If Paul “Fab Macca Wacky Thumbs Aloft” McCartney’s set is half as good as his Glastonbury headlining set back in 2004 was – I was there, it was fantastic, and a darn good crowd sing-a-long to boot – then we’re in for a treat.
And, given this weekend is Glastonbury’s belated 50th birthday, I’ll be gobsmacked if this doesn’t get an airing:
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 email@example.com and eventually I’ll get round to writing the next instalment.
Ordinarily, I would go about my business with my iPod on shuffle, listening to whatever it decided to feed my ears.
But this week, three things happened which made me focus in on three particular acts for a while.
Phase One, and the most short-lived of the three, Kylie at Glastonbury.
In a set only spoiled by the appearance of Chris Martin and the denegration of the majority of Can’t Get You Out Of My Head into an unnecessarily-acoustic version of the mega-hit. To these eyes, Martin always looks like the sort of person who has trouble controlling his saliva, and has to keep sucking it in before it spills out of the corners of his big shit-eating grin. Nobody wants to hear a mostly acoustic version of Can’t Get You Out Of My Head just so he can strum along to it; we want to hear it in all its full-on banger glory, without the interjection of a man who thinks it’s perfectly acceptable to name his children after fruit.
I say “spoiled”, but that’s not quite true. Nick Cave was there too, to accompany Ms Minogue on Where the Wild Roses Grow. I’d seen a lot of summaries of Kylie’s career in advance of her appearance on the Pyramid Stage, all of them, it seemed, bemoaning this particular period of her career as being the least succesful and therefore dullest. I beg to differ: it was around this time that Kylie suddenly got interesting in my book.
And when I say “spoiled” I don’t mean that Nick Cave spoiled it, because of course he didn’t. But if you can conjure up Nick Cave and Chris Martin, then surely La Minogue could have also cajoled Jason Donovan into joining her to duet on Especially For You? I mean, it’s not like he isn’t in the country. It would have made the inevitable airing of the song almost bearable.
Truth be told, I got a little emotional during Kylie’s set, especially when she did her speech about why wasn’t able to headline the Sunday night as planned back in 2005. See, I was there that year, and while Basement Jaxx proved to be a thoroughly enjoyable replacement, I’d have much rather have seen Kylie. Plus, the merest mention of someone beating cancer these days sets me right off, for reasons regular readers will be fully aware of.
Anyway, here’s Kylie and Nick performing that song:
Phase Two: The Cure, headlining the Pyramid Stage on Sunday night.
I thought they were incredible, even though much of the first hour of their set was comprised of songs from their Disintegration album which I know I’m supposed to love, admire and respect as their masterpiece, but to be honest I’ve always found it to be just a bit too gloomy for my taste. Controversial, I know.
But that last half hour or so, when they just started belting out the hits, was magnificent; their Greatest Hits album Standing on a Beach, was a massive part of my indie-music education when I was a teenager, and I found myself, not for the first time that weekend, rueing the fact that I wasn’t there to witness it in person.
Now, I’ve not managed to find a decent clip of a song from the set I like enough to post yet, so you’ll just have to make do with the non-live version of this, which was a real highlight of their set for me:
But there can be no doubt what the absolute highlight of the weekend was. Until last weekend, I had no idea who Dave was (other than a TV channel renowned for showing episodes of QI and Top Gear on repeat ad infinitum, or the name Trigger incorrectly calls Rodney throughout Only Fools and Horses), and only slightly more of an idea who Thiago Silva is.
I definitely had no idea who Alex Mann was. But I do now (plenty of effing and jeffing in this, by the way):
Phase Three: having spent the whole of the week listening to nothing but Kylie and The Cure on my daily commute, I went to the cinema on Thursday evening…and here’s some words I never thought I’d type…to voluntarily watch a Richard Curtis rom-com.
Let me get my disclaimer in really quickly: Yesterday is also directed by Danny Boyle, who I love and would watch anything he’s been involved in. He’s responsible for some of my favourite films ever (Trainspotting, Shallow Grave, 28 Days Later to name just three) along with the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics (remember 2012, when we were proud to be British, rather than embarrased as we are now by Brexit MEP morons turning their backs on Beethoven?)
Don’t get me started.
But I’ll take any excuse to post that glorious opening ceremony, thank you very much:
And so I weighed it up: did my love of Boyle outweigh my distaste of Curtis? Yes it did.
You’ll be aware by now of the premise of Yesterday, but just in case you’ve been living under a rock for the past few weeks as Boyle, Curtis and leading man Himesh Patel have done the promotional circuit, here’s the trailer:
Here’s the plot: Jack Malik (Patel) is a struggling musician, stranded in Suffolk, who when cycling home one night is hit by a bus at exactly the same moment as the whole world experiences a power cut. When he wakes in a hospital bed, he slowly realises that, for some unexplained reason, The Beatles and their entire back catalogue have been expunged from everyone else in the world’s memory. Only he can remember the songs, which puts him in a bit of a dilemma: does he start performing the songs and claiming them as his own – indeed, can he even remember all of the words? – or does he…erm…let it be. He chooses the former, or course (it’s be a really dull film if he didn’t) and is promptly propelled to super stardom. But who are the two people who seem to know his secret? (Well, it’s the criminally under-used Sarah Lancashire and Justin Edwards, as it goes.)
I have to admit I rather enjoyed Yesterday, despite it’s many flaws. The cast is really good, and it’s practically a Who’s Who of current British comedy acting talent, as you would probably expect from a Curtis movie.
And once you get past the gag that is people not knowing any Beatles’ songs and consequentially mis-naming them, there are a few funny jokes, one at the expense of Oasis, another at the expense of Coldplay, another still at the expense of Ed Sheeran. (I’m doing it a disservice here: I laughed more than three times.)
Ah, yes. Ed Sheeran. I’m not a fan, suffice it to say. But his involvement here does make perfect sense plot-wise. It’s just…well, he’s in it quite a lot, as himself. And James Corden also makes a cameo appearance, also as himself, and again this does make sense: he’s a successful British actor with a chat-show in the US, so he will be recognised on both sides of the pond. It’s just I’d rather not spend my time and money looking at or hearing either of them, thank you very much.
That said, there’s a couple of clunkers: dotted throughout the film, Jack mentions something which also got wiped from the collective conscious during the power outage, and the inference is that they are in some way therefore linked to collective amnesia about The Beatles. To extrapolate: if The Beatles don’t exist, then nor can these things. But the things in question are cigarettes (and, other than a mention of having ‘a smoke’ in A Day In The Life, I can’t think of any other reason for this) and Coca Cola (perhaps the biggest clunker, this seems to have been excluded simply so that a Coke/Cocaine joke can be ham-fistedly crowbarred in.) I mean, The Beatles didn’t write Lola, wherein perhaps the most famous Coca/Cherry Cola reference resides.
And if the idea is that as well as The Beatles disappearing, so anything linked to or based on them must also not exist, then there’s a reference to Cilla Black which makes no sense, given that she was discovered by The Beatles at Liverpool’s Cavern Club.
What the film does have – apart from a surprise, uncredited appearance by Boyle-stalwart Robert Carlyle – is the songs, and it’s really quite lovely that these were recorded with Patel performing them, and not in a totally reworked kind of way as (I understand, I haven’t seen it) happens in the recent Elton John biopic Rocketman.
No, these versions are remarkably faithful to the originals, and includes one absolute belter, for the live version of Help! is rattlingly good:
Over all, I rather enjoyed it, despite myself. There are no surprises here: it’s a Richard Curtis rom-com, we all know how it ends before it even begins, but it’s enjoyable enough. Perhaps wait until it starts cropping up on ITV2 rather than forking out to go see it in the cinema, though.
Ok, to round things off and tie up all the loose ends, here’s Paul McCartney’s headlining set from Glastobury 2004. I had the pleasure of being at this, although I’ll admit I only watched him because…well, how often do you get to watch an actual Beatle play live? Turned out to be one of the finest gigs I ever saw, which really shouldn’t come as any great surprise:
There’s a bit of an oddity about that, in that the opening song (Jet) appears twice at the start, which I’m sure many of you will assume is just an excuse to post this:
I’d skip to around the 5 minute mark if I were you.
The second occasion Jet appears over-writes the actual song in the set, which just so happens to be one of my favourite Beatles songs ever, from my favourite Beatles album ever. You can keep your Sgt. Pepper, give me Revolver any day of the week.
A very quick post this morning; I have an unusually full agenda this weekend, so I’m writing all of the weekend’s post very early on Saturday morning as I won’t be back until sometime tomorrow.
Tonight, I’ve been invited over to my friends Gary and Meg’s for a night of beer and curry; I don’t see either of them anywhere near as often as I would like to, so I’m really looking forward to catching up with them both.
But before that, regular readers will not be surprised to find I’ll be heading into Central London to take part in the People’s Vote march. I’ve not been on anything like this since the end of the 1980s; the march I went on then (against the introduction of student loans, so I’m very aware of just how succesful protest marches can be…) ended up with baton-swinging police on horseback charging into the stationary crowd in an attempt to disperse it, so I’m feeling more than a little nervous excitement right as I write this.
I’ll report back, of course, but until then, this is the most relevant song I could think of (it was either this or Paul McCartney’s We All Stand Together, so count yourselves lucky…although I am now really tempted….):
Madness are one of those bands that I have a soft spot for, but who I managed to never buy any records by at the time. I do remember me and some friends ribbing a lad at school (who shall remain anonymous. Let’s call him Phil. Ah no, that’s his actual name…bugger) back in 1982 because he thought “House of Fun” was actually about a funfair, rather than…y’know…*looks shifty and embarrased*…what it’s actually about…is there a male member of staff I can talk to please, Miss?
Mind you, he also thought that Olivia Newton John’s “Physical” was about her desire to get fat blokes thin, so maybe he deserved everything he got.
Anyway, I digress. The Sun and The Rain finds the Nutty Boys in sombre, non-Nutty mode, and I’d probably say it’s my favourite record they ever did.
2nd solo single from the Mozster. Not sure how I’ve managed to get to here in my Sunday Morning selections without picking it, to be honest. I will always remember, as the Moz finished miming on Top of the Pops, Simon Mayo announcing “Okay, I’ll go out on a limb. That’s a Number One.”
“Everyday is Like Sunday” peaked at Number 9 in the UK charts. But what does Mayo know? I mean, did you see that shirt??
It has just occured to me that perhaps Mayo was offering more of a critique than a prediction.
There’s a lot to love about Michelle Shocked’s recorded output, and she will feature on these pages again soon. But there’s a lot less to love about her since she became a born-again Christian. Nuff said.
I love the Manics, and they will be subject to a CLANG! name-drop moment at some point in these pages. But for now, this, a song which I don’t think they’ve ever bettered. Maybe they should have given up after their first album, as threatened.
I’ve just realised I seem to be on a bit of an ‘M’ trip this morning. Maybe it’s because I saw the trailer for the new Bond film yesterday. In which case, there’s only one song I can end today’s post with, right?
At the risk of sounding all Alan Partridge (whoever did that, is a fricking genius, by the way): the greatest Bond theme ever:
And Lo! So it came to pass that the majority of the same motley crew from Glastonbury 2003 all managed to get tickets for Glastonbury 2004, with a few additions. I’m not going to list them all for a couple of reasons: firstly, they may not appreciate being linked to some of the activities described below; and secondly, I’m not entirely sure who all of the additions were (by which I mean, I’m not sure I can remember who was there, rather than not being sure who they were). Anyway, by my reckoning there were 16 of us this time, a record figure never to be repeated, not by us anyway.
I’d learned three lessons from the previous year:
1) Arrtive early (we did)
2) The stuff on the Pyramid Stage is not necessarily the most interesting stuff that’s going on (I vowed not to spend the whole weekend there again)
3) Stay off the brownies (I’m pleased to report that not one passed my lips)
You may call into question how honest I’m being on that last point when I tell you that when writing and researching this post, I find not only are there dirty great holes in my memory, but also that some of the acts listed in the 2004 booklet, and on the Wikipedia page, are not listed where and when I remember them being. But trust me, it was a brownie-free weekend.
We’ll stick with what I can remember, and what I think I remember.
Friday began with me utterly failing to honour my promise to not just sit at the Pyramid Stage all day. Although there were 16 of us in total, two (who shall be named: Gary and Meg) didn’t arrive until the Friday afternoon and for some reason we’d arranged to meet them at our usual spot at the back of the Pyramid Stage.
Much drinking ensued, and since the majority of our party were Welsh (I think just three, maybe four, of us were English) we spent much of the day making up humorous puns based on Welsh place names/acts playing the festival, in much the same way that now “I Love The Diff” do mugs with the names of works of popular fiction altered to include a Welsh place name or phrase. I haven’t explained that at all well, have I? Well, have a look here and you’ll see what I’m banging on about.
We came up with dozens of these, the pick being “Kings of Caerleon”, which years later Newport’s finest, Goldie Lookin’ Chain named one of their albums. I knew we should have got a copy right on that.
We even adopted the words to “Molly’s Chambers”, which in our world now went:
“You want it, she’s got it, Bonnie Tyler’s gonna change your mind, Bonnie Tyler’s gonna change your mind. She’s got your, your rissoles! Bonnie Tyler’s gonna change your mind, Bonnie Tyler’s gonna change your mind.”
Well, we found it funny, anyway. That’s the scrumpy for you.
Truth be told, this is where the first of the black holes in my memory appears.
My source materials tell me the first act on the Pyramid was Ralph Myerz and the Jack Herren Band (Nope, me neither). It’s entirely possible that I started elsewhere, but a quick flick through the listings fails to jog my memory as to quite what I was doing. I know I definitely wasn’t over at The Other Stage, that’s for sure, for that would have meant I was watching Kasabian, and I’d already developed a healthy, well-founded aversion to Leicester’s finest exponents of deathly unoriginal cock-rock. To this day I would rather eat my own testicles than sit through a Kasabian gig.
Let’s assume I was sleeping off a heavy Thursday night. This is certainly not beyond the realms of possibility.
I do know that I was at The Pyramid in time to catch Bright Eyes, but remember nothing other than being totally underwhelmed by him/them. Next up: Wilco, a band who, given their association with Billy Bragg, you’d think I’d have some vague recollection of seeing, but no. Nothing. Zip.
Nelly Furtado. Yup, I remember her alright. Not quite sure why she was there, but there she was. You want proof? Ok.
Want more proof? What am I, your mother? Go YouTube it.
Next up, Elbow, a band enjoying a ground-swell in popularity at the time, which has seen them edge further and further up the bill as the years have gone on. This was, of course, in pre-Seldom Seen Kid days, and before that bloody song about opening your curtains became the obligatory soundtrack to every momentous event on television. Their set was notable for their performance of Grace Under Pressure; the version which appeared on their “Cast of Thousands” album featured a recording of the Glastonbury crowd from 2002 singing along (see what they did there? Quite literally, a Cast of Thousands), and which we were encouraged to reproduce, which most of us gladly did, even though we’d never heard the song before. I wondered loudly if I would get a share of their fee for assisting their performance. Suffice to say, I had not exactly entered into the spirit of things at this point.
Next: Groove Armada. I have a bit of a soft spot for this lot, mostly because a year or so later I saw them at Lovebox and during their set witnessed a bloke successfully – yes, successfully! – using the greatest, most bizarre chat-up line I have ever heard (for the record, it was: “Do you like Ian Dowie? I like Ian Dowie!!) And whilst, again, my recollection of their set is the very definition of “sketchy”, they definitely did Superstylin’, to my mind one of the happiest summer-ish records ever. So there.
PJ Harvey was next up, a typically wonderful set. I think. Can’t really remember it (it’s going well this, isn’t it?). Sadly, I’ve not been able to source much from her set, bar her rendition of The Letter which, marvellous though it is, isn’t the Alex Chilton/Box Tops classic of the same name. I think she’d do a tidy version of that. Probably wouldn’t even change the “she” to “he”, the saucy androgynous sexpot.
Next up were the Kings of (Caer)Leon, and if you thought my recollection has been a tad on the sketchy side so far, well, you ain’t seen nothing yet, for events were about to overtake us. In between Peej and the Followill brothers, O’Keefe and I were sitting on the grass, more than a tad pissed, happily watching the world go by, when I suddenly heard O’Keefe say “Ey up, eyes right!”. I assumed he had spotted an attractive lady, looked round, and spying nobody I thought likely to have raised his dander, said “Nice was she?”.
“No”, he replied, “on the ground. There.” I looked down to my right, and was greeted by the totally unexpected site of a rather large bag of white powder, nestling in the grass next to me. “Someone just dropped it when they walked by”. Quick as a flash, it was scooped up and safely stashed in my rucksack.
Now. I am not about to condone any kind of drug use. And I am certainly not about to suggest to anyone that they, in the event they are presented with a similar scenario, should do anything other than hand the contraband it in to the relevant authorities.
That said, at this time in my life, well….let’s just say that I had a bit of a reputation to uphold, and there was therefore only one place the contents of that bag were going. One quick dab confirmed it was speed. Not my favourite, but what the heck. A few more dabs, and Kings of Leon were on stage (the two facts are not linked, though I probably thought they were at the time. I very much doubt that Will Followill peeked out from behind the stage curtain, spotted me, and said “Hold on guys, he’s only had a few dabs…let’s give him a few minutes, eh?”). What seemed to be just a few more dabs later and their set was over. They did “Molly’s Chambers”, apparently. We sang the new improved chorus.
A few (okay, a lot) dabs more, the bag was empty (I’m not going to pretend I consumed the whole bag, but I am going to confirm I consumed most of the bag, and that none of the other people from our gang mentioned in this post had any), and suddenly, Oasis were coming on (similarly, there was no curtain twitching by Bonehead).
Never mind all of these Frank adverts which are supposed to scare folks off drugs; the most effective way to achieve total global abstinence from all things narcotic would have been to have a video camera permanently trained on me throughout Oasis’ set, for if ever there was an example of someone being off their tits and thinking they were the funniest bloke on the planet, but actually being an annoying, tedious prick, it was me, then. I spent the entire set with my hands clasped behind my back, leaning forward into an imaginary microphone, doing dreadful, oh so dreadful, Liam impressions (“Is it my imaginaayyyy-shun….”…”sunnnshiiiine” etc etc you get the giste), and also, bizarrely, encouraging everyone round me to “gather round…sing along…you all know the words”, phrases I don’t think I’ve ever heard him say.
It was later reported to me that my flatmate Llyr, when realising what was going on (and more pertinently, what I was on), was heard to mutter “Okay, own up: who’s given him a whole bag of speed?” and, later “If he wasn’t my mate I’d have fucking chinned him by now” He would have been well within his rights to have done so.
Saturday arrived. More (understandably, given the above) vague memories of making my way through the crowd on The Other Stage during Keane’s set at precisely the moment they performed Somewhere Only We Know the only song by them that I’ve ever liked. The intended destination was The Pyramid for Scissor Sisters, who seemed to be just about everywhere at the time, their debut album churning out an endless supply of glam-camp sing ‘n’ frug along pop nuggets, pick of the batch being Take Your Mama Out
Lostprophets were next on the main stage; bearing in mind the name of this blog, and the despicable, depraved behaviour which led to their lead singer’s recent incarceration, I’m glad I didn’t hang around for them. Nope: back over to The Other Stage for My Morning Jacket and British Sea Power (I got nothing) followed by a quick pit stop before returning to The Pyramid for……. the Black Eyed Peas! I’m joking, but sadly not about them playing there, for there they played. No, I did not return to The Pyramid to see them (though I did have the misfortune of catching their last song or two) – the possibility of seeing Fergie soil her trackie bottoms on stage was not sufficient a draw for me (or drawers, haha see what I did there?). No, I was off to see the headliner, Paul “Fab Macca Wacky Thumbs Aloft” McCartney (readers of Smash Hits in the 1980s will appreciate how much I loved just typing that).
McCartney divided opinion in our gang even before he came on stage. We were split pretty much 50/50, with half of the group (some might say, the cooler, or perhaps just the younger ones) opting to go and see Basement Jaxx play The Other Stage, the rest of us electing to watch McCartney. My position on this is that it’s not often you get chance to see one of the Beatles play live these days (and Lord knows we’re not exactly blessed with choices about which of them to see now anyway), and there was no way I would ever pay to go see McCartney anywhere else, so since he’d been nice enough to turn up…well, it’d be rude not to, wouldn’t it?
His set was one of the most enjoyable couple of hours I’ve ever spent at Glastonbury, one massive sing-a-long as he bashed out hit after hit after hit; kicking off with Jet (a song which always reminds me of Alan Partridge), Live and Let Die, and also treating us to a remarkable version of Helter Skelter. I have a vague recollection of being told this was the first time he had played it live since the whole Manson Family she-bang back in the late 1960s. Even more remarkably, his set didn’t end with an overly long rendition of either Let it Be or Hey Jude.
Sunday began, as every Sunday should, with a performance of Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyrie on The Pyramid, followed by, apparently, Joss Stone. This is another one of those occasions where my memory plays tricks on me, for in my head Goldie Lookin’ Chain were on next, but since I can find nothing to corroborate this, I’ll just have to accept that they weren’t. Or were they….? The Glasto 2004 booklet has a slot between the Opera and Stone listed as “tbc”, so maybe I have remembered that right. I know I didn’t sit through Joss Stone and her pseudo-American accent (although that was a few years away yet), but I do know that I sat through lashings of rain and Christy Moore who was on after her…so…oh, I just don’t know.
The early part of my afternoon was spent over at The Other Stage, watching Belle & Sebastian, a band I was only really just getting into, despite having bought The Boy With the Arab Strap a few years earlier after I was impressed by their whole internet voting to win a Brit award-thing. The weather until then had been pretty crappy, but mid-set the clouds parted and the sun made an appearance, along with a spectacular rainbow. It was one of those moments that ordinarily you’d find quite lovely, but at Glastonbury you find yourself grinning from ear to ear about, attributing the change in climate and improved spectacle purely to whoever was on the stage at the time. I’m reliably informed the mood was much the same over at The Pyramid, where Supergrass were playing instead of The Libertines. Any rumours that Pete Doherty had refused to play until someone located his missing bag of speed are completely unfounded.
Next: Morrissey at the Pyramid. Now I love The Smiths, and, despite buying pretty much everything he’s ever released since the split, I have to say I’ve always found his solo stuff somewhat lacking. Sure, there are highlights, but they are few and far between, generally restricted to a few great singles and the occasional album track rather than the utterly flawless output created by him and Johnny Marr (I am legally obliged to add “and by Andy Rourke and Mike Joyce too”; anyone who has ever read Morrissey’s biography cannot have failed to notice that the legal case which led to Joyce getting a large slice of royalties still sticks in Morrissey’s craw, so much space does it take up in the book). Live, Morrissey and his pub-rock backing band will often try and recapture some of those past glories; but just listen to their version of “The Headmaster Ritual” at the start of this five song snippet (also featuring “The First of the Gang to Die”, “The World is Full of Crushing Bores”, “Everyday is Like Sunday” and “Irish Blood, English Heart”): plod…..plod……plod…….. Be grateful I haven’t posted a link to them doing “This Charming Man”, one of the most splendid records ever committed to vinyl, but which they somehow manage to make sound like “Are You Gonna Be My Girl” by Jet. The problem is that the band is lacking a certain spark, and the certain spark is someone who can play guitar like Johnny Marr, or preferably, the actual Johnny Marr.
Bringing things to a conclusion on The Pyramid were Muse, a band renowned for their astonishing stage shows. We, on the other hand, decided we would rather end the weekend over at The Other Stage where Orbital were performing what at the time was supposed to be their final ever appearance anywhere ever. The Hartnoll brothers have since got back together and even played Glastonbury again in 2010; however, believing this would be our last chance to ever see them, and being well aware of their entry into the annals of Glasto history following previous performances at the festival, the majority of us decided that’s where we wanted to be.
I say “the majority”, for there was one of our gang who most decidedly did not want to see Orbital, she wanted to see Muse, and took every possible opportunity to remind us that she wanted to see Muse, and that Muse were her favourite band and she really wanted to see them and they were supposed to be amazing and they were her favourite band and she really wanted to see them.
Now, I’m usually quite a laid back kind of chap. It takes a lot to get me riled. And even more to make me snap at someone, preferring to restrict airing my discontent to catty comments whispered to whoever happened to be standing nearest to me, like the true gentleman I am.
But by the time Orbital started, I snapped. I could make a case for mitigation in my defence: I was tired. It was raining. I was soaked. But the fact is, I’d just had enough of her whining, and, on hearing her announcing for the umpteenth time that she loved Muse, I found myself whirling round to vent: “Right. I’ve had enough of you now! We are not going to watch Muse. We are going to watch Orbital. If you don’t want to watch Orbital then Muse are playing over there, so either fuck off to watch them, or shut up and stay here!.”
I’m a real charmer when I lose my rag, that’s for sure.
Despite the whine and the rain, Orbital were amazing, treating us to Belfast (played surprisingly early in their set, possibly in an effort to get me to chill the fuck out), Satan (nuff said), Halcyon (one of my all time faves) and, inevitably, Chime
And so ended Glastonbury 2004. Well, not quite. The next day proved to be one of the most hellish in respect of actually trying to get out of the site, with traffic gridlocked for hour after hour after hour. Those of us heading back to Wales were luckiest, our minibus finally hitting the main roads some 4 hours after we had set off. Our London buddies were less fortunate, some of them still sitting in their car in the car park as night fell on the Monday.
But this delayed ending did provide one final moment of unutterable pleasure. We in the minibus had the radio tuned to Worthy FM, the radio station which broadcasts from somewhere deep within the bowels of the Eavis farm buildings throughout the festival. Our collective ears perked up as we heard a dedication coming out the speakers:
“And here’s a request from Gary and Meg, asking us to play “Molly’s Chambers” by…oh, it says the Kings of Caerleon here, that can’t be right…never mind…anyway, thanks from Gary and Meg to all of the Welsh gang for a wonderful weekend, and don’t forget: Bonnie Tyler has got your rissole. Er…ok. I’m not sure I understand that. Anyway, here’s the Kings of Leon and Molly’s Chambers“