The Chain #39

Scene: an empty warehouse, in darkness.

FX: A door creaks opens, a switch clicks.

The lights flicker into life.

Delivery Man 1 [poking his head through the door]: Yes, this looks like it.

Delivery Man 1 backs into view, clipboard under arm, guiding a large object covered in a sheet, which is being pushed by Delivery Man 2 with considerably more effort than Delivery Man 1 is expending.

FX: The door slams shut.

Delivery Man 2: Whereabouts does it need to go? What does the order say?

Delivery Man 1 consults the clipboard.

Delivery Man 1: It says “Leave in the middle of the floor, covered, as if it’s been here for ages.”

Delivery Man 2 [with a shrug]: Bit weird, but if that’s what it says.

Job done, they exit, leaving the light on.

FX: the door opens and closes. Pause. Repeat.

An incredibly handsome, if fat and bald, man enters the room. He surveys the object before removing the sheet.

Incredibly handsome, if fat and bald, man: And we’re back in the room!

Hello, and welcome to The Chain. Where’ve you been? I’ve been waiting for you.

Prompted by a question about whether one of this week’s suggestions qualified under the rules, and nothing whatsoever to do with the amount of time since one of these posts appeared, nosireebob, I thought it might be best if I go over them again here, with a brief explanation of what we do here.

So, The Chain is a feature on BBC 6Music’s Radcliffe and Maconie show (and prior to that, their show on BBC Radio 2), where a record is played and they invite suggestions as to what record could be played next, which must link in some way to the one just played.

The difference here is that whilst they choose just one record to play, we try to post all of the suggestions which you submit.

The only rules are:

  1. No suggested record can feature twice (unless it has only featured as part of The Official Chain). If you’re not sure – ask!
  2. The only exception to this rule is “Back on the Chain Gang” by The Pretenders, which has been adopted as our theme tune
  3. When making your suggestion, you must provide an explanation of the link between the two songs
  4. You must already own a copy of it, and be willing to provide it (in case I don’t already own it or am unable to source it)
  5. Suggestions must be more than just naming a different song by the same artist.
  6. You can make as many suggestions as you like, but please, go easy on me, won’t you?

That’s about it. I award points every now and again, for Worst Record of the Week, Cheesiest Record of the Week, Comment Showboat of the Week, and of course, for anyone who happens to guess either the song or act (or both) that is the next record in the Official Chain, which becomes the source record for the following week. Nobody’s keeping score (well, I’m not anyway), the points are just a bit of fun.

Okay, that’s the admin done. Last time out, the source record was “The Universal” by Blur; personally, I found this a really tricky one to link to, especially as I have to wait and see what’s left after you guys have nominated all the good ones. Ho hum, such is life.

So, here we go then, and as usual, we’ll bracket them into several fairly broad categories and, as usual, we’ll probably wander off on a couple of tangents along the way.

First out of the traps last time was Charity Chic from Charity Chic Music who wrote:

“It has to be something off ‘Universal Audio’, the final album by The Delgados. I Fought the Angels would do rather nicely I feel”

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The Delgados – I Fought The Angels

Of course, CC was not alone in suggesting a link to something of Universal appeal; Dirk from sexyloser proffered thusly:

“…because not enough good German music is being featured on these pages, I’d like to  link to Die Sterne – ‘Universal Tellerwäscher’ from 1994 …. which in fact is a mighty record indeed!”

I was going to make a rather unkind joke about the phrase “good German music” being an oxymoron, but then I listened to Dirk’s suggestion and have to agree, it is mighty fine (even if I have not one clue as to what it’s about, although Google Translate, which is never wrong, obviously, tells me that a Tellerwäscher is a dishwasher ):

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Die Sterne – Universal Tellerwäscher

Sticking with the Universal theme, SWC from When You Can’t Remember Anything suggested this:

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Universal Being – Size of an Elephant

whilst The Great Gog wrote:

“…seeing as we’re all commenting on The Universal, Red Hot Chilli Peppers’ Universally Speaking would seem apt.”

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Red Hot Chili Peppers – Universally Speaking

And The Beard quoted a completely different song which contains the word “Universal”:

“Universal, unique untouched, unadulterated, the raw uncut”

He is, of course, referring to this:

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Blackalicious – Alphabet Aerobics

Time for the first interlude of the day; I stumbled along this clip the other day, which I’m sure you’ll agree contains some quite wizardly rapping:

Anyway, where were we?

Ah yes. Blur’s ‘The Universal’. Take it away Julian of Music from Magazines fame:

“Blur did a song “Beetlebum”
The Beatles did a song “Across The Universe”
Laibach did a version of “Across The Universe”
Laibach nailed “Sympathy For The Devil”

(The 7.52 version please)”

As you wish:

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Laibach – Sympathy For The Devil

Time for a big Chain welcome for the first of two new contributors to The Chain this week, here’s Telefrank:

“The video for ‘The Universal’ references the Korova Milk Bar, so something by Wendy Carlos natch.”

Just to join up the dots: the Korova Milk Bar features in ‘A Clockwork Orange’, so this seemed like as good a tune as any:

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Wendy Carlos – Title Music From ‘A Clockwork Orange’

Walter from A Few Good Times in My Life pointed out that “…the opposite of universe might be the underground. So…”

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The Jam – Going Underground

It’s scary how that song is so relevant now, 35 years after it came out. “Times have changed”, some people say. I’d play them that and respectfully disagree.

Anyway, before I start going off on one, more Universal shenanigans. Here’s Alex G from We Will Have Salad:

“A nice easy link from ‘Universal’ to another well-known film studio: Columbia.”

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Oasis – Columbia

Walter continues the theme: “Universal is also a music label distributing music of various and different artists. So I suggest:”

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Tom Petty – You Don’t Know How It Feels

From the Universal links, it’s one small step to the universe, and space in general, and to our second new member of The Chain Gang of the week, abramson60, the 60th from the very noble Abramson family, as Adam Buxton would say:

Anyway, abramson60 has certainly got the hang of how to make sure you get lots of tunes played here: list of a load of songs he’d considered before finally plumping for a completely different one. I, of course, cannot resist:

“Universe would automatically take me down the space road, so you could have….”

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 Liz Phair – Supernova

“…or another of my pet favorites…”

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Julian Cope – Spacehopper

“…not forgetting that he went on to become the nation’s favourite spaced out artist.”

But, “…sticking with universe, The Rocky Horror Picture Show had long lasting and profound influence on the somewhat naive 16 year old me who first saw the film at the tail end of the 70’s. So my pick is ‘I’m Going Home’, not quite sure where to but somewhere in the outer reaches of space.”  I’m not sure I quite follow the link there, but as it’s your first visit, I’ll let it slide this time:

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Dr. Frank N. Furter – I’m Going Home

Over to The Swede from Unthought of, though, somehow next, who says:

“I’ll keep things cosmic and suggest ‘Space is Deep’ by Hawkwind – the studio version from ‘Doremi Fasol Latido’ please.”

Very well.

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Hawkwind – Space Is Deep

A couple of you suggested links from lyrics withing ‘The Universal’, which is fair enough and fine by me. For example, Rigid Digit from Stuff & Nonsense suggested:

“‘The Universal’ includes the lines:
“And to karaoke songs,
We like to sing along,
Although the words are wrong”

So .. mondegreens (misheard lyrics) and possibly the most well known: ‘Scuse me while I kiss this guy'”

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The Jimi Hendrix Experience – Purple Haze

Next up, Martin from New Amusements, who takes the “list a load of songs then pick a completely different one as their choice” approach adopted by abramson60 and combines it with Rigid Digit’s focus on the song’s lyrics:

“The Universal includes a line about ‘satellites in every home’ so we could go with that, enabling…”

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The Hooters – Satellite

“…or…”

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Lou Reed – Satellite Of Love

“…or…”

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Tasmin Archer – Sleeping Satellite

“…or, I guess…”

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The Tornados – Telstar

If I could just butt in for a moment, I can’t hear that record without thinking of this record (and vice versa) since I can’t help but think that while it’s not a straight-out sample, the synth melody line, owes more than a little debto the old instrumental Martin suggests:

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Saint Etienne – You’re In A Bad Way

Martin’s actual choice will follow in a moment, but props where props are due, the category it falls into was first suggested by The Robster from Is This The Life? (well, actually, it was first mentioned by Rigid Digit last week time)

“My link comes in the form of British Gas adverts. The Universal was, as you point out, used in an ad campaign for British Gas. So was ‘More Than A Feeling’ by Boston, which despite ticking all the middle-of-the-road 70s AOR boxes, is a damn fine tune and one I always find myself playing air guitar to. True!”

It may well be, but unfortunately that’s featured in The Chain before, so, as per the rules above, I can’t allow it this week. Sorry!

Tell you what, have another go:

“Another gem from the British Gas archive is the wonderful ‘Rescue Me’ by Fontella Bass which cannot fail to give everyone a lift on a Monday morning.”

Much better.

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Fontella Bass – Rescue Me

Back to Martin again: “…let’s go down the route of the Blur track’s British Gas-based ubiquity, all the excuse we need to have ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash’ by The Rolling Stones, since that tells us ‘it’s a gas, gas, gas.'”

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The Rolling Stones –  Jumpin’ Jack Flash

He’s still not done yet, mind:

“But I’d rather suggest a song I really like, so the gas connection allows me to pitch the much-less-played ‘It’s A Gas’ by The Wedding Present. Any excuse to get the Gedge out, after all.”

I could not agree more.

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The Wedding Present – It’s A Gas

Catchphrase time! If you’re suggesting that, then I’m suggesting this:

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T. Rex – Life’s A Gas

And as a special treat, here’s Marc Bolan performing ‘Life’s A Gas’ with Cilla Black, of all people:

The less said about that the better, I think.

But whilst we’re on adverts, here’s Snuff from their ace “Flibbiddydibbiddydob” album (these are so short, you may as well have two):

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Snuff – Bran Flakes

Snuff – Shake ‘n’ Vac

After those words from our sponsors, back to The Great Gog:

“‘The Great Escape album’ from which The Universal is taken also includes a song called ‘Top Man’. When I was younger (and a little less Great) I used to venture into Manchester and frequent a store of that name, and occasionally even buy something. Having done this, my then-significant other would drag me to where she wanted to buy stuff – Chelsea Girl. Obviously the title of a song by Simple Minds…”

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Simple Minds – Chelsea Girl

Well, if you’re suggesting that, then I’m suggesting this:

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Ride – Chelsea Girl

Sorry GG, I interupted, do carry on:

“…[Chelsea Girls is] also referenced on Mighty Mighty’s ‘Is There Anyone Out There?’ Which sort of links back to matters universal.”

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Mighty Mighty – Is There Anyone Out There?

Right, where next? Since we seem to have exhausted all of the possibilities of links to “The Universal”, how about links to Blur? Seems like a plan.

Over to Birthday Boy Rol (45 today!) from My Top Ten, then, with two and a half suggestions:

“Suggestion that needs no explanation: ‘Mr. Blur’ by Tom Verlaine.”

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Tom Verlaine – Mr. Blur

He continues: “Suggestion that leads a little more explanation: Blur used to be called Seymour. I’m sure someone will link to the obvious song from that (the one about a record company boss…”

You mean this one, I assume?

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Belle & Sebastian – Seymour Stein

“…so,” Rol continues, “I’ll point us towards the character of Seymour in the movie ‘The Little Shop of Horrors’ and suggest the song ‘Feed Me, Seymour’ as sung by the killer plant Audrey II (aka Levi Stubbs from The Four Tops).”

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Audrey II – Feed Me (Git It)

The Great Gog’s back:

As Rol has mentioned Seymour, the track that I always think of when I hear Blur’s previous name is ‘Read About Seymour’ by Swell Maps.”

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Swell Maps – Read About Seymour

Now, before he started listing spacey songs, abramson60 also proffered up a few relating to the name of Blur:

“Blur taken as unclear leads me to…”

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Lindisfarne – Fog On The Tyne

You can all count yourself lucky that I decided not to post the version with Gazza on it. Actually, that might have been quite appropriate, since writing and indeed reading The Chain often has the air of a hostage situation about it, so maybe we should expect him to rock up with a bucket of fried chicken and a fishing rod.

Anyway, back to you abramson60:

“…or maybe when everything clears…”

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Jimmy Cliff – I Can See Clearly Now

I’ve got Snuff covering that too somewhere, but let’s not overdo it, eh? That would take us over the 2 minutes of Snuff records mark, which would never do.

Any more, abramson60?

“Having said all of that I would much prefer to offer up Dr Phibes and the House of Wax Equations (any brownie points for extra long band names?) [Nope – Ed] and Hazy Lazy Hologram, link being obvious and in hazy, and everyone loves drug induced music, don’t they?”

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Dr Phibes & The House Of Wax Equations – Hazy Lazy Hologram

Back to Julian for his obligatory weekly suggestion of a record by Lambchop:

“A Blur is what the world is when ones had too many HIC!!

Where was I ?

Who fucking knows?

Oh yes its all coming back to me…..”

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Lambchop – The Man Who Loved Beer

And what of the individual members of Blur, there must be some links there, right?

Guess what, here’s abramson60. Again.

“Blur’s singer is Damon Albarn who is the son of Keith Albarn, who once managed Soft Machine, whose drummer Robert Wyatt went onto have a solo career, recording ‘Shipbuilding’ which as we all know was written by Elvis Costello, who took part in the Red Wedge tours along side Billy Bragg. So my suggestion has to be ‘Valentine’s Day Is Over’.”

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Billy Bragg – Valentine’s Day Is Over

I have two things to say about this. Firstly, I had no idea of the Albarn connection to Soft Machine, and secondly, abramson60 did suggest this back on February 15th, which makes his choice of Billy track a little more understandable.

But frankly, you had me at “Shipbuilding”:

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Elvis Costello & The Attractions – Shipbuilding

SWC’s back:

“Damon Albarn was the boyfriend of Justine Frischmann of Elastica. So let’s have ‘Stutter’ from them.”

The first record I ever bought by Elastica this, albeit on an NME compilation album of their Singles of the Week from 1993, and without doubt one of the finest ever songs about erectile disfunction.

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Elastica – Stutter

Charity Chic’s back, with the obligatory Clash record of the week. Don’t worry George, there’s a finite number of them that can be suggested:

“Damon Albarn was in The Good,The Bad and the Queen, as was Paul Simonon who wrote and sung ‘Guns of Brixton'”

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The Clash – The Guns of Brixton

Speaking of George, he’s been rather quiet so far this week, so here’s the first of his suggestions:

“Damon Albarn was/is also in a band called Gorillaz, and gorillas are in a branch of primates, as are monkeys, leading to ‘Monkey On My Back’ by The Triffids (from the Field of Glass EP). I think the song is not actually about monkeys.”

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The Triffids – Monkey on My Back

Well, if you’re suggesting that, then I’m suggesting this:

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Inspiral Carpets – Monkey On My Back

In fact, given his involvement with Gorillaz, you could describe Albarn as a…

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 The Maytals – Monkey Man

(My apologies, by the way: I realised I’ve misnamed the mp3 as Toots and The Maytals, rather than just The Maytals, but I really can’t be arsed with changing it.)

The Great Gog’s back again:

“I did have one more up my sleeve, but left it in case anyone else came up with it – they haven’t , so here goes. Blur’s lead singer is D. Albarn. Shuffling one of those letters to the left a bit allows me to type Dr. Alban, the early 90’s hitmaker who made such a lasting impression on me that I can only recall one of his tunes…”

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Dr Alban – It’s My Life

Hands down winner of the “Worst Record of the Week” award, there.

“Used in a Tampax advert at some point in the nineties too,” pipes up The Beard. Now, let’s not lower ourselves by making any jokes about that particualr subject. That’s it. None. End of. Period.

Instead, let’s move onto the other members of Blur, and focus for a moment on bass player Alex James. Over to you, George:

“Another Alex is Alex Harvey, so the song is from the first Sensational Alex Harvey Band album ‘Framed’, and ‘The Hammer Song’.”

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The Sensational Alex Harvey Band – The Hammer Song

Another from SWC next, I think:

“When he is not doing that [being in Blur] he schmoozes up to his famous neighbours David Cameron and Jeremy Clarkson. He also pretends to make cheese which gives us a lovely link to ‘Gorgonzola’ by Leslie Sarony.”

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Leslie Sarony – Gorgonzola

Mention any of the old music hall acts such as Leslie, and I’m afraid I can’t help thinking of this chap:

Back over to Rol, who might just see this post before his birthday’s finished:

“All this talk of Alex James’s cheese behooves me to suggest Copy Cats by The Humdrum Express, which features the lines…

“I read a Jamie Oliver’s Feastival review
Where ex-Top Gear presenters jumped the queue
To a sign publicising ageing sleaze
But it was Alex James’s aptly named new cheese”

(It also features the line “More Betty Than Swervedriver”, which I’m half thinking of stealing to rename my blog.)”

Bagsy and first dibs duly note.

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The Humdrum Express – Copy Cats

I may aswell chuck one in to the Alex-mix. When he isn’t making cheese, or being in Blur, he’s also popped up in some questionable novelty acts, most famously with Fat Les, but also in Wig Wam, a truly awful project that I’m not going to offend your ears by playing. His partner-in-crime there, though, was one Alison Clarkson aka Betty Boo:

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Betty Boo – Where Are You Baby?

Two band members left, and absolutely nobody suggested anything Graham Coxon-related so I had a quick shufty round and found that according to wikipedia, he appeared on Blue Peter twice as a child.

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Mike Oldfield – Blue Peter

But since all the rest of the band are getting at least two songs, we may as well have one of his singles. Friends of mine will attest that every time we’ve heard thisplayed out, I always point out that the intro sounds a lot like “Into the Valley” by Skids (Since nobody has ever agreed with me on this point, I’d post it so you could compare, but as it’s already featured on The Chain once before, I can’t. Who made these stupid rules up anyway??):

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Graham Coxon – Freakin’ Out

Which just leaves drummer Dave Rowntree, and a suggestion by The Beard:

“He shares his surname with the confectioners Rowntree. They are based in York and created the KitKat. York City’s Bootham Crescent ground was for a period renamed KitKat Crescent. ‘Crystal Crescent’ is a track by Primal Scream amd nothing to do with chocolate or the city of York.”

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Primal Scream – Crystal Crescent

Times may not change, by Primal Sceam certainly have over the years, haven’t they?

Finally, Rowntree has stood for election three times on behalf of the Labour party, losing on each occasion. Which leads me to this:

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Radiohead – Electioneering

Which just leaves us to reveal what the next record in the Official Chain is, and many of you will have noticed the absence of one particular song from the start of this post, when we looked at songs with the word “Universal” in the title. Many people wanted to suggest this, but Swiss Adam from baggingarea was the first out of the traps so the kudos and points are his this week:

“The Small Faces have their own ‘Universal’ which is a lovely song.”

Ain’t that the truth:

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Small Faces – The Universal

So, all that laves me to do is to ask for your suggestions, please, for songs which link to “The Universal” by Small Faces, along with a brief description of the link, via the Comments Section down below, in time for the next edition.

Let’s say that will be next week, and see what happens, eh?

More soon.

The Chain #33

So this is what Thursday looks like, is it? I’m not sure I care for it much. It’s no Wednesday, is it?

We ended last week with the 32nd record in The Official Chain, “Valley Girl” by Frank Zappa, and my usual open invitation for suggestions for songs which can be linked to that.

And, as usual, the usual diverse range of songs came in, linking a numerous amount of clever, corny, obscure, obvious, tenuous or terrific ways. This week, for a change (and because it’s a lot easier) we’re going to look at them in the order they came in.

Also this week, as I was struggling for ideas for my own suggestions, I seem to have developed a new catch-phrase.

First out of the traps this week was Charity Chic from Charity Chic Music, with a suggestion which truly fulfils the remit of the name of this here blog:

“‘Frank Zappa and the Mamas were at the best place around’ according to Deep Purple on Smoke on the Water”

Altogether now: Der-der-der, der-der-de-der, der-der-der-der-der…..

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Deep Purple – Smoke on the Water

That’s taken from their 1972 album “Machine Head”, an album which my brother owned when we were kids, on gatefold vinyl. When opened, this was the collage which greeted you:

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As you may be able to see, each of the band member has their photo with their name on the right hand side – there’s Gillan, Blackmore, Glover, Lord, Paice, and then on the left, just one photo bears a name, a name which my brother and I found hilarious when we were kids: Claude Nobs.

This sounded to us like one of those comedy innuendo names, like Ivor Biggun or Hugh G. Rection. But actually, Nobs is there for a reason. He does not appear on the record. He is not one of the sound technicians. During Zappa’s concert, when the fire that the song tells the story of broke out in the Montreux Casino, started by a fan firing a flare into the ceiling, Nobs was a hero, saving several young people who had hidden in the casino, thinking they would be sheltered from the flames.

He still has a funny name, mind.

Anyway, if you’re going to suggest that, then I’m going to suggest this version, just in case you think that what that song needs is less guitar riffs, and more salsa brass:

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Senor Coconut – Smoke On The Water

If that version isn’t on Strictly Come Dancing some day, then…well, I won’t have the faintest idea, as I never watch it.

Over to the Great Gog now:

“Frank Zappa’s band were the Mothers Of Invention which set me thinking about anything referring to invention / inventiveness or whatever, and inevitably our old friends, Manic Street Preachers cropped up with ‘Another Invented Disease’.”

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Manic Street Preachers – Another Invented Disease

I think sooner or later I’m going to have to draw up a league table of the acts who have featured the most in The Chain. The Manics have to be right up there, along with Kirsty MacColl and maybe The Bluetones.

“Also springing to mind on a separate train of thought,” continues the Great Gog, “was a band who I’m guessing didn’t name themselves purely to be next to Zappa in the record store racks, but achieved that anyway. That will be Zapp and the only song I can recall of theirs is ‘It Doesn’t Really Matter’ – and it didn’t to the Great British record-buying public at least, because it wasn’t much of a hit.”

And here’s why I think that was: because we just weren’t ready for someone trying to sound like Prince after he’d had a vocoder forcibly inserted:

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Zapp – It Doesn’t Really Matter

Here’s Rol from My Top Ten, with the first of many “Frank” links:

“Tom Waits – Frank’s Wild Years. I won’t come up with a better song than that this week.

Although I might come up with a few worse ones.”

Time will tell, eh, readers?

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Tom Waits – Frank’s Wild Years

And since we’re on Frank’s, well if you’re going to suggest that, then I’m going to suggest this:

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The Frank and Walters – After All

Time to welcome back Dirk from Sexyloser, conspicuous by his absence the past week or so, and, from the length of his suggestion, keen to make up for lost time:

“That’s an easy one and one that links to one of my favourite tunes in the history of the whole wide world ever: how cool is that? Now, Zappa had this song on the album “Ship Arriving Too Late To Save A Drowning Witch”, which was released in 1982. Now, if you have a closer look at the lyrics of “Valley Girl”, you start wondering who stole from whom when you take into consideration that The Valley Girls’ “Marina Men” (a m.i.g.h.t.y. tune, friends!) was ALSO released in 1982: if some expert now told me that the Valley Girls’ 12″ came out first, my life would be complete, believe me!”

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Valley Girls – Marina Men

“Plus,” Dirk continues, “in order to show you that I’m a friend of the stars: one of the first comments I received when I started sexyloser years and years ago came from Pamy out of The Valley Girls: she thought it was cool to see the record being brought up again some 25 years after its release. Had I already known about the Zappa – tune then, I would have asked her for the exact release date straightaway! So Pamy, if you’re reading this, who was first: you or Zappa? Also, as a kind reminder: I’m still waiting for this lyric sheet, alright?!”

I don’t think she reads this, Dirk. Not unless one of you is about to suddenly rip a mask away from your face to reveal your true identity, like the owner of the run-down, reputedly haunted, circus in every episode of Scooby Doo ever.

Charity Chic is back, with two more suggestions now, one absolute belter, and one…er…less so. I wonder if you can guess which one is which?

“The Skids who recorded the mighty ‘Into the Valley’ were from Dumfermline…..”

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Skids – Into The Valley

“So too is Barbara Dickson who recorded the not so mighty ‘Answer Me’.”

Don’t you go bad-mouthing Dickson on my watch, CC! For me, Dixon epitomises Saturday night TV in the 1970s, since she seemed to be the guest singer on every episode of “The Two Ronnies” ever:

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Barbara Dickson – Answer Me

Over now to The Robster from Is This the Life?:

“What immediately sprang to mind was Our Frank by Morrissey, but you had a Moz tune on the previous episode, so…”

Yes, so? That’s not a reason not to have another one by him this week:

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Morrissey – Our Frank

“…Fresh from seeing Pixies in Cardiff last night, and with my body still recovering from a full TWO HOUR onslaught in the mosh-pit, my mind turns to lead singer Black Francis. Now he has released records under the alternative name Frank Black. In 2000, with his backing band The Catholics, he recorded an album called ‘Sunday Sunny Mill Valley Groove Day’, the title track of which was a cover of the Sir Douglas Quintet track. The album was never officially released, although Frank did distribute some copies at gigs. He re-recorded the track for his 2005 album ‘Honeycomb’ while other tracks ended up as b-sides or on compilations. It also provides a double-link for The Chain!”

Frank + Valley = double- linker!

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Frank Black – Sunday Sunny Mill Valley Groove Day

Well, if you’re going to suggest that, then I’m going to suggest this, my own double-linker, one of the greatest Northern Soul tunes ever, and frankly (see what I did there), I can’t believe nobody else suggested it this week:

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Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons – The Night

Now if anyone was ever going to rip their mask off and reveal themselves to be Pamy from the Valley Girls, then surely it’s George:

“Frank Zappa’s middle name was Vincent. Which leads to Vincent Eugene Craddock, who was better known as Gene Vincent. So the song is Baby Blue.”

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Gene Vincent – Baby Blue

Here’s Rol, back again, with a suggestion which may, or may not, be worse than his earlier one. You decide:

“That would lead me on to Vincent Furnier, aka Alice Cooper. ‘School’s Out’ is too obvious, so how about ‘Teenage Lament ’74’?”

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Alice Cooper – Teenage Lament ’74

Time for something circular from Rigid Digit from Stuff & Nonsense now:

“Alice Cooper released two albums on Frank Zappa’s Record Label Straight. Ian Dury and The Blockheads sang ‘I Want To Be Straight’, and to complete the circle (back to Frank’s middle name) [and back to George’s suggestion, for that matter] he also recorded ‘Sweet Gene Vincent’.”

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Ian Dury & The Blockheads – Sweet Gene Vincent

Back now for his third suggestion, it’s Rol time again:

“…it just occurred to me that a Zappa is a good way of killing flies… as is Flyswatter by Eels.”

I do not recommend you using the song Flyswatter by Eels to kill flies, it’ll take you ages. You’d be much better off trying an actual flyswatter.

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Eels – Flyswatter

Before we’re completely over-run with Rol’s interjections, here’s a few suggestions by Martin from New Amusements:

“So many roads to take from this one, doubtless many cul-de-sacs…

The ‘valley’ connection: Generation X, Valley of the Dolls’…”

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Generation X – Valley Of The Dolls

“A ‘moon’ connection (since Frank co-wrote Valley Girl with his daughter, Moon Unit) – Moon Unit implies moon base, hence the ‘Space 1999 Theme’…”

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Barry Gray – Space:1999 (Series One Theme Tune)

(You did mean the Series One Theme Tune, right Martin? Pah, of course you did. Nobody would pick the Series Two Theme Tune. The Series One Theme Tune is the best Space:1999 Theme Tune ever, everybody knows that).

“A better ‘moon’ connection – Keith wrote, sang and drummed on the excellent ‘I Need You’ from ‘A Quick One’ by The Who…”

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The Who – I Need You

“…Another ‘valley’ connection: The Monkees, ‘Pleasant Valley Sunday’…But ultimately, I will revert to type. Yes, I want to pitch Pleasant Valley Sunday to you, because it’s utterly brilliant, Gerry Goffin and Carole King at their 60’s song-writing zenith. But, to maintain my indie boy credentials, can I hesitantly suggest The Wedding Present’s 1992 cover of same….?”

Oh, Martin. Never be hesitant round these parts when suggesting The Wedding Present. Besides, when they released a limited edition 7″ single at the start of the month, every month, throughout all of 1992, with an original song as the ‘A’ side and a cover version on the ‘B’ side, I bought the lot, and still have them all. And their version of Pleasant Valley Sunday was on the flip-side of May’s “Come Play With Me”:

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The Wedding Present – Pleasant Valley Sunday

Time to welcome back Julian Badenoch for a second week on the trot, and after I’d spent a few days scratching my head and trying to work out where I knew his name from after he kindly dropped by last week, I was reminded – admittedly by him – that he writes, as he calls it the “unreliable music blog”: Music from Magazines (“unreliable” seems a little overly self-deprecating, Julian. I think “sporadic” is more appropriate):

“This may be wrong for the girls but …Valley sounds like valet which leads to valet parking, and Grace Jones’ instruction to ‘Pull Up To The Bumper’…”

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Grace Jones – Pull Up To The Bumper

Now I’m not the biggest fan of Ms Jones generally – we got off to a bad start when she battered Russell Harty about the head – but that’s an absolute stone cold classic (I’ve not said that for ages, I don’t think…)

Anyway, Julian proceeds: “…which could be paired with ‘Relax’ [I’m skipping that one, as I’m not quite sure I follow what the link is; doubtless I’ll get it the second I press Publish] or even ‘If It Don’t Fit Don’t Force It’…”

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Parliament – If It Don’t Fit (Don’t Force It)

Next! Over to Alyson from What’s It All About Alfie?, permanently scuppered in her efforts to get her suggestions by a combination of a) being in work and b) those fast-fingered blogging boys:

“…as I have absolutely no indie boy credentials whatsoever to maintain, I can go in a totally different direction. One of the first songs I can think of that links to the word Moon, is by Al Jarreau and it’s his theme from the TV Show ‘Moonlighting’. I mention this only because a certain Chain Ganger, who shall not be named, recently revealed a first album purchase which did kind of link to that show!”

I’m not going to mock. I bought a single from the same album. It most definitely wasn’t my first single, so I cannot even afford myself the luxury of that excuse.

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Al Jarreau – Moonlighting

Here’s a little know factoid for you: Al’s surname is actually spelt Jarrow. His parents adopted this as their family name after they took part in the 1936 Jarrow March. However, when he started earning his corn as a soul singer, young Al decided to change the spelling from ‘Jarrow’ to ‘Jarreau’ because he didn’t think being associated with the Tyneside town with the same name made him sound “suave” enough.

100% true, that. Except for the bits that aren’t. Which is all of it, obviously.

“Other than that all my Moon suggestions come from way back, Moon River, Blue Moon, Moonlight Serenade etc. or are by Showaddywaddy (and we won’t go there). Slightly more recently there is ‘Dancing In The Moonlight’ by Toploader (this millennium anyway, just) [DON’T YOU BLOODY DARE SUGGEST THAT!!]. The one I’ll go with as my actual suggestion [Phew! Crisis averted]however is going to be ‘Moonlight Shadow’ by Mike Oldfield (featuring the vocals of Maggie Reilly). As ever I don’t know if its cool or uncool to like Mike Oldfield around these parts but not averse to hearing a bit of ‘In Dulce Jubilo’ at this time of year.”

Also a single I bought when I was a kid, so it’s a thumbs-up from me:

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Mike Oldfield – Moonlight Shadow

Hands up who needs a bit of Badger in their life?

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Thought so. Off you snuffle, Badge:

“Now valleys. They are found in the country as are girls which leads us to ‘Country Girl’ by Primal Scream…”

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Primal Scream – Country Girl

(Is it just me, or is that sleeve strangely reminiscent of The Wannadies’ “Bagsy Me” album, released in 1997, almost 10 years earlier…..?

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I’m not playing anything from it, jus’ sayin’ like.)

Sorry, Badger. Floor’s all yours again.

“Or if we want to go a bit seventies doll is another word for girl which takes us to ‘Valley of the Dolls’ by strangely absent Scottish dance guru Mylo.”

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Mylo – Valley of the Dolls

That’s a fair point, what has happened to Mylo?

“SWC will be along later with his suggestions,” wraps up Badger, in what looks suspiciously like an audition for hosting duties on some interactive music blog, like that’s an idea that would ever take off, “I think he was going down the Frank route. Or something to do with Lithuanians.”

Huh? Lithuanians?

And here is he, right on cue. Badger and SWC both write When You Can’t Remember Anything, so it’s quite nice that their suggestions have come in next to each other, not least because I only have to type their blog name once.

Anyway, SWC, what’s all this about Lithuanians?

“So…in the city of Vilnius in Lithuania there is a statue of Frank Vincent Zappa. There is a reason it is there, but I can’t remember what it is. [You can read it here, if you so wish to do – Helpful Ed] As I’ve stated Vilnius is in Lithuania which gives us a lovely link to ‘Lithuania’ by Jaga Jazzist.”

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Jaga Jazzist – Lithuania

“In addition there is a street in Berlin named Frank Zappa Strasse (its in Marzahn, check it out…) which gives us two options – the brilliant ‘Berlin Got Blurry’ by Parquet Courts …”

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Parquet Courts – Berlin Got Blurry

“…or the godawful ‘Take My Breath Away’ from homoerotic classic ‘Top Gun’. Your choice….”

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Berlin – Take My Breath Away

In case any of you are unsure as to why SWC refers to Top Gun as being homoerotic, then watch this, written and performed by Quentin Tarantino from early 90s indie-flick “Sleep With Me” (which, by the way, is definitely Not Safe for Work, containing, as you would probably expect from anything written and performed by Tarantino, a fair degree of effing and jeffing)

Now, I’ve noticed a scarcity of records vying for the title of “Worst Record of the Week” this week, so, time for me to wheel out my new catchphrase.

If you’re going to suggest that, then I’m going to suggest this:

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Infernal – From Paris To Berlin

Europop at it’s most….erm…most distinguished there.

As an aside, do you remember when in 2006 they re-recorded that for the football World Cup, which was being held in Germany? No? Have a listen to this (not the official video, needless to say – all traces of that seem to have been wiped from all corners of the internet):

England got to the last eight that year, going out on penalties to Portugal. I think they deliberately lost so that we didn’t have to hear that rubbish ever again. Until today.

Here’s Rigid Digit, back to inject some class back into proceedings:

“Frank: Frank Bough presented BBCs Grandstand – all the big sporting events, mainly Football, Rugby League, Horse Racing and Snooker were covered every Saturday Afternoon. ITV offered an alternative with World Of Sport fronted by Dickie Davies which focused on Wrestling, Darts and Stock Car Racing.

Which leads to:”

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Half Man Half Biscuit – Dickie Davies Eyes

There’s another band who must feature in the “Most Suggested” list. Not that I’m complaining. I’ve written before how that contains one of my favourite rhyming couplets ever.

Hold up, old Goalhanger Rol’s back, hovering ready to pounce should another suggestion leave a gaping goal, which as we all know by now, is what I do.

“Frank Bough would lead me either to ‘Make It Right’ by Tim Buckley …”

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Tim Buckley – Make It Right

“…or ‘Spank’ by Jimmy “Bo” Horne. Both, for the same reason.”

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Jimmy “Bo” Horne – Spank

Well, if you’re suggesting that….altogether now……then I’m suggesting this (see, catchy, innit?):

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Spanky Wilson – Sunshine of Your Love

And just in case you don’t know what Rol and I are referring to, it’s to the broadcasting career ending expose of Bough, when it was revealed he enjoyed attending S&M dens, dressed in stockings and suspenders, and indulging in a little light flagellation.

Over to George again now, and you may recall that last week George suggested a tune by Emerson Lake & Palmer, and the next day Greg Lake dropped dead. Let’s see who he has in the cross-hairs this week:

“I can get a link to the Clash, but I’m not going to [regulars will know why – Semi-Helpful Ed]. Frank Zappa was made a special ambassador for Czechoslovakia by then President Vaclav Havel. Vaclav Havel was a founder of Charter 77 (formed in 1977, and isn’t that the title of Clash song…?) so I am of course suggesting a track from Talking Heads’ first album, 77, namely ‘Don’t Worry About The Government'”

So tune in tomorrow for tributes to one of the late founding members of Talking Heads:

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Talking Heads – Don’t Worry About The Government

Here’s The Beard with his usual clutch of contributions:

“Valley Parade is the home of Bradford City FC. The dreadful nineties outfit Terrorvision hailed from Bradford. I stood next to their lead singer at a Supergrass gig at Leeds Town & County Club in 1996. He was wearing, if memory serves me right, awful trainers. I can’t remember what made them so particularly awful but since I always associate Terrorvision with bad footwear. As awful as his trainers were they were nowhere near their single Tequila in the scale of awfulness. Bile inducingly bad. Tequila is of course a type of alcoholic drink. Better songs loosely linked to alcohol, to name just a few, are:”

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Rupert Holmes – Escape (The Pina Colada Song)

(I have genuinely never heard that record as being described as “better” than any other, so fair play for buying in to the ethos of this place, trying to justify those records traditionally considered “guilty pleasures”, which we all know don’t exist. Well, not in the land of music, anyway)

He’s not done yet though:

“‘Velocity Girl’ by Primal Scream (“here she comes again, with vodka in her veins”)”

If I hadn’t posted it yesterday, this would undoubtedly have featured today. We’ll call it an honorary mention this time, and we’ll try to think of a reason to post it some other time. Sorry!

“Or…”

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Nouvelle Vague – Too Drunk To Fuck

Well, if you’re suggesting louche cover versions of alcohol based beverages, then I’m going to suggest this louche cover version of an alcohol based beverage (Wasn’t quite as catchy that time, was it? Mental note to self: new catch-phrase needs some polishing):

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Dexys Midnight Runners – Marguerita Time

No, I didn’t quite believe it existed until I heard it either.

Oh, wait. The Beard’s thought of another one:

“And ‘I Got Loaded’ by Peppermint Harris. I think that’s his name anyway.”

It was indeed, so-called because of his world-renowned minty fresh…erm…”Aris” (look it up):

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Peppermint Harris – I Got Loaded

To round things off this week, I’ll hand you over to babylotti:

“Going to go all Antipodean on you here:  Valley makes me think of ‘In the Valley’ by Midnight Oil…”

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Midnight Oil – In the Valley

“…The Oil’s Rob Hirst filled in for Crowded House live when Hessie was ill, so my favourite from them, ‘Fall at Your Feet’…”

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Crowded House – Fall at Your Feet

I’d forgotten how many songs I know by them.

“…and Nick Seymour from Crowded House [if Midnight Oil are ‘The Oil’, are Crowded House not ‘The House…? – Facetious Ed] is the brother of Mark Seymour from Hunters & Collectors, so I’ll go for the oft covered ‘Throw Your Arms Around Me’ by them…”

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Hunters & Collectors – Throw Your Arms Around Me

Well, if you’re going to suggest that, then I’m going to suggest…no, enough already.

Here’s the next song in The Official Chain, and there’s a few “close, but no cigars” being handed out this week, goes like this:

“…Frank Zappa’s daughter, Moon Unit sang on ‘Valley Girl’. So from Moon Unit to…”

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33.Nick Drake – Pink Moon

So, your suggestions please, via the Comments section below, for records that you can link, and explain the link in your suggestion, to Nick Drake’s “Pink Moon”.

We’ll be back to Wednesday next week again, so you have one day less than usual. Also, as it’ll be Christmas week, any festive suggestions would go down a treat.

See you next week!

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.

Friday Night Music Club

It’s a very special Friday Night Music Club this week for two reasons: firstly, in the UK it’s Easter Weekend, so a long weekend (No work til Tuesday!); secondly, as I mentioned in last week’s post, I’m going to see Underworld tonight.

In my younger days, I was always quite resistant to dance music. If a tune didn’t have guitars on it, I wasn’t interested.

But over the years, my resistance got chipped away, and so I thought tonight I’d play you a selection of dance tunes which were milestones for me.

So, first up is a stone-cold classic, the biggest selling 12″ of all time:

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191. New Order – Blue Monday

Now I wish I could say that I bought this when it first came out. Well, I could say that, but it’d be a big fat whopping lie. In 1983, I had no idea who Joy Division were, or that New Order had risen from their ashes, but I did see the now legendary appearance on Top of The Pops where they insisted on playing Blue Monday live, and after which, famously, the single went down in the charts.

In 1988 I went away to college, and by 1989 I was DJing the Indie Night every other Tuesday. The night was, frankly, dieing on its arse. Some weeks we were lucky to get 20 people through the door. And then three things happened:

  1. Rave culture kicked in
  2. Closely followed by “Madchester”
  3. A load of Indie bands that I liked suddenly started messing around with dance beats and getting their records remixed by respected DJs.

And so suddenly, we were able to play all of these great records (not the rave ones, though) at our little Indie Night and so for a very short while these records moved centre stage and we had our finger right on the pulse.

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192. Primal Scream – Loaded (Edit)

Did you manage to get the “Oh Yeah!” bit in the right place? I always feel so chuffed when I do. The simple pleasures that life brings, eh? Pathetic really.

One Tuesday night, a couple of lads from Nottingham, decked out in hooded tops and flared jeans, pressed their faces up against the shatterproof glass which surrounded the DJ booth in the Students Union and mouthed “Got any Mondays?” at me. I hadn’t (my finger wasn’t quite on the pulse at this point, more tapping to see if I could find a good vein) but said if they wanted to bring some in I’d be happy to play it. 10 minutes later, after they had bombed back to their flat to collect, I had the next record held in my hands. The title intrigued me. I played it. The dance floor didn’t exactly fill, but quite a few joined the two lads Daints and Peetey (the former of which I would form a band with shortly afterwards) as they started to frug away in what I learned sooner after was a fair approximation of Bez:

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193. Happy Mondays – 24 Hour Party People

Many years later, when I had finally started going to club nights, we went to see Jon Carter play in The Emporium in Cardiff. I remember I was just leaving the dancefloor when the vocal part of “24 Hour Party People” kicked in and I found myself scrabbling to get back to the dance floor sharpish. One of the biggest, non-checmically induced, rushes I ever had.

There was another band who ditched their early sound to start producing records which were neither Rave nor Madchester, a band I loved when they were Grebo, and loved even more when they started messing around with loops and samples. This is one of their last singles, probably one of my favourites, which always takes me back to a basement indie club in Cardiff called G.W.’s that Daints and I often frequented after we’d left college:

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194. Pop Will Eat Itself – R.S.V.P. (7” Mix)

The success in reviving the Indie Night, for which I naturally took all the credit, led to me being asked to co-DJ the Saturday night slot with a lad who we nick-named Dave Doubledecks on account of him running his own mobile DJ outfit, but whose name was actually Phil. This night exposed me to a great many other dance records which were by now, circa 1990, the main staple of the UK Charts, and there were some that, much as I absolutely no way on earth would have admitted to liking at the time, I secretly did, and love to this day. I make no apologies for their inclusion here. So there.

First up, an early project by one William Orbit:

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195. Bassomatic – Fascinating Rhythm (7′ Mix)

The first time I heard the next record, I was at the club night at the Students Union, in all honesty cribbing up on what I could play the following Saturday night. The DJ dropped this and I was stunned. Not because of the saucy “Je T’aime”-ness of the vocal track, but because a record that slows down that much in the middle just shouldn’t work. It did though; the place went fucking apeshit for it.

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196. Lil Louis – French Kiss (Original Mix)

Much as you might hate this next record, deride it for pinching the vocals from Loleatta Holloway’s “Love Sensation” and then getting a model to mime to it, in 1989 (and surprisingly often these days) if you wanted to get everyone in a Students Union chart night to dance, this was your weapon of choice:

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197. Black Box – Ride On Time

These days better known as producers, remixers, call them what you will, this next lot, appropriately, met at The Hacienda in 1988:

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198. K-Klass – Rhythm Is A Mystery

Not really a “dance” record as such, next is one of the greatest records ever made, a guaranteed floor-filler, and the subject of one of the biggest travesties in UK Chart history:

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200. Deee-Lite – Groove Is In The Heart (Peanut Butter Radio Mix)

I say travesties because this record only ever got to Number 2 in the UK Charts. It had sold exactly the same amount of copies to be the joint number-one , along with “The Joker” by The Steve Miller Band, a record which had been re-released due to its use in a Levi Jeans ad. “Groove…”‘s placing second was due to a rule instituted in the 1980s, which stated that in the event of a tie, the single with sales that had increased most from the previous week would reside above the other. The week before, “The Joker” had been one position lower in the chart the previous week than “Groove Is in The Heart”, and thus “The Joker” was therefore deemed to be the bigger-selling of the two.

This was the first and only time the rule was ever implemented, and it’s since been ditched. Not that anyone pays attention to the Charts anymore.

Right, I could literally sit here and post hundreds of these until well into the wee small hours, but if I don’t get moving soon I’ll be missing the gig tonight.

So I’m going to sign off by breaking the golden rule of any mix-tape, CD compilation, or playlist: by playing three records by the same artiste.

So, from the first Underworld album I ever bought at the time it was released, “Beaucoup Fish”, their third with Darren Emerson having joined their ranks (but fifth overall), and which swiftly led to me going out and buying the previous two:

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201. Underworld – Push Upstairs

And finally, from their “A Hundred Days Off” album, possibly, probably, my favourite track by them:

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202. Underworld – Two Months Off (King Unique Sunspots – Vocal mix)

I say probably, as it’s a pretty bloody close call with this:

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203. Underworld – Cowgirl (Bedrock Mix)

Hopefully, we’ll get some, if not all, of them tonight.

And I’ll leave you with their latest single, the opening track from their “Barbara, Barbara, We Face A Shining Future” album, and which has first song of the night written all over it.

More soon.

Friday Night Music Club

Evening all. Hope you’ve all had a decent week since I last graced these pages with anything new for you to chow down on. It’s Friday Night and that can only mean one thing: it’s time for the latest additions to the Music Club canon.

And this week, we’re going a bit country. Well actually, quite a lot country.

No wait, come back!

It’s not all ten gallon hats and Republican rednecks, I promise! That’s Country and Western, and we are most definitely not going Western tonight.

So saddle up (doh!), stick around, and you never know, you might learn – or even like – something.

First up, and to carry on where I left it last week, a song by The Fall. Well, almost. A song which The Fall released as an extra track on the UK CD version of their 1991 album “Shift-Work”.

The song was written by J.P. Richardson, who is perhaps better known as The Big Bopper, and perhaps even better known for having died in the same plane crash as claimed the lives of Buddy Holly and Richie Valens – the infamous “day the music died” Don McLean wrote about in “American Pie”.

Alas, Richardson didn’t have chance to record it before his untimely death, leaving the late great George Jones to record this rollickingly definitive version:

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97. George Jones – White Lightning

George of course is renowned for two things: being married to Queen of Country Tammy Wynette, and having a drink problem that makes it a minor miracle he lasted until he reached the grand old age of 81. The latter makes his choice to cover this record – a tale of family-produced moonshine – rather unsurprising.

Two examples to illustrate how much George liked a tipple: when he turned up at the studio to record White Lightning, he was so bladdered he needed around 80 attempts to get it right. The bass player, Buddy Killen was rumoured to have so many blisters on his fingers from playing it so many times, he not only threatened to quit the recording session, but also threatened George with a bit of ABH. When the session producer ultimately chose the first cut they had done that day to release, I’m sure he saw the funny side though.

The second example is one that has gone down in country music folklore. Here, then, from his aptly-titled autobiography “I Lived To Tell It All”, in his own words:

“Once, when I had been drunk for several days, Shirley [his second wife] decided she would make it physically impossible for me to buy liquor. I lived about eight miles from Beaumont and the nearest liquor store. She knew I wouldn’t walk that far to get booze, so she hid the keys to every car we owned and left.

But she forgot about the lawn mower. I can vaguely remember my anger at not being able to find keys to anything that moved and looking longingly out a window at a light that shone over our property. There, gleaming in the glow, was that ten-horsepower rotary engine under a seat; a key glistening in the ignition.

I imagine the top speed for that old mower was five miles per hour. It might have taken an hour and a half or more for me to get to the liquor store, but get there I did.”

You will notice that booze plays quite a part in a few of tonight’s choice. Before we go any further though, I owe you one Fall song, so here’s their version (and unofficial video):

Moving on, another country legend who I’ve waxed lyrical about on these pages before, and another artist who, I think it’s fair to say has battled a few of his own demons in his time:

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98. Kris Kristofferson – Out of Mind, Out of Sight

“Let’s keep drinking ’til we’re blind”, indeed.

As I’ve mentioned before, I was brought up listening to Kristofferson, and whilst he has continued recording, railing against the authorities and touring right up to the present day (I was gutted to be too slow to manage to grab a ticket for his recent gig at the Union Chapel in Islington, but did manage to catch about half of one of his gigs in Bristol a few years back – I’ll explain why some other time), for me his real purple patch was from 1970 – 1972. If you’re curious to dig a little deeper (though they will be featured at some point in these pages if you want to stick around), or if you like the kind of alt-country that folks like Wilco or Ryan Adams produce, then I can heartily recommend 1970’s “Kristofferson” (which was re-released in 1971 under the title “Me and Bobby McGee” after Janis Joplin had released her simply stunning version of said song), 1971’s “The Silver Tongued Devil and I” and 1972’s “Jesus Was A Capricorn”, each displaying his flawless ear for a tune.

Now, just to prove that country music ain’t just about boys and their booze, here’s Michelle Shocked from her sophomore album “Short Sharp Shocked”, with a tale about Saturday night drinking and the rush to get to the local liquor store before it closed (presumably not on a lawn-mower):

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99. Michelle Shocked – (Making the Run to) Gladewater

As I mentioned last time Michelle’s name came up on the pages, she seems to have developed some rather questionable views on gay and lesbian issues which I’m not going to give time to here, partly because I don’t think I agree with her views which seem rather unclear at best, but partly because if I do I’d have to mention Piers Morgan, and we all know the only thing worse than having questionable views on gay and lesbian issues is being Piers Morgan, so I’ll leave it there. If you’d like to read more though, you can do here.

So, having established booze is playing a large part in tonight’s Yee-Hawing, we may as well expand that to include the other thing on your bona fide country star’s list of forbidden fruits. So here, for the none-more-country-named Broken Family Band:

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100. The Broken Family Band – The Booze And The Drugs

It seems apt that a song about booze and drugs, two things which will feature fairly large in my A History of Dubious Taste thread, should be the 100th record here.

Surprisingly, The Broken Family Band are not, as you might assume from their name and their sound, from some sleepy southern state backwater; rather they actually hail from that most un-country-music-esque of towns: Cambridge, England. It’s not just their country credentials which are exemplary: they recorded two sessions for Peel, did a cover version of Neutral Milk Hotel’s “The King Of Carrot Flowers Part 2” on their mini-album “Jesus Songs”, and in 2007 their Welcome Home Loser” album was included in The Guardian newspaper’s ‘1000 Albums To Hear Before You Die’.

Next on to a band who from their album titles (such as Kiss My Grass: A Hillbilly Tribute to Kiss”) you can tell a) love a pun (their very name is a pun on Aussie rockers AC/DC), b) love a cover version, and c) haven’t really grasped the idea of making decent album covers. Yup, from their “Weapons of Grass Destruction” (see??) album, it’s Hayseed Dixie, and no prizes for guessing which of their oh-so-many- covers I’ve plumped for (I’ve not mentioned the folks who recorded the original for absolutely aaaaaaaaages):

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101. Hayseed Dixie – Down Down

Relax ladies, they’re married.

No further comment needed, I think we’ll leave that there, shall we?

To more contemporary tuneage, and two songs which are in no way country, other than having the word “Country” in their titles (and the first one featuring a banjo). First, the lead single from their eighth studio album, which I’m slightly surprised to learn, is their highest ever UK chart-placed single. No further introduction required, the magnificent:

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102. Primal Scream – Country Girl

A change in pace now. In 1997, fresh(ish) from winning the race to Number One in the UK Singles chart, a Pyhrric victory if ever there was one, given the battering they subsequently took in the album sales, Blur regrouped and came back with an album which was such a departure from their previous “sound” they were almost unrecognisable.

Oasis may have won the day in terms of popularity and record sales, but for my money, with the follow-up to 1995’s “The Great Escape”, Blur demonstrated a musicality and diversity which their rivals could only dream of.

It can’t be underestimated quite what a surprise it was back in January 1997 when Blur released first the lead single (and UK Number One) “Beetlebum”, swiftly followed in April by second single (and UK Number Two, appropriately) “Song 2”, and there, sandwiched in between, was the wonderful, if not wonderfully titled, “Blur” album, from which this next track is lifted:

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103. Blur – Country Sad Ballad Man

Bit different to “Country House”, that, innit?

And finally, what better way to round things off for tonight than a truly iconic record from a truly iconic album capturing a truly iconic live performance by a truly iconic country star, perhaps the greatest country star:

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104. Johnny Cash – Folsom Prison Blues

You don’t need me to explain this one do you? Thought not.

More soon.

And please remember to drink responsibly.

 

 

Sunday Morning Coming Down

A triple header for you this morning.

First up, often described as the modern Nancy Sinatra & Lee Hazlewood….

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Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan – Honey Child What Can I Do?

…and so we may as well have the 60s Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan….

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Nancy Sinatra & Lee Hazlewood – Some Velvet Morning

…and so we may as well have this cover of the same, often derided, but which I rather like…

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Primal Scream & Kate Moss – Some Velvet Morning 

More soon.

Glastonbury, So Much To Answer For…. (Part 3)

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Mention Glastonbury to anyone who’s never been, and they will say one or both of the following two things:

1) they will make some reference to you, and everyone else who has ever been to Glastonbury, being a drug taking hippy,

2) they will say something about how crappy the weather always is.

Neither of these things are, of course, entirely true.

You may have noticed that in my last two posts, whilst I haven’t exactly banished the spectre of Glastonbury as a haven for spliff-puffing, pill popping longhairs (it isn’t, though there is a fair bit of hippyness going on) I have tried to shy away from mentioning the weather, partly because it’s so damned predictably English to talk about the weather, but mostly because on the whole it wasn’t too bad in 2003 and 2004.

In fact, I came away from Glastonbury 2004 with quite the tan, mostly because I’d lost my cap on pretty much the first day, and hadn’t bothered applying any sun cream for the rest of the weekend. On my first day back in work afterwards, I was met with a couple of “Fucking hell, where did you go on holiday?”s, although this was probably because my bald bonce had burned so badly I was quite literally able to peel a whole layer of skin off in one go, leaving me with what appeared to be a swimming cap made of my own skin, like some macabre tribute to Duncan Goodhew made by Hannibal Lecter.

So that was the look I was rocking post Glasto 2004: draw a line through the middle of my forehead and I was bright sore pink above it and tanned brown below. I must have looked like I was going to a fancy dress party, had taken it waaaaay too seriously, and was going as a Big Dog’s Cock.

But I digress. There’s really no getting away from it, the weather at Glastonbury 2005 was terrible. We (a considerably smaller posse this time, but I really have lost track of who was there this year) arrived on the Wednesday of our hat-trick year, pitched up and wandered round, and the weather was gorgeous, no sign at all of the quite literal storms to come. This continued through Thursday, and by Thursday evening we were all beginning to believe that we were about to experience that most rare of things: a sunny Glastonbury festival.

No such luck. On Thursday night/Friday morning, the rain came down. And down. And down. Camp sites were flooded, tents and their belongings swept away. Proceedings at the Pyramid were delayed starting due to flooding, with the first two acts, Adjágas, and The Subways having to bow to the storm and the threat of electrocution.

When I was researching (alright, trying to jog my memory) about the 2005 festival, I came across this on YouTube, footage taken by a festival goer showing before, during and after the storm. It kinda has the feeling of one of those camcorder horror films like Blair Witch Project, or Cloverfield that were all the rage a few years ago; for the 1:40 seconds at the start you just know something terrible is going to happen and then…boom!

Still, at least there wasn’t a repeat of the Infamous 1998 Flooded Dance Tent Incident….You couldn’t make that…er…shit up.

But something happens when the Glastonbury Festival is hit by extreme weather. All the festival goers seem to come together in defiance, determined to have a good time no matter what the skies may throw at them, and assuming that your tents survived the deluge that’s about all you can do: chuck a waterproof on, decide “Aww, fuck it”, neck some scrumpy, and soldier on. That’s British Bulldog Blitz Bravado, right there.

Anyway, tracking down footage of some of the acts playing in 2005 proved rather difficult, presumably because most of the TV companies covering the event decided to follow the example of the Pyramid on Friday morning and elected not to risk electrocution by filming much bar the headliners.

As a result, I have nothing to offer you in respect of Editors on The Other Stage on the Friday morning, after which we trudged over to the newly named John Peel Stage to catch Maximo Park. We didn’t manage to see them, but we did manage to stand outside the rammed tent and hear them, a bit. You can get a better idea of how they were here.

Next it was over to The Pyramid to see the legend that is Elvis Costello. Sometime in the late 1980s I’d picked up a copy of his “The Man (The Best Of Elvis Costello)” album. This was back in the days when people released a “Best Of..” album when they had established themselves, and had a wide body of work to choose from and show off about, rather than after two or three albums with a couple of new tracks thrown in to sucker you into buying it. I’m with Dave Gorman on this one. (Hopefully, that link should take you to a rather brilliant analysis of the content of Scouting For Girls’ Greatest Hits album. Scroll up to the start of the chapter if it works. If it doesn’t, then buy the book from which it’s lifted “Too Much Information: Or: Can Everyone Just Shut Up for a Moment, Some of Us Are Trying to Think” here)

It would seem that the British Bulldog Blitz Bravado spirit hadn’t quite kicked in yet; much as I loved his set, Elvis went on record saying it was “fucking dreadful” and pledged never to play in the UK again (a threat he has, thankfully, reneged on since, returning to the festival in 2013, sporting, it has to be said, a rather natty hat)

Here’s him doing sticky Valentine unrequited love classic Alison, and segueing into something by some other chap also called Elvis. Not sure what happened to him.

Next up, Doves. Not much to say here, other than I miss them a lot more than I thought I would. Their slightly brooding but captivating sound certainly seemed to sum up how everyone was feeling as the weather resolutely refused to improve.

Next, The Killers. Promoting their first album, the aptly titled Hot Fuss, they were much anticipated by all that had not yet seen them. I, and most of our gang, being super-cool indie kids, had already seen them, headlining the NME Awards Tour earlier that year, with support from (and get this): Bloc Party, The Futureheads, and Kaiser Chiefs. Now THAT’S a line-up.

We’d decided they were okay enough to warrant us sticking around and to watch them again, though this decision had more to do with the mud underfoot and the fact that The White Stripes were on next as headliners than any particular desire to watch The Killers again. That said, they put on a pretty good show, opening with my personal favourite by them, Somebody Told Me, followed by Jenny Was A Friend of Mine (a song which, to this day, my friends and I are unable to say the title of without doing it in that ridiculous yelp Brandon Flowers does when introducing it here), before rounding off things with the song that has perhaps the most cringe-worthy rhyming couplet ever in it All These Things That I Have Done The reaction of people to this song baffles me to this day, all eyes closed, hands and lighters in the air like it actually means something. I’m with Bill Bailey on this one.

Much like Adam Buxton in Commentary Corner, I can’t resist looking at the comments left under a clip on YouTube, and some of the screaming outrage on show under the clip of Mr Bailey, left by Killers fans, is the internet version of those earnestly singing along to utter claptrap. Like Daniel Pacheco, for example, who says “The phrase in context of the song makes perfect sense. Hell even taken out of context it makes perfect sense. Bill Bailey is obviously retarded”. Well, no, Daniel, it does not, and I note that you haven’t actually gone as far as to explain why you think it makes sense. I would challenge him to expand on his theory via the YouTube comments, but I won’t, partly because I’d like to think I’m above that sort of thing, but mostly because I’m not a masturbating fourteen year old. Sighs…I wish….

Anyway, The White Stripes are next, and they do their thing, which is Jack tossing off some awesome riffs whilst Meg just twats the fuck out of her drums, the two seemingly bearing no relation to each other, yet somehow working brilliantly at the same time. We get every White Stripes song you could wish for: Blue Orchid, Hotel Yorba, Jolene, My Doorbell, I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself, and, of course, Seven Nation Army to name but a few that anyone has actually heard of.

So ended Friday, and off to our tents we all trudged (eventually), hoping Saturday would be a little drier.

It was, but not much. No more floods, thankfully, but still not exactly flip-flop weather.

My day was spent flitting between The Other Stage and The Pyramid. Apparently Goldie Lookin’ Chain played The Pyramid on Saturday morning, and a tiny part of me wonders if this is where my confusion with them playing in 2004 comes from, but a larger part of me remains fairly sure the line up was as I remember. Anyway, I couldn’t find any footage of them in 2005, so I guess I’ll never know.

Next up: Kaiser Chiefs. As already mentioned, we’d caught them on the NME Tour earlier that year, and until that night I’d been totally non-plussed by everything I’d heard from them. But that night they completely blew me away: they were first on the bill, started their set off with a blistering rendition of  “Na Na Na Na Na”, took no prisoners after that, and to my mind utterly upstaged all the acts that came after them.

Their set at Glastonbury followed pretty much the same pattern, and whilst The Pyramid Stage is a rather different proposition to Cardiff University’s Great Hall, they still were pretty darn good. Here’s two out of the three of their early singles that have the trademark “Whooooooooaaaaaaahhhhhhh” in them: Oh My God and, of course, I Predict a Riot.

Next on The Pyramid, Ash. It’s incredible to think that they were still in their late-twenties by 2005; they seemed to have been around for ever, churning out indie classic after indie classic for ten years or so. They don’t need any more introduction, so here’s A Life Less Ordinary and Burn Baby Burn.

Back over to The Other Stage now for the obligatory Echo & The Bunnymen set, The Killing Moon being an obvious high-light, closely followed by Interpol.

Interpol are one of those bands that seemed to have made one awesome album (Antics, for the record) and several kind of okay ones. Luckily, they were promoting said album in 2005, so we got Slow Hands and Evil (I’ve never seen them since, but I imagine they’re staples of every set).

Who’s on next? Wait…is that….Fuck, run!! Head for the hills!! It’s Kasabian!!!

Luckily, over at The Pyramid there was New Order, back in the days when they were still speaking to each other, kind of, occasionally, if they had to. This was a proper tear through their back catalogue, plus a couple from their slightly iffy new album, so we got some Joy Division (Love Will Tear Us Apart, of course), some classic New Order (Temptation) and Keith Bloody Allen, coming onstage riding a pantomime horse, comic genius that he is, so he could “join in” on World In Motion.

Choice of Saturday night headliners had been a bit of a quandary for me this year. 90% of our group elected to watch Razorlight on The Other Stage; promoting their one half decent album (Up All Night) they were probably the wise choice. However, one of the group really wanted to go to The Pyramid and watch…Coldplay. Somewhat bashful after how rude I was to the girl the previous year who wanted to watch Muse rather than Orbital, I think I decided I needed to do something to sort my karma out (now there’s some hippy bullshit, right there).

So, I volunteered – yes, volunteered!! – to go watch Coldplay with my buddy. Now that’s friendship.

They couldn’t be that bad, now could they? I reasoned.

Oh, but yes they could.

I can honestly say that I have never been so deathly bored at a gig in all my life. The one highlight, if you can call it that, was their cover of “Can’t Get You Out Of My Head“, played as attribute to Kylie, who had to pull out of doing the headline slot on Sunday due to fairly well-publicised health problems.

Needless to say, they turn one of the finest pop records of the 21st century into a dull dirge. Oh and Chris, don’t give up the day job for comedy.

People, if you buy Coldplay records, CDs or MP3s, or go to their gigs, or buy their T-shirts, then please stop. You’re just encouraging the morose posho dullards.

Sunday arrived, and the weather didn’t seem to be showing any sign of improvement. And then Brian Wilson played The Pyramid, and suddenly everything was alright with the world, for, just like during Belle & Sebastian’s set the year before, the sun suddenly came out to play, only this time we had Surfin’ USA, California Girls and a whole host of other Beach Boy-tastic tunes rather than wry Scottish indie pop songs about someone called Judy dreaming about horses to celebrate to. I have deliberately not posted a link to film footage of the set, partly because I again struggled to find much of decent quality, but mostly because if I had, you would have to watch Brian looking…well, let’s just say he didn’t really seem to be fully aware of where he was, what was going on, and what he was doing, for the majority of the set. But no matter, Glastonbury loved him for bringing the California sun with him.

Next up: Garbage. I don’t mind a bit of Garbage, and actually met lead singer Shirley Manson many years ago when she was backing singer in Goodbye Mr Mackenzie (CLANG! – the sound of a name drop there). Actually, she won’t remember it (nor should she) and I certainly don’t. I’ll explain this some other time. Needless to say, there is no gossip for you to get your teeth into.

Garbage were here in support of their fourth album, “Bleed Like Me”; an album that I would struggle and fail to name a single song from, much the same as with their third album, whatever that was called. Thankfully, they knew what to do in a festival atmosphere, so we got the decent singles from their first two (good) albums: Stupid Girl, Push It, and the apt-if-only-you’d-been-on-stage-a-couple-of-hours-earlier Only Happen When It Rains

Next: Primal Scream. I love a bit of Gillespie, Innes and Co., and now the sun was out, and about to go down again, I, along with probably about 85% of the rest of the crowd wanted a set of sunny-Screamedlica songs to compliment our new found joy and dryness. The signs were good when the into music was the chorus of the single version of “Come Together”, but The Scream don’t really “do” what you expect, so instead of summery dance records, we got their Kraut-rock set, which was fine, they were still fantastic, just not what most of wanted, I think. They started by launching into a blistering version of Accelerator before ending up with Movin’ On Up via Swastika Eyes .

I say “ending up”, but anyone who was there, or watched it on television, will know that their set didn’t end after Movin’ On Up. Well not straight afterwards. Bobby was clearly not impressed that Basement Jaxx were now headlining the Sunday night in place of Kylie, and decided that he wanted to a) berate the crowd, and b) play another song. Some of his taunts are just priceless (“Do you wanna dance? Yeh?? Well you should’ve been here fifteen fucking years ago”). This, I have decided, was definitely aimed at me and the rest of the Screamadelica crowd. He had a point.

So, on to Basement Jaxx. You’ll recall that many of my fellow festivalees had chosen them over Paul McCartney the previous year, and whilst I have no regrets about seeing the former mop-top, I have to admit the Jaxx were incredible, giving Glastonbury the dance Bobby refused to and Kylie would have done.

Again, for some reason, footage seems to be in short supply; here’s U Don’t Know Me from Glastonbury, and Oh My Gosh, which isn’t, despite it being the first time I ever heard it, and it became possibly my favourite song by Basement Jaxx.

Oh My Gosh was a new track on Basement Jaxx’s “The Singles” album. Which I bought. What does that say about me, Mr Gorman?