Late Night Stargazing

Much was written by my friends and peers towards the end of 2016 about going to see Pixies perform. I didn’t go, and from what I’ve heard, I’m kicking myself a little bit about that now.

Pixies are one of my favourite bands ever, so why did I not grab the chance to go see them live, I hear you ask? Well, firstly, Kim Deal is no longer part of the band and that, to me, is a pretty big…erm…deal. Secondly, while the new material has been, y’know, fine, it hasn’t grabbed or excited me anywhere near as much as they did back in the day.

I’ve seen them before, of course, most recently in 2004, at the V Festival in Chelmsford, when they first returned to the fold, original line-up intact, and it was one of those rare, hairs-on-the-back-of-the-neck-standing-up gigs that don’t come along very often. I never thought I’d ever see them play those songs again, so to be there, albeit at the grubbiest of festivals, knee-deep in discarded fast-food trays and plastic pints, was a wonderful moment.

I saw them once before that, back when they were promoting the “Doolittle” album, 1989, Cardiff University Great Hall. I was right down the front, just avoiding the mosh-pit but still managing to position myself in front of Ms Deal, and for a couple of hours, and a for about a week afterwards, it was the greatest gig I’d ever been to. (It’s still the second best gig I ever went to; a week later I saw the greatest gig of my life, and neither have ever been usurped, no matter how many times I’ve seen Super Furry Animals, Quo, or The Wedding Present).

So why didn’t I go see them last year? Because I figured they’d probably focus on their new stuff a bit more than I liked. Seems from the reviews I’ve read that I was sadly misguided on that one, but there you go, win some, you lose some.

So why am I talking about them here, in the bit where I post quite quiet, chilled out tunes? After all, Pixies are more well known for their quiet-loud-quiet format than their quiet-quiet-quiet.

Well, this song deserves some recognition, although you’ll all know it already of course. No, not “La La Love You”, although that could just have easily have been posted now. No, this:

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Pixies – Hey

Gruellingly incredible stuff.

More soon.

Tony’s Themes

The Chain is going to be a day later than usual this week. This is entirely intentional, for today I need to write about someone, today is the day that I must post it, and I’m sorry, but I don’t want it be overshadowed by a second post later on. You’ll see why, and you’ll understand, I’m sure. Back to normal next week.

Right. When I was at Sixth Form, as I’ve mentioned before, I had my little gang of like-minded (politically and musically) chums.

There was Richie, who I’m still in touch with; Anne, who lives down in New Zealand now and who I had the pleasure of a very long phone conversation with earlier this year, the first time we had actually spoken in approaching thirty years; Kirsty and Maria, wicked,  lovely people, all polka-dotted skirts and tousled up hair – I’m in touch with Maria on Facebook, but haven’t heard from Kirsty since we disbanded in 1987.

And then there was Tony.

Tony Plant was a little bit older than the rest of us. He was with us because he had some health problems which meant he was a bit behind his peer group, physically not intellectually. We all knew that he had some kind of problem with his heart, but I don’t think we ever really knew the extent of it. If you asked him, he would just wave you away, saying “Oh, it’s just a thing…nothing to worry about.”

Tony would have been 50 today. You’ll notice the tense of that sentence.

A couple of years ago, I bumped into Richie and he broke the news to me. I was visiting my parents at the time, and they found the fact that I’d bumped into someone I knew – in a B&Q car park, in a town I hadn’t visited in over twenty years, of all places – highly amusing, until I divulged the content of the conversation.

Tony had died, on the operating table, finally having the operation that was hoped to have sorted out once and for all the issues which had put him back into the same Sixth Form, and circle of friends, as me.

It’s a weird situation. I’m so glad I knew him, but I only knew him because of the heart condition that ultimately killed him.

I only knew Tony for a year, maybe a year and a half at the most, a long time ago. But he was one of the loveliest, funniest, warmest blokes I ever met, one of those rare people that the moment you meet them for the first time, you feel like you’ve known them all your life.

He was as much a part of my musical awakening as anyone else that I may attribute that to elsewhere on these pages, pointing me in the direction of some bands he thought I’d like, nodding appreciatively when I told him about ones I’d discovered by myself. It pains me that I will never be able to catch up with him again.

Let me give you an example (or six).

One day I was round at his, sitting in his bedroom at his Mum and Dad’s, listening to records. He played one, which he said he loved because it was precisely in his vocal range. A girl, who he refused to name, had pointed this out to him once. He sang along for me, and he was right. He loved the fact that both she, and I for that matter, had been blown away by his rendition of a record that I had thought was by Heaven 17 until that moment, when I found out it was this:

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The The – This Is The Day

It was on this occasion that he first showed me his party trick: “The Man With the World’s Smallest Mouth”, which I cannot even begin to do justice to. Imagine Rob Bryden’s “Man in a Box” and then take it back 20 years. That was Tony.

He sidled up to me once in the Sixth Form Common Room; a mixtape I had made was playing, and suddenly I was aware that Tony was standing by my side.

“This should be number one, shouldn’t it, mate?” he whispered to me.

In an ideal world, Tony, yes, it should have been. (It got to Number 11.)

This record:

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Westworld – Sonic Boom Boy

And he was right, it should have been Number One because it’s bloody great, far better than most of the old tosh that was cluttering up the UK Singles Charts at the time. Who cares that they released nothing else of any note? That is a great record. Westworld were The Ting Tings of the 80s, only without the number one hit record.

I bumped into Tony one day, in a record shop in Peterborough. It was called “Choices”, a short-lived place just off the main drag, which I often visited because nobody else ever seemed to, and I picked up many recued-to-clear bargains in there. Also, a guy I knew from junior school was working there, so he would happily order stuff for me. It was odd seeing him there, as he was not someone I particularly associated with music – I remembered he and I when we were much, much younger extolling the virtues of Bucks Fizz’s “The Land of Make Believe” and Tom Baker-era “Dr Who”.

Anyway, one day, Tony was in there too, we chatted about what he’d bought, and about a gig he wanted to go to, The Wedding Present, not just because he loved them, but because he’d heard the support act, The Flatmates, were pretty good too.

Desperate to please, moments after our conversation ended, I picked up this :

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The Flatmates – Shimmer

And so began a life long love affair with indie bands with female lead singers.

He was also very supportive. Around this time, having had a guitar for a few years, I was getting to grips with playing chords and being able to perform songs. I once told him I could play the next one, did it for him, and the next thing I knew I was wheeled out in front of his parents and a few friends, being encouraged to do it again:

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The Wedding Present – Everyone Thinks He Looks Daft

It’s the 30th anniversary of that record next year, and I’m going to see them perform it in it’s entirety. Tony will be with me.

I see Tony whenever I hear those records. But none more so than this next one.

Christmas 1986. Sixth Form Christmas Party. Tony and I have ended up sitting on some tables, all the chairs having been snuck off by people less drunk than we.

We talked about records, as we often did, and when we got to this one, we both sat, cross-legged on the table, singing the 82-second life out of the C86-opening track:

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Primal Scream – Velocity Girl

To finish off, I remember how excited he was when he first heard the Pixies’ “Surfer Rosa”, not least because it’s a brilliant, brilliant record, but more so because it had this on it:

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 Pixies – Tony’s Theme

That little group of friends I mentioned earlier: I guarantee that every time we hear that, we think of him, thank our lucky stars we knew him, and curse our luck that he’s gone.

After I found out he had passed away, I got in touch with Anne and broke the news to her. It was a shitty way to reconnect with someone after so many years, but I knew she would want to know. After the initial shock, she sent me a collage of pictures she had from when we all used to hang out. It included this one:

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He couldn’t play the bloody thing, but he was going to try and look like a member of The Bluebells if it was the last thing he did.

And that is exactly how I want to remember him.

It’s such a cliché to say that you wish you’d stayed in touch with someone, but I don’t really care that it’s a cliché. Tony is someone I wish I’d tried harder to keep in my life. And now it’s too late. He’s gone.

As we approach the festive season, perhaps there’s a message there for us all.

Rest in peace, old buddy. And happy birthday.

More soon.

The Chain #23

Welcome, welcome Chain Gangers new and old, welcome all.

Last week’s record was “Radar Love” by Golden Earring, and the gauntlet was thrown down for you to come up with records which linked to that five minute rock classic. Some of you chose to link to word “Radar”, some to the word “Golden”, one of you to the word “Ear”, but, and bless you all for this, not one of you went down the very simple route of suggesting songs which linked to the word “Love” or “Ring”.

Actually, that’s not quite true. For one from amongst our ranks linked to both. At the same time. We’ll deal with them later.

So, to your suggestions, and first up this week is Charity Chic from Charity Chic Music:

“Let’s get the cheese out the fridge early doors,” begins CC. Music to my ears, that. Regular readers will know that whilst we encourage, smart, clever, odd, witty, records here, we also enjoy a bit of cheese to off-set it all. So what does CC have in store for us?

“Golden Earring puts one in mind (or me at any rate) of Golden Brown by the Stranglers. There was a Boston Strangler leading to the poodle band Boston with More than a Feeling.”

If I could just clarify, Boston were a band from Boston who named their band Boston, that’s how full of innovative ideas they were. So clearly, Boston were not a band made up exclusively of Poodles. That would be ridiculous. There was a Yorkshire Terrier on keyboards too, and an American Hairless Terrier called Brian provided occasional backing vocals.

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Boston – More Than a Feeling

“I may well be back,” CC adds, somewhat ominously.

Now, once in a while a suggestion contains a bit of info that I didn’t know, and this week that dubious distinction goes to The Great Gog:

“Oh well, I’d better get it over with. For those that know about these things, there’s a bit of an elephant in the room with Golden Earring, or should I say Eggermont in the room. Japp Eggermont to be precise. Not content with providing a track for the Euro-version of Smashie & Nicey to play, Mr. Eggermont post-Golden Earring was responsible for the medley mania that blighted the UK Charts in 1981 with his Starsound project.”

In case you have no idea what GG is talking about here, the Starsound project was kind of like a prototype Jive Bunny, who simply mixed old pop hits together into a medley with an irritating drum beat syncing them all together. You can read about them here or if you’d like to actually hear one of them, this is the one that got to No. 2 in the UK charts in 1981:

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 Stars On 45 – Stars On 45

No need to thank me.

Anyway, sorry GG, I seem to have interrupted, do carry on.

“This launched many copyists, but perhaps the most interesting lurked on the b-side of Squeeze’s “Labelled With Love” single – “Squabs On Forty Fab”. Clearly, Glenn, Chris and the guys weren’t taking it terribly seriously, but it’s a better listen than any other the others that were around.”

See? I had no idea that a bloke from Golden Earring was responsible for all those records, nor did I know that Squeeze had done a parody, of sorts:

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Squeeze – Squabs On Forty Fab

Time to get settled now folks, as our nice Uncle Dirk from sexyloser is about to demonstrate the art of Comment Showboating:

“…in ‘Radar Love’, Golden Earring have a line which goes “And the radio played that forgotten song / Brenda Lee’s “Coming On Strong””.

Not only is this tune shamelessly forgotten indeed (although I have a feeling that someone might easily suggest it here in due course in order to rectify this situation)…”

Stop right there. We can do that right now:

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Brenda Lee – Coming On Strong

Do continue, Dirk.

“…it’s also a little known fact that this song’s title refers to Barrett Strong, American singer and songwriter, born February 5, 1941 in West Point, Mississippi.

Brenda Lee, although married to Ronnie Shacklett since 1963, apparently had a soft spot for lucky Barret as well, or is there any other explanation why she wrote a song about having sex with him and even describes her favourite position in the title?” [Erm…are you sure about this bit…? I’ve read this several times and can’t make out if you’re making a very rude joke or not – Ed.]

“And, friends, it must have been g.r.e.a.t. sex, because it was Barrett Strong who gave Brenda the nickname under which she was widely known until the end of her career: “Little Miss Dynamite”!

Also commonly not all too well known is that Barrett wanted more than just this short liaison, but it took him until 1973 until he responded with a song for Brenda: ‘Stand Up And Cheer For The Preacher’.

History shows us that his wish was never fulfilled by Brenda, nevertheless it’s my suggestion for this week’s link, so there you are!”

I have no idea whether any of this is true or not, so just in case, a disclaimer: the views of Dirk are not necessarily shared by the broadcaster.

Anyway, here’s the tune Dirk nominates, and rather fine it is too:

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Barrett Strong – Stand Up and Cheer for the Preacher

Time to welcome The Swede from Unthought of, though, somehow who proposes a song and a band I had no previous knowledge of, and who, on the strength of this song – which musically reminds me of Cowboy Junkies take on “Sweet Jane” from their The Trinity Sessions album – I’ve gone out and got me the album.

“There’s no way I can pass up such a (ahem) golden opportunity to suggest my favourite song of 2015. From Golden to Silver – ‘Silver John’ by This is the Kit.”

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This Is The Kit – Silver John

Onwards now to SWC from When You Can’t Remember Anything who submits:

“Radar makes me firstly think of MASH so that immediately gives us the opportunity to have a listen to the Manics version of theme tune to that.”

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

“But secondly” SWC continues, “Radar also makes me think of the wonderful Dawn of The Replicants’ single ‘Radars’.”

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Dawn Of The Replicants – Radars

Which seems an appropriate moment for me to slip one of my suggestions in, for the first record that sprang to my mind when I saw the source material was this, one of those “let’s stick this previously unreleased track on the Greatest Hits album in the hope it helps flog a few more copies” affairs:

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Blur – Music Is My Radar

And now, the return of Is This The Life‘s The Robster for his second (or should that be fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth..?) suggestions:

“A couple [ahem! – Ed] of suggestions from me: Radar Love was from an album called Moontan. Moon Safari was an album by Air featuring the excellent song Kelly Watch The Stars”

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Air – Kelly, Watch the Stars

“Another track from Moontan – Vanilla Queen – samples Marilyn Monroe who sang a song called I Wanna Be Loved By You…”

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Marilyn Monroe – I Wanna Be Loved By You

“A more obvious route – and a blatant excuse to get some David Gedge in here – takes us straight to Ears by Cinerama…”

0001459016_500Cinerama – Ears

“Alternatively, using the Golden tack – Gold Lion by Yeah Yeah Yeahs…”

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Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Gold Lion

“…or better still, Golden by Stephenhero (aka Patrick Fitzgerald of Kitchens Of Distinction) which features vocals by the delectable Tanya Donelly.”

stephenherogoldenepStephen Hero – Golden

“Better leave it at that – I’m getting greedy…” he (finally) signs off.

Y’think??

Now, I’ve never heard that Stephen Hero record before, so forgive me as I’m not entirely confident in the place I got it from: is it supposed to do that thing where it seems to go into a completely different song for no reason whatsoever? (Not saying I don’t like it, by the way, just wondered if I’ve picked me up some duffer of a tampered with version).

Ok, so The Robster emailed me to tell me it sounded like I had indeed been sold a pup and that what I seemed to have was a sampler for the whole EP, which just goes to show what an idiot I am. Link now updated to feature the correct song. Many thanks to the Robster for pointing me in the right direction with this one, which I like even more now that I’ve heard it properly!

Moving on to Alyson from What’s It All About, Alfie? who writes:

“I am (sadly) old enough to remember Golden Earring from when they first released Radar Love back in ’73 and I hated it! Not my thing at all and they stole valuable TOTP from my favourite teen idols of the day. Bit of a one-hit wonder though so they soon went away, but then what happens, they release the same bl**dy song again four years later! My musical tastes had evolved by this time but they still (to use a phrase last employed by my favourite person to stalk/spy on/copy, George) “rubbed me up the wrong way” – Again they were taking valuable air time away from the acts I did want to watch on television!

So, to pull a lyric from a song I really do like, they not only stole time:

One time, one time (but)
Two times, two times…..

Yes, a very tenuous link to the Fugees version of Killing Me Softly from me this week.”

I think I understand that connection, just about:

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The Fugees – Killing Me Softly

Remember how Charity Chic said they may be back later? Turns out, they weren’t ruddy well joking:

“In 1978 Radar Records released their first single (I Love The Sound of) Breaking Glass by Nick Lowe – hopefully got those brackets in the correct order Alyson!”

This prompted a mini-discussion (can two comments be classed as a discussion? Discuss.) as to whether there were any brackets in the song title in question, Alyson stating: “Not seeing brackets in any of my reference material for that one CC, although I’m not actually looking at the single so they might have snuck those pesky brackets in there.”

I was with CC on this one, right up until the point that, after uploading and naming the MP3, I checked the single sleeve. Oopsies.

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Nick Lowe – (I Love the Sound of) Breaking Glass

Luckily, it turns out that we’re all right. For it seems that in some countries, it was released with, and in some countries without, the brackets. For example, when it was released on Columbia Records in the USA, the brackets were included. As evidence:

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Glad to clear that up. And by the way, who said us bloggers were nerds?

Now does anyone know what time it is? That’s right: it’s George Time!

“Golden Earring were Dutch (I suppose they still are). So were Focus, but I chose them last week, but The Vengaboys were Dutch. I recognised We Like To Party (and did a little dance a la The Inbetweeners film which brought a smile to my partner’s face. Or was it a grimace…. ).”

Definitely the latter.

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Vengaboys – We Like to Party! (The Vengabus)

For those of you new round these parts, can I stress that this is not the sort of record that George usually suggests. He’s been under a lot of pressure recently…

To try and balance things out a little, I’ve spent much of my spare time since George suggested this trying to find a clip of the Wenger Boys from Sky One’s Soccer AM, but to no avail. In my quest, however, I did find an article about Vengaboys which read: “Vengaboys are a Dutch Eurodance group…[who were] never critically acclaimed”.

Hands up who knows can think of a really good reason why that might be?

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Nuff said.

Here’s Rol from My Top Ten; surely he’ll have some blinding suggestions for us?

“My first thought this time was that Golden Earring also had a song called The Twilight Zone and recently I put together a Top Ten Twilight Zone Songs (songs which could have been episodes of the amazing Rod Serling TV show). Number One on that list was Angie Baby by Helen Reddy because it freaks me out every time I listen to it.

However, I’ve disqualified the above as it’s way too self-referential.”

Oh shush. Such modesty. Read it here.

“So instead, I offer Mark Germino & The Sluggers’ classic DJ song Rex Bob Lowenstein, taken from the album Radartown. Rex Bob is a hero to music bloggers everywhere – he refuses to “play the song list they send in the mail” and when The Man tries to make him, he barricades himself in his studio and “plays smash and trash till they cuff him on the floor”.”

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Mark Germino and The Sluggers – Rex Bob Lowenstein

Over to Alex G from We Will Have Salad now:

“OK, sticking with Dutchness for a moment, one Dutch musician who passed through Golden Earring’s ranks was Robert-Jan Stips, later of art popsters Nits, from whom I nominate “Radio Shoes”. And since the first “R” of “RADAR” stands for Radio, that’s a connection by two different routes.”

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The Nits – Radio Shoes

“Also,” Alex continues, “I imagine most or all of Golden Earring wore shoes.”

Not according to The Great Gog, they don’t:

“Picking up from Alex G, a bit of lazy stereotyping would have the Dutch band’s footwear being clogs. This of course opens up the opportunity for a quick blast of Violinski’s “Clog Dance”.

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Violinski – Clog Dance

70s-tastic, Great Mate!

What time is it? It’s a quarter past George Time! And here he is with another contender for Comment Showboat of the week:

“Taking Gold as a starting point, directly under gold in the Periodic Table is Roentgenium, symbol Rg, named after Wilhelm Rontgen, the discoverer of X-rays. And The Butthole Surfers have a song with lines I Saw An X-Ray Of A Girl Passing Gas, from the Hairway To Steven album. (Apologies to German readers and Germano-philes for not using an umlaut in Rontgen.)”

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Butthole Surfers – I Saw an X-Ray Of a Girl Passing Gas

Last, but by no means least, of your suggestions this week, it’s welcome back to The Beard:

“Golden Earring are famously Dutch. The sport of darts has produced many famous Dutchmen, none more so than current world number one Michael Van Gerwen. In the glamour world of professional arrows, walk-on music is standard. His walk-on music is Seven Nation Army by The White Stripes. Frontman Jack White appears to have a low boredom threshold/strong work ethic and was also in, among others, The Raconteurs with a couple of gadges from The Greenhornes. My choice is The End Of The Night by The Greenhornes.”

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The Greenhornes – The End of the Night

I was going to post The White Stripes tune for you too, but CC only posted it over at his place a couple of days ago, so here’s the Glitch Mob Remix of it instead:

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The White Stripes – Seven Nation Army (The Glitch Mob Remix)

Now, you’ll recall that right at the top of this week’s post, I wrote this: “…not one of you went down the very simple route of suggesting songs which linked to the word “Love” or “Ring”.

Actually, that’s not quite true. For one from amongst our ranks linked to both. At the same time. We’ll deal with them later.”

Well the time to deal with them is now, and that person was yours truly. And surprisingly, I’m not going for the easy joke here. And this is the record:

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Pixies – I’ve Been Tired

Whilst Black Francis/Frank Black/whatever he’s calling himself this week and Kim Deal may be (or have been in the latter’s case) the famous ones in the Pixies, this overlooks their drummer, the fantastically named Dave Lovering. Which is probably why he plays an instrument that is played sitting down, to protect his Lovering. (You know when I said I wasn’t going for the easy joke? I lied.)

And one more from me. Some people claim to be able to use their Radar to establish what sexual preference a person is. Often this is referred to as a Gay-dar. Which sounds too much like this for me to be able to resist:

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Electric Six – Gay Bar

It also gives me the opportunity to post the quite brilliant video for it:

That’s enough Abraham Lincoln’s in posing pouches for this week, I think. Time to reveal what the BBC Radio 2 listening public nominated as their choice to follow on from Radar Love by Golden Earring:

“From ‘Radar Love’ to Elvis Costello’s record label, Radar, hence…”

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23. Elvis Costello & The Attractions – Radio Radio

CC – you were so close to gaining some bonus points. So near, and yet so far…

Ok, so you all know what to do next. Send me, via the Comments section below, you’re suggestions for records which can be linked to “Radio Radio” by Elvis Costello & The Attractions, along with your explanation of the link between the two (or in The Robster’s case, five).

See you back here in a week’s time!

(More soon)

Friday Night Music Club

Evening all.

I had a lot of fun doing the sweary edition of Friday Night Music Club last week, so much so that, devoid of anything approaching an original idea, I thought I’d simply repeat the same trick tonight. If it works for the Quo, then why can’t it work for me?

So – be careful where you read this or listen to tonight’s post, for it is definitely NSFW, as I believe they say in some of the slightly bluer areas of the internet which I have definitely never visited and have only heard about, honest Officer.

But we’ll take it gently for a start. Well, gentle sounding anyway.

Darren Hayman is perhaps best known as the main man from Hefner, who gained a whole lot of airplay and blog-inches a couple of years ago because of their track “The Day Thatcher Dies”. Just as Prince wrote “1999”, Jarvis wrote “Disco 2000” and whoever it was that used to write Robbie Williams’ songs wrote “Millenium” all played the long-game and wrote singles about, end of the world excepted, fixed points in time in the future that would definitely happen (and their record would be played) so Hayman knew his ker-ching day would come soon enough.

But I’m not posting that song. I’m posting this rather lovely sounding track from his “January Songs” album, featuring Elizabeth Morris from indie-pop darlings and inverted comma users nightmare “Allo’ Darlin'”:

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147. Darren Hayman – I Know I Fucked Up

Keeping it in a similar vein, here’s Jenny Owen Youngs from her debut album “Batten the Hatches”, which implies a pending storm, whirlwind, or hurricane, and is, I’m sure you’ll agree once you hear this, rather mistitled:

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148. Jenny Owen Youngs – Fuck Was I

Now it’s not often you get a song with a four word title where three of the four words are swears. But here’s one from a rather unlikely source: daughter of Canadian American folk rock singer/songwriter Loudon Wainwright III (who older readers might recall used to have a guest slot on one of Jasper Carrott’s TV shows in the 1970s/1980s), daughter of folk legend Kate McGarrigle and brother of Rufus, here’s Martha Wainwright at her potty-mouthed best:

Martha Wainwright - Bloody Mother Fucking Asshole

149. Martha Wainwright – Bloody Mother Fucking Asshole

This gives me an excellent excuse to post the time that she appeared as a panellist on “Never Mind The Buzzcocks” where she met the man with both the mind and the cock of a horse, Dappy, and…well, let’s just say it’s a little awkward (head to 11:24 of the clip):

Moving on, a song which surely needs no introduction:

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150. Radiohead – Creep

Two memories from this: firstly, of the time the video appeared on Beavis and Butthead which rather annoyingly has been blocked on that there YouTube, but which I’ve managed to track down here. Actually, make that three memories, as watching that has just brought back lots of dial-up experiences of “buffering” (it works better the second time you try to watch it, honest). “If they didn’t have a part of the song that sucked, then the rest of the song wouldn’t be as cool.” Genius.

Secondly, or thirdly depending how you want to look at it, I was working in a video shop in Cardiff in the early 1990s when this came out, and I had, you’ll be totally unsurprised to hear, prepared a load of mix-tapes to play in store, one of which included this, but the clean, radio-friendly version. One of the chaps who worked in the store with me was unaware of this, and was at the front of the shop one evening helping someone pick a movie, when he heard the opening bars of this come on and thought to himself “There’s a very good reason why this should not get played in the store” but couldn’t quite remember what that reason was. The penny dropped just as it got to the bit where chainsaw guitars get cranked up (the cool bit), and he ran the length of the shop, vaulted over the counter, crashed into the bank of TVs and slid down to where the tape player was, just in time of the sanitised “…so very special…” came through the speakers.

Anyway, Radiohead recorded a clean version of “Creep” to ensure it finally got airplay, but there’s another way to ensure you get a single with a swear word on it played: have just one swear word, sung once, right at the end, when radio DJs are concentrating more on what they’re going to say next than on what is being played.

Step up to the mic Michael Stipe and his R.E.M. chums for this, the lead single and opening track from their 1994 “Monster” album. The final departing lyrical salvo, in case you don’t quite catch it, is “Don’t fuck with me”:

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151. R.E.M. – What’s The Frequency, Kenneth?

A short non-musical interlude now. The relationship between Black Francis and Kim Deal of Pixies fame was notoriously fractious, and nowhere was that better illustrated than with this sound-clip which features as a track on the glorious “Surfer Rosa” album.

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152. Pixies – You Fucking Die!

Yeh, course you were, Francis.

Moving on, I mentioned Jarvis Cocker earlier, so here’s something from his second solo album, “Further Complications” where Jarvis goes down the R.E.M. route of steadfastly not swearing until right at the end, but kind of misses the point by a) putting the offending word in the title, and b) not actually releasing it as a single anyway so it didn’t really matter:

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153. Jarvis Cocker – Fuckingsong

Now: a band I adore, who John Peel loved, who are vastly under-rated, have never achieved anything like the commercial success they deserve, and have produced a whole host of songs which will unquestionably feature in my “Name That Tune” thread. I speak, of course, of none other than Half Man Half Biscuit, and this features as one of three songs on the “Dickie Davies Eyes” EP:

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154. Half Man Half Biscuit – The Bastard Son Of Dean Friedman

And in case you were wondering who Dean Friedman is:

Dean is the one playing the piano. Quite the dish, eh ladies?

If you think Half Man Half Biscuit have a daft name, then you’ll probably not be much of a fan of Pop Will Eat Itself’s name either, but that’s where we’re heading next, so tough titties. No swears in the title this time, but if you ever want to hear two former crusties/UK sampling pioneers from the Black Country bellowing the word “Motherfuckers!” then this is your go-to record:

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155. Pop Will Eat Itself – Get the Girl! Kill The Baddies!

And since we seem to have strayed into kinda dancey territory, here’s some pure filth courtesy of John Creamer, a name which always makes me giggle like a naughty schoolboy, same as when anyone ever mentions the band “Tool”. We’re back in Beavis and Butthead territory I’m afraid, or more specifically, this chap:

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Anyway, I digress. The next song is without doubt the filthiest thing I will be posting tonight, so please do not listen if you are under 18, easily offended, or sitting at your desk at work:

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156. John Creamer – Fuck Sonnet (Vocal Mix)

There was a trend on club records about 10 – 12 years ago or so – probably still is for all I know, it’s that long since I’ve been to one – for the vocal part to just be just a deep voiced bloke spouting all sorts of sauciness. There is one in particular that I’d love to track down, which I won’t bore you with here, but if you know someone who really knows their dance tunes that fit that vague description, I’d really appreciate it if they got in touch.

Public service request dispensed with, here’s someone neither you nor I ever expected to pop up here:

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157. Miley Cyrus – Fuckin Fucked Up

No wait, come back! This is lifted from her 2015 album where she collaborated with The Flaming Lips, and you can spot their wonderfully weird influence all over this. Plus, it’s only 50 seconds long so…y’know…suck it up and give it a go.

Time for a classic. This next song was the first ever song to get into the UK Top 40 that had the word “Fuck” in the title. The BBC banned it, of course; when they simply had to refer to it, they did so as “Too Drunk To…” and Top 40 host Tony Blackburn, who the BBC also banned from their airwaves last week just said it was a “a record by a group calling themselves The Dead Kennedys”. It is, of course:

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158. Dead Kennedys – Too Drunk To Fuck

In this week of controversial songs, perhaps one of the most controversial songs ever. From their “Straight Outta Compton” album:

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159. N.W.A. – Fuck Tha Police

Which reminds me, I must watch the movie sometime.

Anyway, thank goodness for Adam Buxton’s cleaned up version:

Some of you may recognise the driver as Kerry Godliman, perhaps best known as playing Hannah in the Ricky Gervais comedy “Derek”, but a fantastic stand-up in her own right:

Back to the music, and a band much loved by Super Furry Animals, who they sampled on their indie-club classic “The Man Don’t Give a Fuck” single, the sample being lifted from this very song:

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160. Steely Dan – Show Biz Kids

Personally, I’m not all that fussed about that; I find myself not really paying attention until it gets to the bit that SFA sampled, at which point I suddenly perk up and start listening again.

On to a band whose debut eponymous album I was introduced to at college by a friend ringing me up, saying “You have to hear this” and playing this track down the phone to me:

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161. Violent Femmes – Add It Up

This is one of my favourite albums ever, all killer no filler, but most people only seem to know  “Blister in the Sun”, the opening song from the album. For me, though, “Add It Up” is the best thing on there, partly because of that phone call, but mostly, if I’m honest, because it pretty much describes my life at the time. And a disappointingly large amount of it afterwards too, now I think about it.

Which makes the next song title rather apt. The B-side to their wonderful and without peer 7″ single “What Do I Get?” – which we used to do a cover of in the band I was in at college:

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162. Buzzcocks – Oh Shit!

We’re on the home straight now, don’t fret.

Penultimately, a song by a group – no, by two groups – no, by a super-group that I waxed lyrical about after seeing them at Glastonbury last year. The amalgamation of Franz Ferdinand and Sparks into FFS:

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163. FFS – Piss Off

And finally a song by an artiste/band that I own only this by, and even this I only own on “Sharks Patrol These Waters”, a CD featuring the best of those “Volume” compilations that came out in the 1990s (you remember them – they always came with a quite meaty book which talked about all of the acts contained therein and without fail had a picture of tropical fish on the cover)

Like this, in fact:

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164. Mindless Drug Hoover – Fuck Off

All I can tell you about them (him?) is that they (he?) released one album in 1997 called “Don’t Take Ecstacy” which sounds like a terrible idea to me, and probably explains why I never bought anything else by them (him?)

Anyway, that’ll do you for tonight.

More soon.

Friday Night Music Club

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, 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 thread is supposed to be, well, fun.

So where better place to start than with this:

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105. Beastie Boys – Make Some Noise

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.

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106. The Mooney Suzuki – Alive And Amplified

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 in 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:

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107. Andrew W.K. – Party Hard

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 brown 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.

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(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.

Anyway, I digress. Time for some more loudness:

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108. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – Whatever Happened To My Rock’n’roll (Punk Song)

It’s not a punk song, now is it, boys?

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:

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109. Placebo – Nancy Boy

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.

Back to the music:

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110. Pearl Jam – Do the Evolution

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:

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111. The Smashing Pumpkins – Siva

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:

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112. Nirvana – Sliver

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:

and here is a lovely MP3 of the same thing.

113. Pixies – Cecilia Ann/Allison

“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:

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114. Cracker – Movie Star

Ok, let’s round things off for another week with two songs so utterly wonderful they are bound to raise a smile.

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115. Weezer – Pork and Beans

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.

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116. Tenpole Tudor – Swords of a Thousand Men

That’ll do yer.

I’ll be back at some point over the weekend, have a good one in the meantime.

Or to put it another way: more soon.

 

Friday Night Music Club

…and we’re back in the room.

I thought we might all need a little something to shake us out of our post-Christmas, post-New Year, post-Hogmanay fug, so we’re going L-O-U-D this week.

First up, a band who to my mind have never quite fulfilled their early promise. This though is a belter, given an extra boost with a truly awesome Erol Alkan remix:

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61. Interpol – Mammoth (Erol Alkan Rework)

That includes the kind of slightly-longer-than-you-were-expecting breakdown guaranteed to cause dancers to stop and stare quizzically in the direction of the decks whilst the DJ frantically tries to work out if the PA system has conked out or not.

Next: don’t fret, this isn’t a theme starting:

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62. Tame Impala – Elephant

A much over-looked band and album next, over-looked that is until the next track featured in a recent advert for Virgin Holidays:

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63. El Goodo – Feel So Fine

Touch of the Super Furries about that sleeve, and that’s not where the similarities end. Also hailing from South Wales, the album was mixed by Cian Ciaran, and in fact Super Furries had them opening for them on several UK dates back in 2005. If you’re looking for something to fill the void whilst you wait in hope for some new Super Furries material, you could do a lot worse than invest in a copy of their “Coyote” album.

Now, as a bridge to cranking the volume up some more, a band renowned for their loud-quiet-loud sound, so much so that the documentary made about them bore the same name.

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64. Pixies – Bone Machine

Not one of their louder efforts, to be fair, but it’s my old mate Llyr’s favourite track by them, and every time I hear it I think of him, so I don’t need any other excuse to post this one.

Because if you want loud, well here you go:

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65. Dinosaur Jr. – Freak Scene

Back in the late 1980s, when I was at college, BBC2 used to have a half-hour alternative music show called SNUB TV, which aired around seven in the evening, so round about the time I would have been getting out of bed. Such was the case when this came on:

Blimey, that takes me back. Such was the impact of that single that I insisted on us playing it in the band I was in during my time at college. But more of that some other time.

Keeping things loud and kool:

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66. Sonic Youth – Kool Thing

Kim Gordon: if not the coolest, then definitely in the top 5, coolest women in rock ever. Factoid.

And for the final two, just loud and utterly wonderful:

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67. My Bloody Valentine – You Made Me Realise

At least one of my regular readers will not be clicking that link, so much does they hate that one. Totally unfounded. If the Interpol remix had a wonderful breakdown, then this has the opposite, a climactic repetitive thrashing of guitars which goes on and on and on as a bridge until the tune, such as it is kicks in again. I haven’t made that sound anywhere near as hypnotically ear-bleedingly wonderful as that is.

And to finish things off, a cautionary tale of talking to drunken bar flies:

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68. Senseless Things – Homophobic Asshole

More soon.