bolton’s songs is a cover of ‘Yesterday’, which is so bad I’m not sure you should post it. Mr Bolton also covered ‘Ain’t No Sunshine’ which is catastrophically poor as well. All of which is quite a shame because he seems like a genuinely nice and amusing bloke. By the way, for the sake of your well-being never play his cover of ‘So Tired Of Being Alone’. It’s really shit.”

What you seem to have done there is name three records which you don’t want me to play. You lot are lucky enough to be able to choose whether or not to click play, but me? I’ve had to listen to all of them to decide which one to post, so I’m tempted to post all three, but I’m not that cruel. So here’s the first one you mentioned:

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Michael Bolton – Yesterday

Think that’s the worst record of the week? Think again.

Getting my hopes up for something…well…a bit less shit, or failing that, somebody with a credible haircut at least, by starting his first suggestion with the word “Heh” before launching into a bit of Greek mythology, here’s Rol of My Top Ten:

“Heh.

Charon is the Ferryman in Greek mythology. He carries your soul on his boat down the river…

Yes…

Styx.

“It’s you, babe, whenever I get weary or I’ve had enough… feel like giving up, you know it’s YOUUU, babe…”

Etc.”

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Styx – Babe

Will you just take a look at some of those barnets? Yes, it was 1980, but that’s no excuse. Anyway, what are the odds of them having turned up here, as well as being the models in the display pictures that first caught the eye of Michael Bolton in the window of his local barber’s shop?

“Alternatively,” Rol continues, “if you want something a little bit cooler…

Half Man Half Biscuit – Styx Gig (Seen By My Mates Coming Out Of A)

There.

Cred restored.

Just.

(Not that I care about such things.)”

Shan’t post it, then.

Yeh, right. Like I’m ever going to pass up the opportunity to post something by Half Man Half Biscuit:

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Half Man Half Biscuit – Styx Gig (Seen By My Mates Coming Out of A)

Also intent on restoring his reputation after his earlier Michael Bolton aberration, is George, although when George has a theme, he sure as heck sticks with it:

“To make up for that, you can have some Fats Domino (The Fat Man I suggest) as Mr Domino shares his birthday with Colin Bell.”

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Fats Domino – The Fat Man

And why stop there, when you’re on a hat-trick?:

“And a Johnny Cash track, as he too shares the same birthday as Colin Bell, what about Personal Jesus?”

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Johnny Cash – Personal Jesus

Now Rol’s and George’s reputations are restored, let’s see if Charity Chic of Charity Chic Music fame fancies ruining his:

“Neil Young is from Canada and has never won Opportunity Knocks. Neil Reid from Glasgow has, with the truly awful ‘Mother of Mine'”

Brace yourselves, folks.

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Neil Reid – Mother of Mine

This, and a subsequent comment by Alyson, led me to do a little digging to see what nuggets I could find out about him. Here’s some factoids, one of which I might need to double-check:

  1. As Alyson quite rightly points out, he is now a financial advisor, in Blackpool
  2. Reid’s self-titled album went to number one in 1972, making him the youngest person to reach the pinnacle of the UK Album Charts, at the age of 12 years 9 months
  3. Said album is one of the very few Number 1 selling albums which has never had an official CD release. I think we all know why that is.
  4. In 2008, he was interviewed by Amanda Holden for ITV’s ‘When Britain First Had Talent’, which pretty much serves him right
  5. In between the end of his solo career and starting his life in the giddy world of finance, he was the third Reid brother in The Jesus & Mary Chain

Please, God, someone suggest something decent.

Rigid Digit, what have you got for us this week?

“Neil Young – intrinsically linked with Crazy Horse (although they’re only on a couple of tracks on After The Goldrush).

 Therefore – Crazy Horse => Crazy Horses (aka The Osmonds “go” Heavy Rock)”

Some of you may not think posting something by The Osmonds is necessarily an improvement, but I beg to differ: when you compare it to the majority of the rest of their turgid output you realise what a surprisingly bloody great record “Crazy Horses”:

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The Osmonds – Crazy Horses

“Crazy Horses” was, as Rigid Digit continues: “later covered by Tank (featuring Algy Ward, previously of The Saints and The Damned)”

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Tank – Crazy Horses

Oh Rigid: you already had me at The Osmonds.

Crazy Horse though – some of you must have some suggestions in that area, surely?

Well, yes, as it goes. Here’s The Great Gog:

“Going for a double link here. Neil Young has made a number of records with Crazy Horse. Ian McNabb has also made a record with members of Crazy Horse. Ian McNabb has also recorded a song that mentions a river that has a famous ferry. That song is of course, “Merseybeast”. Sadly this was the title track of the album after the one he did with Crazy Horse, but perhaps that would have been too perfect a link.

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Ian McNabb – Merseybeast

Nor have there been enough songs to link to Neil Young himself, so here’s a couple of mine. Firstly, a pre-fame daughter of a former Blue Peter presenter, fronting a band who never had much critical acclaim or commercial success, I think mostly down to the wanky way they insisted on spelling their name:

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Theaudience – If You Can’t Do It When You’re Young When Can You Do It?

Time for another seamless link. One of the things you can do when you’re (Neil) Young, is rock up on stage and make an already majestic song just that little bit more majestic:

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R.E.M. (feat. Neil Young) – Country Feedback

We’ll be popping back to some more live stuff in a moment, but first, over to Alyson from What’s It All About, Alfie? with a suggestion and a question which has sparked some great posts by some of our fellow Chain Gangers (go on, treat yourself and click on a few of the links to their blogs if you don’t already visit them regularly):

“From one Neil to another Neil – Diamond to be precise.

Now I have become aware over the weeks that there are people who are just not “cool” to like around these parts and as for Mr Bolton and his very unusual cropped-top/long at the back mullet haircut, I totally agree. Have still to work out where Neil D sits on the scale but personally I have always liked him, (most of) his songs, and his recent stuff. He did also have quite odd hair back in the day but hey, didn’t they all – oh and some very tight trousers.

Anyway Cripple Creek sounds as if it would have been quite a rocky place so if Mr Diamond had been there with the girl of his dreams there would have been “Love On The Rocks”.”

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Neil Diamond – Love on the Rocks

More Neil based fun now – and who can honestly put their hand on their heart and say they haven’t at some time or another had fun whilst Neil-ing? – from The Beard:

“From Neil Young to Neil from The Young Ones. He scored a number two hit in 1984 with his cover of Hole In My Shoe by Traffic.”

I’m assuming from the rest of your suggestion that you want the Neil version, rather than the Traffic jam, right? Excellent!

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Neil – Hole In My Shoe

“It was kept off the top spot”, the Beard continues, “by Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s Two Tribes. The spectre of nuclear war was the theme of that track. The same topic also formed the basis of The Young Ones episode Bomb. Dexy’s Midnight Runners were the musical guests in the episode, playing Jackie Wilson Said (I’m In Heaven When You Smile) which is not, sadly, about a darts player.”

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Dexys Midnight Runners –  Jackie Wilson Said (I’m in Heaven when You Smile)

By the way, does anyone else remember that as being released as Kevin Rowland & Dexys Midnight Runners, as opposed to just Dexys Midnight Runners…? Nope, me neither.

As promised, another live track now, courtesy of kuttowski:

“On ‘After The Goldrush’, Nils Lofgren, a 19 year old guitar player appeared on the scene. In his later career he played with Crazy Horse, Grin and Bruce Springsteen and I suggest his No Mercy.”

This is the version from his pithily-titled “Acoustic Live” album:

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Nils Lofgren – No Mercy

That’s enough Neil-ing, time for some Ferry-ing. Time for two from The Robster from Is This the Life:

“First up [Hey! That’s MY line! – Ed]– taking Neil YOUNG and Cripple Creek FERRY, Young’s Ferry was a historical ferry crossing of the Merced River, located in present day Merced County, California. One of Merced’s famous sons was ‘The King of the Western Swing’ Bob Wills who, along with His Texas Playboys, became one of the top chart acts of the 1930s and 40s. In 1945, they had a #1 country hit with a cover of Zeke Clements’ Smoke On The Water (definitely NOT the same song that Deep Purple recorded two and a half decades later.) This also links water/creek.”

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Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys – Smoke on the Water

“Alternatively, continuing the water theme and linking with the artist name, how about ‘Current Of The River’ by the Young Knives from 2008’s ‘Superabundance’?”

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It’s only after I posted that, that I remembered it’s the closing track on Superabundance, and comes complete with one of those pesky hidden tracks, which is also included in that link. Suffice it to say, this isn’t the one I edited.

Some more restoration of reputations now, as we welcome Charity Chic back:

“I would suggest the gorgeous Ferryman from the lovely Rachel Sermanni”

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Rachel Sermanni – Ferryman

Here’s Dirk from Sexyloser:

“I think I’ll go down the ferry-route, too. Problem is that I can’t really decide between Holly Johnson’s version of ‘Ferry ‘Cross The Mersey’, Ferry Boat Bill’s ‘Sally Goes Downtown’ (I should add that I only have this one on tape, not on vinyl/mp3, does that also count?) and Toy Dolls’ ‘You Won’t Be Merry On A North Sea Ferry’: I think I’ll go for the latter because it’s ace … and I’d like to hear it again!”

Well, that’s pretty lucky because, other than appearing on that single to raise money for the Hillsborough disaster fund back in 1989, I’m not sure Holly Johnson ever recorded a solo version of it, although of course there’s the version on Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s “Welcome to the Pleasuredome” album (I’m open to correction on that, as always), and  I’ve not been able to locate the Ferry Boat Bill track anywhere, so…well…here you go:

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Toy Dolls – You Wont Be Merry on a North Sea Ferry

Over to SWC from When You Can’t Remember Anything:

“The Edmund Fitzgerald was a ferry that sank in Lake Superior in 1975 and was then made subject of a song by one Gordon Lightfoot, a Canadian folk singer.”

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Gordon Lightfoot – The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald

If I may just interrupt for a moment there, before you suggest something we’re all going to regret: if we’re going to start posting songs about boats which sank when carrying large amounts of cargo (Five million hogs, six million dogs, and so on), then surely this has to get an honourable mention:

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The Pogues & The Dubliners – The Irish Rover

Sorry ’bout that, SWC. Do carry on, old chap:

“‘Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald’ was however kept off Number one in the US of A by a certain Rod Stewart and ‘Tonight’s the Night’.”

Insert your own joke about Americans making terrible decisions here, if you like.

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Rod Stewart – Tonight’s The Night

I’d never noticed the vaguely “Je T’Aime…”-esque French lady vocal at the end of that before. Possibly because I’ve never listened to the bloody thing all the way through before.

Time for a fairly straight-forward link from Swiss Adam over at Bagging Area:

“‘The Ferryman (Zeebrugge)’ by Billy Childish and the Singing Loins is my fairly straight-forward link”.

See? Told you it was straight-forward:

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Billy Childish and the Singing Loins – The Ferry Man (Zeebrugge)

Over the past few weeks, you’ll have noticed I’ve tried to include a few video clips into proceedings, but not this week, for I knew that The Swede from Unthought of, Though, Somehow had posted one as part of his suggestion:

“Bugger – kuttowski beat me to it! [with the Nils Lofgren tune] So instead I’ll give a shout out to our local ferry, which crosses the River Yare at Reedham:

By pure coincidence, it’s a chain ferry! So ‘Back on the Chain Gang’ by The Pretenders is my suggestion.”

It’s a record that’s come up before, of course, but since it’s our theme tune here (and since your video clip has brought back memories of many happy family holidays on the Norfolk Broads), it seems a pretty perfect way to round things off this week:

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The Pretenders – Back on the Chain Gang

Which just leaves me to reveal the next record in The Official Chain, and the link that gets us there. And one of you will be kicking yourselves at how close you were:

“Another Neil Young of Manchester City scored the winning goal in the 1969 FA Cup Final. Oasis are well-known Man City fans, hence…”:

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30. Oasis – Live Forever

Bad luck, George.

So, your suggestions for songs (let’s face it, it’ll be plural, won’t it?) which you can link to “Live Forever” by Oasis, via the Comments section below, along with your usual brief descriptions as to what links the two, three, four, however many, records together, in plenty of time for next week’s post.

More soon.

Late Night Stargazing (That Summer Feeling #18)

Tonight, a song which means a lot to me.

Actually, three songs.

Over the past ten years or so, I’ve had the misfortune to spend some time unemployed. When you’re around the 40-mark, this is a scary place to be.

Needless to say, it was an incredibly demoralising situation. My jobless times happened to correspond with summer weather, but I can assure you, the last thing you feel like doing is going out and passing the time sunbathing.

The first time it happened, I had just moved from Cardiff to Cheltenham. I’d landed a job with a firm of solicitors, and had been commuting between the two cities for three months whilst I worked out my probation period. Just before that three month period was up, I was called into the office by the MD, told I was doing great and encouraged to make the move to Cheltenham. Which I did, finding a decent two bedroom flat I could afford, and moving in as fast as I could.

No more than a couple of weeks later, I was called into the office again by the main partner of the firm – who had interviewed me, and given me the positon because of my background in insurance – who promptly “let me go” (which sounds so much nicer than “fired”) because I was “too Insurance-y” and because they’d hired people from an insurance background before and “it had never worked”. So: fired for the exact reason I’d been hired. Cheers for that.

There followed an extended period of unemployment, where I was stranded high and dry in a town where there were no prospects, and where I knew nobody (bar one girl, Emily, who I had befriended when she was a rollie-smoking temp at the same firm, summarily dismissed in much the same way as I) until I finally landed a job which allowed me to get the fuck out of Cheltenham and on to London. (As it goes, a year later I got made redundant from that job. I was really on a roll, or as my brother summarised in one phone call “Jesus, you just can’t catch a break at the moment, can you?”)

Anyway, tonight’s song was played quite a lot during the darker hours which occurred during that period of nothingness:

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Emiliana Torrini – Unemployed in Summertime

Categorically, this is not how unemployment treated me. It was a horrid, hollow, vacuous experience, where the only person I spoke to face to face was my counsellor, once a fortnight, at the Job Centre. It was not all sitting on Primrose Hill doing magazine sex quizzes.

There are two more songs, which articulate the pit I was in at the time, both suitable for posting here. Firstly, this, possibly one of the most depressing records you’ll ever hear, dealing as it does with rejection, depression, suicide, and the death of your parents:

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Gilbert O’Sullivan – Alone Again (Naturally)

Cheery stuff, no? But perfect for late night contemplation.

And then there was this, a song about loneliness and depression, but penned in a defiant, triumphant manner:

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Neil Diamond – I Am…I Said

I would sing along, supplementing the word “Cardiff” for “New York”, and “Cheltenham” for “L.A.”, which, with the benefit of hindsight, didn’t scan so well, if I’m honest.

Ordinarily, I’m a fairly happy-go-lucky, laid back, nothing really fazes me kind of chap, but I’m sure anyone who knew me and was in contact with me in those times would confirm that’s certainly not how I was then. I may have fronted it up, but I was miserable. Had I been to see my GP and explained, I think I could easily have been diagnosed with depression.

Happy to report, though, all is well now. A friend of mine, Holmesy (hello! and thank you!), regularly tells me now how good it is to have “the old me” back, which is just lovely to hear, but the fact he feels the need to say it is a marker for just how down and insular I became.

By the way, I should make it clear that I could never have got through those months without the support of my family and friends. My folks for helping me with the financial problems that being on Job Seeker’s Allowance (which just about covered all of my bills, after which, if I was lucky, I might have enough left over to buy food) inevitably brings; my friends – and Hel in particular – for just saying “Come and see us. We’ll pay. We want you to be here with us.” I can never thank any of you enough.

On top of that, writing this helps. So to anyone who has ever commented or tweeted me because of something I’ve written here: thank you. It really means a lot.

Ahem. *Pulls himself together*

I guess what I’m trying to say is: just because it’s sunny outside, don’t assume everyone is happy inside.

More (and hopefully less depressing) soon.