So, having mentioned that it’s the 30th anniversary of Primal Scream’s Screamadelica last weekend, I guess I should mention at least one of the other ground-breaking albums that came out the same year. (There were quite a few, as it goes.)
If you listen to either BBC 6Music or, perhaps a little more surprisingly, BBC Radio 2, it can’t have escaped your attention that this weekend sees the 30th anniversary of the release of Nirvana’s genre-defining Nevermind album.
I’m not sure that there’s anything I can say about this record that hasn’t already been said, except maybe this: in the mid-90s we were asked to choose between Blur and Oasis as Britpop hit peak momentum, but back in 1991 it was perfectly acceptable to like both Screamaelica and Nevermind, never mind (see what I did there) that these were records at opposite ends of the spectrum.
Which is a tad ironic, given that Nevermind is credited with spearheading the grunge movement, which the Britpop movement was, so we’re told, a direct reaction to. “The Kids” may have been dressing in scruffy jeans a plaid shirts, but it just wasn’t British enough, hence the subsequent reaction and rise of bands like Suede, Blur and oh-go-on-then Oasis, bands quintessentially British in all they did.
But that paints a picture of grunge not really taking hold, and that’s not true either. Because for a brief moment in 1991, there was an overlap, and it was perfectly acceptable amongst the yoof to love both, and to interact with the records differently.
It’s really tough to choose a song from Nevermind to post this morning, but I got a steer yesterday afternoon, listening to 6Music when they played this and, having not listened to the album for several years, I was transported back to when I first heard the album, lost for breath at the fact that there is not one duff song on Nevermind, as this – not a single – which I turned up loudly when it got played yesterday, amply demonstrates:
Apart from the fact that – and I appreciate this won’t endear me to the die-hard fans – that’s a great catchy-as-hell (pop) record, it’s that bit when it rises to a crescendo and then crashes back in that I really love.
Yes, like a toddler who has just finished doing his business but doesn’t know how to wipe his own bottom yet, I stand before you, poking my arse in your general direction, innocent eyes pleading for assistance (I must say, this analogy works loads more than I expected it to), and announcing: The Chain is back!
Yes, I thought I’d have been a bit more prolific in writing these during “lockdown” too. What do you want me to say? I’m not Cher, I can’t turn back time.
Truth be told I’ve got a little too involved with two things recently: firstly, trimming down duplicate songs on my iTunes which prevent me from updating my iPod with anything I’ve acquired in the last twelve months or so; and secondly a DJ-mixing app which I’m determined to get to grips with so you can have some proper mixes by yours truly (which I’m sure you’re absolutely crying out for).
That aside, I’ll start with a recap: last time out, we were left with this as our source record:
Ordinarily, the easiest way to come up with a suggestion is to link to any of the words in the title or the artiste (this isn’t a criticism, it’s how I come up with about 90% of my own suggestions), but when you’ve only got three words to work with, it makes things tricky, and some serious creativity (by which I mean showboating) is needed.
So, in terms of a running order this time around, I thought I’d work through the suggestions which link to Donovan, then to Mellow, then to Yellow, and then we’ll all crash back onto our beds as we climax with those that have drilled down a little deeper, so to speak.
But first: a spoiler. Well, two actually. Firstly, nobody suggested the next record in the actual Chain this time around, and secondly there is no Showboater of the Week award this time. Don’t get me wrong, there’s some great records about to cross your path, ingeneously reached, but nothing quite point-worthy (Does anyone know where George, the Undisputed King of Showboating, is, by the way?).
There is most definitely a Worst Record of the Week award. In fact, it’s arguably the worst record I’ve ever posted, and I’ve posted The Wurzels before now (and will do again!).
OK, so let’s kick off with the Donovan related stuff. And where better to start than with something from Rol of My Top Ten fame who seems to have become my standard person to start with, even if his first suggestion this time around was somewhat confrontational:
“Do we also lose points if we mention Jason Donovan? Surely history has been kinder to him that Coldplay?”
I should explain. I signed off the last edition of The Chain with the words: “Minus points to anyone who suggests Coldplay. You’ve been warned.” This was intended not so much as a slur against the band, even though I do think they’re absolute dog-shit (through-gritted teeth: with a couple of admittedly decent songs in their back catalogue that they’ve inadvertently stumbled upon).
Besides, I was rather surprised at Rol’s reticence to suggest a bit of Jason Donovan, given that many years ago, noting my “There’s no such thing as a guilty pleasure” tagline, he had reached out to me for a bit of support in justifying…I won’t say his love of, nor admiration, but…the fact that he quite liked some records by Erinsborough’s second finest pop star (and no, Stefan Dennis is not the first). I duly responded with a post explaining why liking Jason Donovan records is perfectly acceptable, which, since I seem to be a little short of clips and funnies this time out, included this:
Anyway, after much to-ing and fro-ing, Rol was placated by me saying I’d happily post something by the definitely-not-lemon-juice-haired-Aussie wonder, so here we go. And a further explanatory word from Rol:
“I do remember thinking Too Many Broken Hearts was a half decent pop song, even at the time (and I generally hated everything SAW did). Plus, I saw Jason in the War of the Worlds stage show a few years ago and he was much better than Marti Pellow.
And before you ask: no, that’s not the worst record of the week. Not by a long chalk. (Is that a phrase? ‘Tis now.)
So, who else came up with a suggestion to the word Donovan? Well, now’s the time for the fevered mind that is Rigid Digit (the man responsible for all that appears on Stuff & Nonsense), to step up to the plate with his first suggestion, which whilst it links to the Donovan name, gives us a good steer as to the waters we may well find ourselves paddling in later:
“Donovan could’ve become Father-in-Law to a Mr S Ryder from Manchester.
His daughter Oriole shacked up with Shaun, and gave birth to one of his (many) daughters.
And if it wasn’t Shaun, then Donovan’s other daughter was knocking about with Paul Ryder.
The Happy Mondays had the song “Donovan” on Pills n Thrills & Bellyaches (which also samples a bit of Sunshine Superman).
Ok, that’ll do for Donovan/Jason Donovan links. Let’s move on to links to the word Mellow. And it’s back to Rol, who, still somewhat reticent and tail between his legs for the Jason Donovan situation, came back with this as a very strong contender:
“Mellow Birds was a particularly rank brand of Instant Coffee that was popular when we were growing up and therefore became my first experience of coffee… which I promptly decided I didn’t like much and stuck to tea. It took me years to try coffee again and see the error of my ways.
Anyway, here are two songs that link vaguely to that….”
I imagine you will all know that McCartney was due to headline on the Saturday night at Glastonbury this year, until bloody Covid-19 ruined everything. Not that I had a ticket, mind. But as previously mentioned elsewhere on these pages, I was fortunate enough to see him there when he headlined in 2004. He played Blackbird that night, I thought at about the second or third song, but trusty songlist.fm tells me it was tenth in the set. Either way, I remember it as we all sang along, realising what a special set I was watching.
Indulge me for a moment:
Apart from all the deaths and distrust that Covid-19 has brought, I think it’s important that we remember and recognise the cultural impact too.
Anyway, where next?
Well, in case you haven’t been paying attention, we’re still on the section where we’re looking at songs which link to the word Mellow, so what else have we got?
Over to the phoenix from the flames that is The Robster, who I’m sure we can all agree we’re delighted to see has been coaxed out of semi-retirement to start posting again over at Is This The Life which currently has an angry but sad tribute to the man who wrote the song the blog is named after, Tim Smith of Cardiacs. I urge you to read it it, and if you don’t know the music of Cardiacs, follow The Robster’s suggestions. He knows his stuff.
As you will see shortly, Rob has done that age-old trick of mentioning but not really suggesting songs, knowing full well that I won’t be able to resist and will end up posting everything he utters. That was at the end of the line of a series of “Well, there’s this…but no…or this…but nah…” mentions which, true to form, will pop up later. (This is not a criticism, by the way.)
Next up is Swiss Adam from bagging area; now to be fair, this is the third of his suggestions (the others will be along shortly), hence it’s brevity:
“Mellow Gold, Beck. He’s a loser baby so why don’t you kill him?”
There’s another reason I’ve posted that next, and that’s because I figured we could all do with a ruddy good sing-a-long. I’m right, right?
Actually, that’s the first time I’ve listened to that in God knows how many years, and I had a flash-back to singing it at junior school. I, ever desperate to get a laugh out of my friends, would perform the call-back bits in the final verse, paper-and-comb-in-mouth voice and all. I remember our headmaster, face knotted in fury, stalking along the lines of children, trying to locate the source of some unexpected joy, which was not of course permitted. He never caught me (for that). But looking back, what a desperate for attention little squirt I was back then, says the man who writes a music blog in his 50s, as if he’s changed.
Over now to PhonicPat“Here we go, linking the yellow I’ve gone for a a cautionary tale for everybody…”
…because ‘if yellow is mellow…’ and it is a great song.“
Indeed it is, and one filled with memories for me, for it was a song we used to perform in the band I was in at college. We loved it for it was easy to learn: three chords, a drumfill and lots of thrashing our instruments within an inch of their lives. I tried to explain that most Quo records met at least two of those criteria, but my protestations fell on ironically deaf ears.
I mention this now because there exists some recordings of us playing live, done through the mixing desk and they are, without question, hilarious, for all the wrong, unintended reasons. I’m hopeful that the lead singer can locate said tapes so I can convert them to mp3s to post here, and we can all have a jolly good laugh. Watch this space.
Carrying on with the Yellow theme for now, and I’ll hand you back to Nathan, who has a couple of ideas in this area:
“…McCartney/Beatles connection…Yellow connection…vague drug reference a la “Mellow Yellow”…a three-fer?
I admire your enthusiasm Nathan, but sorry, no. The source record isn’t by McCartney or The Beatles, and as for the drug reference, well, we’ll come to that soon enough.
In the meantime, you’ll recall I mentioned earlier The Robster’s cunning plan where he names a lot of records that he isn’t suggesting, knowing full well I won’t be able to resist posting all of them. Time to revisit. Brace yourself, for here we go:
“Where do I start with this one? Yellow? Too easy..:”
I’ve deliberately not picked the original of that one. Click the link and you’ll see why (it’s beautiful). And I don’t just mean because it’s not the Counting Crows version.
Anyway, as you were Robster:
” ‘…Yellow Submarine…’ ” (We’ve had that!) “…I could go on. And on and on…” (I know, I’ve read your blog (just kidding!) received emails from you extolling the virtues of Newport Town FC). “So one that some people might not know is…”
But The Robster hasn’t finished yet. Oh no. Here he comes with his link to Donovan, which should have featured ages ago but I can’t be bothered with going back and putting it in its rightful place.
Go on then Robbo, fill yer boots:
“I’m going back to brilliant cartoons. Donovan once played himself in an episode of Futurama, which has a character called Fry. The wonderful Stephen Fry (credited as Prof. Joseph Yupik) lent his voice to the title track of (the even more wonderful) Kate Bush’s 50 Words For Snow album.”
Yes, it’s almost August, but here’s a song about snow:
Which, fortuitously, leads me nicely onto the final category: all things Donovan-trivia related and associated rudeness.
But before we go there, a couple of the more obtuse suggestions. The Chain Gang may remember that for the past two episodes, The Great Gog has been obsessed with the county of Hampshire. Now, he has a new fixation:
“We move now to Hampstead. The Mellow Yellow album features a track entitled Hampstead Incident. I can think of only two other songs that include this part of North London in their titles:
“(Released in 1987 and 1988 respectively – clearly a time when this area was inspiring Britain’s songwriters)”
Wise words, great mate.
Back then, before the final push, to Swiss Adam from Bagging Area:
“Husker Du, legendary indie punk pioneers covered a Donovan song, Sunshine Superman in 1983. In fairly breakneck style. I’ve just scrolled up and seen another reference to that song but not the Du’s cover. They also covered the theme to the Mary Tyler Moore Show…which is ace but doesn’t really link to mellow or yellow.“
Yeh, but it’s the kind of almost showboating that I mentioned earlier, so I’ll allow it:
I think we left Rigid Digit mid-flow a little earlier, so perhaps we should check back in on him:
” ‘…Pills…” is probably the Mondays high point – it’s a bit of a mess after that, and the next album was a bit a a damp squib. They had it, they lost it, and Tony Wilson probably thought it was great art to fail in this manner (and drag his record company down with them). But … Shaun returned with Black Grape proving he still had it (not sure he’s got “it” now – he’s already been on the Help I’m Stuck In The Jungle, Can I Have A Career? thing on ITV, and is probably second or third reserve for a place on The One Show sofa)..”
You haven’t watched him and Bez on Celebrity Gogglabox, I’m guessing. In case there was any doubt, Bez is shown to not be the sharpest tool in the box. Not that there was much debate in this area beforehand. This is a man who is so simple he managed to get himself disqualified for cheating on Celebrity Bargain Hunt. Sadly, we will never know if he’s like he is now because of the vast amount of drugs he took in the (I hate to narrow it down, but let’s say) late 1980s to early/mid 1990s. I think we can hazard a guess. As for Shaun, for a man who claims to have given everything up, his face is a very odd shade of bright pink. It’s almost like he’s self-glazing. Neither know how to complete a sentence without liberal use of the F-word. Not that I object to this, but come on guys, just one phrase without it, please.
Before we go any further, some background knowledge which you will need to have if what’s to follow is going to make any kind of sense. So have a read of this, which I have pilfered from wiki:
The song was rumoured to be about smoking dried banana skins, which was believed to be a hallucinogenic drug in the 1960s, though this aspect of bananas has since been debunked. According to Donovan’s notes, accompanying the album Donovan’s Greatest Hits, the rumour that one could get high from smoking dried banana skins was started by Country Joe McDonald in 1966, and Donovan heard the rumour three weeks before “Mellow Yellow” was released as a single. According to The Rolling Stone Illustrated Encyclopedia of Rock and Roll, he admitted later the song made reference to a vibrator; an “electrical banana” as mentioned in the lyrics. This definition was re-affirmed in an interview with NME magazine: “it’s about being cool, laid-back, and also the electrical bananas that were appearing on the scene – which were ladies’ vibrators.”
So, to be clear, I have allowed songs which relate to the smoking of illicit substances as that is generally, if inaccurately, assumed to be what the song is about, but none can acquire points. Sadly, since my Mother will be reading this and I’ll have to look her in the eye again at some point, I also have to include any suggestions linked to Lady Love Toys too.
Let’s tantrically wait a while before we submit to the buzzing suggestions which involve items of self pleasure, and we’ll hear from long time-blog faithful, but (I think) first time Chain contributor, Lynchie Fae Enburdeeen:
“Donovan’s “Mellow Yellow” includes the verse:
“Electrical banana Is gonna be a sudden craze
Electrical banana Is bound to be the very next phase”
Which leads me on to the greatest marijuana songs ever written – performed by the fabulous twin lead guitar band Man, who would occasionally perform this song with a full Welsh male voice choir.
I had, and still have, no idea if it’s true that that’s Saffron or not. It doesn’t sound like her to me. But I’m letting it in with no fact-checking because if it’s not true, then it deserves admission just for the balls-out nerve of making such a claim up.
But whilst we’re on the subject of Saffron, here’s Nathan again:
How about Saffron – singer for Republica…Republica doing…:
“During these days of lockdown I’ve been threatening to get my guitar down from the loft and serenade the neighbours. Problem is I only ever got to song number two in my “Teach Yourself Guitar” book, which was (I’ll get to the point trust me) Catch The Wind by Donovan. For years I used to mix up that song and his other one Colours, to come up with Colours Of The Wind which is an entirely different affair from the Disney film Pocahontas, but the next song certainly won’t be that one.
As a follow up I’m going to go for Worst Song suggestion – Donovan also recorded Sunshine Superman. Superman was the name of a novelty record by Black Lace which had been originally recorded by two Italians with the title Gioca Jouer. To quote from wiki: ‘The song featured a number of dance gestures that acted out the lyrics – including sleeping, waving, hitching a ride, sneezing, walking, swimming, skiing, spraying deodorant, sounding a horn, ringing a bell, flexing muscles as a “Macho Man”, making the letters “OK”, blowing kisses, combing and flying like Superman.‘”
Brace yourself. This is unspeakably awful, and fully deserving of the only points I’m dishing out this time for Worst Record:
…which was selected because Donovan and Bono share a birthday.
I know. Rubbish, right?
Anyway, you know the drill: submit your suggestions for songs that link to Beuatiful Day by U2 via the Comments section below, or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org and eventually I’ll get round to writing the next instalment.
A fleeting reference to Kurt Cobain on Saturday, and here we are on Tuesday, listening to a song by a band he loved, and covered.
I wish I could pretend I was cool and had loved them for years, but truth be told I bought The Way of the Vaselines: A Complete History after being nudged in their direction by Cobain, but that doesn’t stop me from giving you the original artwork to the single. (I’ve no idea where said CD is now, I guess I must have lent it to somebody and not got it back.)
Nirvana covered this, of course. I wish I could pretend I was cool and had loved them for years before they got famous, but truth be told I bought Incesticide, the early singles, B-sides and off-curs after being nudged in their direction by the brilliance of Nevermind, but that doesn’t stop me from giving you the original artwork to the single. (Disclaimer: I have no idea if this is the original artwork or not, it probably isn’t, I just found it online.)
It’s fair to say that the two versions are very different stylistically. Personally, I think the Nirvana version could be enriched by moving the clown’s car horn honk from The Vaselinest on to it, but what do I know?
The first thing I want to say today is thank you, for all the good wishes after my last post, especially to the couple of “lurkers” (their choice of words!) who’d never left a comment before but wanted to show some support. The rest of you guys are used to offering support in my times of woe, so y’know…still appreciated, but it’s a big deal for non-bloggers to stick their heads above the parapet – so thank you to you all.
The second thing, I guess, is how I’m doing. Well, better, is the answer to that; I still have an annoying cough, but the high temperature has gone and I’ve not strayed into the territory of being short of breath, any more so than usual.
So I’m not sure that I’ve had “it”; that said, whether I have or not, I do think I’ve done the right thing by taking myself out of circulation. Indeed, the day after I decided not to go to work, I learned that there had been one confirmed case in my office, along with a couple of people who, like me, were showing some of the signs so the decision was made that all in my department should work from home for the time being.
Much as I disagree with much of the Government’s handling of this crisis, and at the risk of sounding like I’m trying to score political points here because Boris has been – well, I’d like to say unbelievably here, but he’s been exactly as we expected: an idiot of King Canute proportions, trying to turn back the tide of a virus with catchphrases; isn’t “Turn The Tide” just a little bit too close to “Get Brexit Done”? – believably shit, the one thing they did get right was to recommend that, if you can, you work from home, avoid contact with anyone else, self-isolate, irrespective of whether or not you have any of the symptoms.
Anyway, how have I filled my days since Wednesday I hear you mumble into a scarf pulled across your chops? Well, with quite a lot of snoozing in front of the telly, it has to be said. But also listening to some podcasts – truly the BBC have upped their game and shown exactly why it is essential they do not become a subscription only service – and watching some TV shows and films that I love. On Friday, I watched two of my favourite films: Shaun of the Dead, which incredibly ITV2 isn’t showing at the moment, and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, both of which I’ll probably return to talk about at some point.
Tonight there’s a documentary about Maradona on Channel 4 which is probably worth a watch, along with the final episode of Hidden on BBC4, which I won’t bang on about as I’m biased because my friend Sian (who many of you sponsored to do the London Marathon last year) stars in it, and (she, and it) is just utterly, utterly brilliant.
But you won’t be surprised to learn that I’ve also spent quite a while thinking about appropriate songs for our current situation, and so, well here you go: fourteen apt songs to keep you reasonably occupied
And to start off, a man who claims to understand the joys of self-isolation, but who in reality probably would have sent out a couple of hoods via his Mafia connections to sort out this corona wise guy:
The message that we’re trying to get across here is that, irrespective of what symptoms you may or may may not have, your time would be much better spent staying at home rather than clearing the shelves down at your local supermarket of their staple foods:
Whilst she may have a valid point, nobody is going to take seriously anyone who gives their ascribed profession as their surname. It’d be like me telling you my name is Jez Insurance Officer, or Boris demanding to be called Boris Prime Minister (although given what his actual surname is slang for, this might be preferable), or Clarkson insisting he be referred to as Jeremy Denim-Bigot.
Perhaps, just perhaps (given that it came out in 1999) this isn’t the clarion call to stay home that we want it to be. How do we know that “Alice” doesn’t have any of the symptoms we’ve all come to know and over-identify? There’s only one group qualified to ask such a question:
Now, irrespective of whether Alice is or is not showing any of the symptoms, it’s important that she – and you, yes you – takes themselves out of the loop for a while. If you’re not exposed to it, then you can’t catch or spread it – it’s not a difficult concept, right?
What you need to convince you is somebody who shot their own face off in a downward spiral of herion and depression, right? Right!
No? Ok, so how about something from an album of acts covering/trying out Brian Wilson songs under his tutelage, who are so good, they don’t even make the list of artists on the front sleeve of the very album they feature on?
Sometimes, you have to look for the silver lining with global crises, and I think we can find one here. For finally, we find a use for a song from R.E.M.’s just-about-above-average Up album, for it’s not just ‘something’ that’s in the air….:
So, the best way to fight this is to self-isolate, to avoid contact with anybody else. As a result, I imagine there’s quite a few porn sites which have suddenly experienced an increase in traffic. The ladies on Babestation (er…probably…) are knackered this morning, having had to ‘talk’ to more drunk blokes back from The ‘Spoons than they’re used to.
I doubt that’s what Billy Steinberg and Tom Kelly had in mind when they wrote this next song; I’d imagine that a global pandemic and the domino-effect on to the adult entertainment industry probably barely crossed their mind, which is why this plea is so mis-placed. But who can resist a power ballad right now? Appropriate your own pretend microphone now please!
We now know the answer to the question: How do I get you alone? Answer: wave some unsullied bog roll at them. Job’s a good ‘un.
Now don’t take the title of this next song too seriously. It’s just here to add some class to proceedings. Just because you’re alone at home does not necessarily mean you’re lonely. You’re doing a good thing.
And besides, none of us can call upon the likes of Willie Nelson to dash out a quick duet anyway, so suck it up:
One group, if any of them were still alive, who would probably not follow the rules are this lot, who nonetheless wrote this, not their finest moment, granted, but any excuse to slip a little Gabba Gabba Hey! into your daily routine should be celebrated (Disclaimer: they do not say Gabba Gabba Hey! on this song):
So whilst you can’t touch your own face, or anybody else, what can you touch? Well all I can do here is refer you to the over-worked (so I’m told) Babestation ladies and Divinyls, who combined may have the answer:
Every ounce of my being wanted to scream: “Thursday night is The Apprentice night. Of course I’m busy!” but I bit my tongue.
“Fancy coming to see the Hackney Colliery Band with me?”
I do love it when an unexpected offer like this comes out of the blue, and it turns out that love outweighs my love of watching wannabe business folk trying to sell snorkel gear, jet-skis and bijoux boats, and all of the smutty water-sports gags that involves.
And so off I traipsed to Village Underground in Shoreditch, a venue which looks amazing but where seats, a well staffed bar and personal space seemed to be alien concepts. Hipster beards though? Got ’em in abundance, thanks very much.
We stood and watched the support act, whose name I seem to have deliberately obliterated from my mind or I’d warn you to avoid them, unless you like the sort of bland coffee-table acid jazz that went out of fashion with Morcheeba and the Brand New Heavies.
Hackney Colliery Band were a class act though. Promoting their “Sharpener” album, they treated us to a load of songs that I didn’t know but which sounded great, and, as with the The Williams Fairey Brass Band who featured in The Chain recently, a fair amount of unusual cover versions.
These were pretty diverse; there was Kwab’s “Wrong or Right” (no, me neither), Bowie’s “Heroes”, a Prodigy medley (a staple of their live shows, I believe), and then this, an absolute highlight for me:
I’ve mentioned to a couple of people that I went to see Hackney Colliery Band, and almost without fail their response has been “There isn’t/never has been a colliery in Hackney”. Search them on YouTube and you will inevitably find the same comment posted by some smart arse.
Well, no there isn’t. But then again, there aren’t really any monkeys in the artic, roses aren’t actually made of stone, The Soup Dragons weren’t comprised of Oliver Postgate models, and there is nobody with the surname Smith in The Smiths; if you can get over all of those intellectual hurdles then you can get your head round the idea that they’re not actually a colliery band.
Anyway, I would thoroughly recommend going to see Hackney Colliery Band if you fancy seeing something a bit different, but be warned: as brass bands go, they are very different beast to this lot:
Since it’s Children in Need night here in the UK, it seems only right and proper that I give you the cover of that done by the much missed host of the aforementioned charity-a-thon, Sir Terry Wogan, yet another sad casualty of 2016, who this week was rightly commemorated by the renaming of the BBC Radio 2 building as “Wogan House”:
…is the new name for the “Apropos of Nothing” thread, which I’ve felt slightly disingenuous about using for a while now, since pretty much every time I’ve posted something in there, it’s because I’ve been reminded of whatever I’m posting, usually by something else I’ve posted recently.
Such is the case today.
Dutch band (seriously, I seem to have gone all EU over the past few posts; that’s Dutch, Austrian and Slovenian acts I’ve featured recently. Still, I suppose it is Eurovision next weekend, so perhaps I should make the effort…) Shocking Blue are perhaps best known for this song from 1970, which sounds like a cross between ? & the Mysterons’ “96 Tears” and The Archies’ “Sugar, Sugar”:
Every teenage lad growing up in the UK in the 1980s fancied one of Bananarama, and my teenage crush (one of many, obviously) was on Keren (the one in the middle). She, however, only had eyes for talented guys like her long term partner, Andrew Ridgeley. Otherwise, I’d have stood a chance, obviously. Ridgeley, in case you’re wondering, is, of course, better known for being the half of Wham! that wasn’t George Michael. Shuttlecocks ahoy!
A couple of years later, in 1990, the song was a hit again, this time a practically instrumental version, released by dance producers The BHF (which I thought was a Roald Dahl story, but which apparently stands for Bisiach Hornbostel Ferrucci) under the slightly catchier – but only slightly, mind – moniker of Don Pablo’s Animals:
Rumours that they decided not to release the single under the name The BHF because it was a little too similar to BHS and they were worried in case “Sir” Philip Green bought them, asset stripped them and then sold them for £1, leaving the British taxpayer to pick up the bill for the £400 million shortfall on the pension fund, are completely unfounded.
However, it wasn’t just cheesy pop acts and dance remixers who fell under the spell of Shocking Blue. Here, from their 1969 “At Home” album is a song which will be familiar to many plaid-shirted grungesters:
Evening all. Welcome back to this week’s selections.
For once, I’ve got a fairly busy social life this weekend, starting with a night out with some old friends on Friday Night, so this week’s choices feel a little strange to me, since I’m actually writing this in the middle of the week, and not on Friday as I normally do. This shouldn’t have much of an impact, or so you’d think, but I wonder…
For a start, I don’t have that Friday night, no work for a couple of days, vibe. More importantly, I have a strict “no drinking on a school night” rule, so this is being written stone cold sober. Let’s see how it pans out shall we?
So, much the same as when we went loud at the start of the year to shake off those post-Christmas blues, I thought I’d do much the same after last week’s Country choices, if for no other reason than to prove I haven’t forgotten that this series is supposed to be, well, fun.
The lead single from what sadly turned out to be their last album, 2011’s “Hot Sauce Committee Part Two”, I was surprised when writing this to find out that this didn’t even chart in the UK. In fact, none of the singles from the album did. I was of the opinion that the Beasties were a little more popular on this side of the pond, but I guess I was wrong about that.
Released in April 2011, it was soon over-shadowed by the death of Adam “MCA” Yauch in May 2012. The world is a poorer place with no new records by the Beastie Boys, in my book.
Anyway, this is supposed to be cheering us up and straight away I seem to be back talking about dead musicians. That’s the last one for this week, I promise.
*Scans the rest of the week’s selections*
Okay, maybe not quite the last one.
This lot, for example, may only have made one decent record (that I know of anyway) but they’re thankfully all still on this mortal coil. I think. Haven’t checked, if I’m honest.
This record has a special memory for me. Before I moved to London eight or so years ago, I came up for New Year’s Eve one year, a night which started out with a few drinks, then moved to The Garage, an indie club and venue in Highbury where two of our friends, Spencer and Ruth, had managed to bag themselves a DJ slot (if my memory serves, the prestigious “over midnight” one, although I’m open to correction on that).
This was the first record they played, and the two of them bounced all over the stage like two excited Tiggers throughout.
After their set, they came and joined us on the dancefloor, and I interrupted Ruth to give her a big hug, planted a kiss on her cheek and told her how ace I thought they’d been, how much fun I’d had and how proud I was of them. Ruth gave me what I can only describe as a look of happiness, a little embarrassment, more than a little confusion, and no small amount of terror.
It was only afterwards that I realised that when I referred to them earlier as being “our friends”, that wasn’t entirely accurate; they were friends of my friends, and I’d never actually met either of them before. I had managed to forget this teensy bit of information. Yes, I was that battered.
Anyway, I managed to explain, and eventually she told security that they didn’t need to pin me to the floor and sit on my head anymore, and we all saw the funny side.
This next song was also in their set that night, and is a staple of the very occasional DJ’ing gigs I get these days:
Ever wondered what the “W.K.” stands for? Well I have it on good authority that it stands for “Wildebeest King”. Apparently, as a young man Andrew became a bit obsessed with wildebeest, after he read that they are noisy creatures; bulls have an array of loud vocalizations, from moans to explosive snorts, not unlike Andrew’s own repertoire.
So obsessed is Andrew, that every May he travels to the mineral-rich grasses of the southern Serengeti (you know, where Kilimanjaro rises up like Mount Olympus) to witness the wildebeest mating season, and to feast his eyes on their annual displays of showmanship, cavorting, standoffs, and the odd head to head tussle. Often he will don a set of curved plastic horns, smear his face with mud, and roll around in wildebeest dung so that he becomes infused with their odour, their very essence. Then, from as close but as safe a distance as he dare get, he will mimic their actions, ideally from behind a bush, until he has them as accurate as possible. He then tries to incorporate these movements into his energetic stage performances.
(above: Andrew Wildebeest King, The Serengeti, May 2012)
Okay, I made all that up. In reality, his full name is Andrew Fetterly Wilkes-Krier, but since that’s the least rock’n’roll name in the history of rock’n’roll names, you can’t really blame him for changing it. Or me for trying.
“Party Hard” has had a new lease of life recently, after it featured in the ad campaign for Google and Android. According to The Wildebeest King’s Mr W.K.’s website: “The song highlights the individuality yet collective spirit of play and fun and partying featured in the ad.” which sounds like a load of old PR-bollocks to me.
Ordinarily, I wouldn’t post a link to an advert on here, but I think on this occasion I’ll make an exception. Watch this and then tell me if you think the ad demonstrates “the individuality yet collective spirit of play and fun and partying” or if it’s actually just a collection of clips of people pretending to be normal and who wouldn’t know an Andrew W.K. record if it walked up to them and introduced itself to them with the words “Hello. I am an Andrew W. K. record. Apparently you like to play and have fun with me”.
Far more entertaining, is the fact that “Party Hard” is used as the walk-on music for professional darts player Steve Hine. Not heard of him? Well, his track record of impressive appearances at the PDC World Championship speaks for itself. Look:
In 2006, he got knocked out in the 1st Round by Chris “Mace the Ace” Mason
In 2007, he didn’t qualify
In 2008, he got knocked out in the 1st Round by Mark “Flash” Dudbridge
In 2009, he didn’t qualify
In 2010, he got to the 2nd Round, where he got beaten 4-0 by Phil “The Power” Taylor
Normality was restored in 2011, though, when he got knocked out in the first round by Raymond “Barney” van Barneveld
Now. I don’t profess to be either a darts fan or expert (I do know that both Phil “The Power” Taylor and Raymond “Barney” van Barneveld are a bit good at darts – by which I mean I’ve heard of them – so maybe I shouldn’t take the piss), but I think I know what Steve’s problem is.
You’ll have noticed that all of the above have Darts Player Nicknames. Steve Hine has one too. His is Steve “The Muffin Man” Hine, and he is well known for bringing muffins and tossing them to the crowd during his walk-on.
I imagine that doesn’t exactly strike fear into the hearts of his opponents.
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club were originally called The Elements, until they realised that a) that’s not a very good name for a band, and, more pertinently, b) there already was a band called The Elements, so they changed it, naming themselves after Marlon Brando’s motorcycle gang in the 1953 movie “The Wild One” which, needless to say, is a waaay cooler name.
Although, had they kept their original science-y nerdo name, it would have made it a lot easier for me to link it to the next record:
According to Wikipedia, Placebo are a “British alternative rock band”. I always thought they were American, but it turns our that they formed after lead singer Brian Molko met bassist/guitarist Stefan Olsdal by chance outside South Kensington tube station.
Molko, however, was born in Brussels to a Scottish Catholic mother and an American father of French-Italian descent, and lived at various points in his youth in Dundee (which, admittedly, he refers to as “where I grew up”), Liberia, Lebanon and Belgium. He attended The European School of Luxembourg and the International School of Luxembourg. You don’t get much more British than that, right?
I suspect the band were worried about losing some of their more UKIP-y fans if they announced their true roots.
In the words of Stewart Lee: “If you’ve not seen me before, I don’t think that. I think the opposite of that.” (I’m not Morrissey, for fuck’s sake) He delivers it may better than me though:
Please do not watch that if you are easily offended. Or if you’re American (although the pay-off might pleasantly surprise you). Plenty of swears, and as you will gather from the title of it, it’s not exactly Light Entertainment.
Sacrilege time. I don’t really like Pearl Jam much. Friends of mine border on being obsessed by them, but I’ve always found Eddie Vedder’s voice a little grating, and have always thought the band were one of many far less talented groups who hung onto the plaid shirt-tails of Nirvana. I appreciate this is not a common opinion. Each to their own, eh?
That said, “Do The Evolution” has a groove about it that I’ve never noticed in any other records by them, and is well worth a listen if you don’t know it, or even if you do.
Another band who seemed to arrive on our shores at around the same time are the next lot, although they do have a lot more tunes that I love. This is from their 1991 debut album “Gish”, and I don’t think they’ve ever bettered it:
Ah well, since I mentioned Nirvana in passing, I’d be rude, bordering on ignorant, not to post something by them, right? Here then is the first record I ever heard by them. It is 1990, my buddy Keith and I are in Cardiff Student Union’s Hanging Gardens club. Fuelled by Snakebite, we had ventured on to the dancefloor as they were playing R.E.M.’s rather wonderful version of The Clique’s “Superman”, which the DJ followed up with this:
The place went mental, Keith and I were blown away and desperate to know what they hell had just been played, but did not want to get negative cool points equity by actually asking anyone, so we shuffled towards the DJ booth (which was in a kind of shed at the side of the dancefloor) and tried to look inconspicuously through the open window to try and catch a glimpse of the sleeve which, as you can see from the above, offered little in the way of clues.
Kurt Cobain happily (well, as happy as he ever was, anyway) conceded that the next band were a massive influence on him, and you can’t help but thinking that they must have had a similar effect on The Smashing Pumpkins’ main man Billy Corgan too, so effectively does “Siva” fit the loud-QUIET-loud template that they if didn’t invent then they certainly reinvigorated.
I speak of course of Pixies. Here’s a bit of a rarity for you, their appearance on The Word to promote their 1990 “Bossanova” album:
“Bossanova” often gets a bad rap, but then anything they released after the holy trinity of “Come On Pilgrim”, “Surfer Rosa” and “Doolittle” was always going to struggle in comparison. Personally, I think it’s a massively under-rated album; for example neither of those tracks were released as singles, probably due to their brevity.
Next, another album track, but another belter. This band first came to my attention back in 1994 when they appeared on Episode 4, Series 3 (I had to look that up, I admit it) of Later…with Jools Holland performing their single “Low” which is on their 1993 album “Kerosene Hat” which I rushed out to buy. “Low” is a fine record, similar in tone and angst to Buffalo Tom’s masterpiece “Taillights Fade”, but since we’re trying to be cheery, here’s the more up-tempo second track on the album, a charming ditty about a female actor who crashes her car and gets decapitated. It’s better than I’ve just made that sound, honest:
I love that tune, especially when the guitar crunches back in for the chorus, and I love the video even more. I could have sworn I had already posted it somewhere on here, but it seems not, or rather if I did it was before I embedded video clips so I probably didn’t tag it. So, here it is, gently poking fun at the cult of celebrity in general and internet sensations in particular (all of whom seem to join in a self-deprecating way):
Fucking joyous, that.
So to the final tune of the night, and this is just, well, dumb. Glorious, but dumb. And it’s another tune which reminds me of Ruth and Spencer, although I can’t quite rememberwhy (both are glorious, neither are dumb, before you say it):