The Chain #20

A warm welcome to all the Chain Gang for the latest instalment in…erm…well, The Chain, obviously.

It seems you’ve decided to take it easy on me this week, with, at the time I’m starting to write this, just the 16 suggestions (plus mine) received. So far. Can’t rule out the occasional late arrival though.

So to recap: we ended last week with The Smiths “Rusholme Ruffians/His Latest Flame (Medley)”, and of course we were looking for your suggestions for records which can be linked to that.

Now you know the score by now: at this point I would normally simply go through the list of suggestions, in the order that I received them, until we get to the end, I suggest mine, reveal what the actual link from the official BBC The Chain is, and invite your links to that ready for next week.

This week, however, I’m going to mix it up a little bit, because, well frankly, the last suggestion I received simply has to be first.

Here’s George to explain:

“I’ve got a link to Ant and Dec………..”

Is it just me, or has it suddenly got very cold in here?

“In The Smiths the drummer was Andy Rourke. PJ O’Rourke is an American journalist……..and PJ and Duncan were in Byker Grove (not actually filmed in Byker) and they released a few singles, for example ‘Lets Get Ready to Rumble’ And PJ and Duncan are better known (according to my partner) as Ant and Dec!”

I love the double disclaimer in George’s suggestion, not just the “according to my partner” bit, but also spelling Rumble in the way he has, instead of the way that we all know it was actually spelt on that legendary single. Like this:

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PJ & Duncan – Let’s Get Ready to Rhumble

Fear not. That’s not the last we’ve heard of from George this week. And I should stress, his suggestions get better, not worse.

So, to The Swede, of Unthought of, though, somehow with a short, but sweet, suggestion:

“From Smith to Jones – Meilyr Jones with the terrific ‘How to Recognise a Work of Art’.”

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Meilyr Jones – How To Recognise A Work Of Art

If you don’t know that record – as I didn’t until The Swede suggested it and I went a-huntin’ – I would heartily recommend you give it a go. It reminds me of My Life Story crossed with Johnny Boy’s “You Are The Generation That Bought More Shoes”, and if that doesn’t tempt you, then I don’t know what will. In fact, if I can go all Victor Kiam for a moment, I liked it so much I’ve gone and got me the album, 2013, too. So, y’know, cheers Swede!

Anyway, back to business. Here’s babylotti:

“Mint Royale released a single called ‘From Rusholme with Love’, one of their most well known tracks is ‘Sexiest man in Jamaica’, not many know the sample was lifted from a live Selecter album with Prince Buster introducing the song in his own humble way, so I suggest that song: The Selecter ft Prince Buster, Rough Rider”

I just confess, I’d often wondered where that sample was lifted from. Cheers for enlightening me.

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The Selecter feat. Prince Buster – Rough Rider (Live)

In case you don’t know the Mint Royale tune babylotti refers to, it’s this:

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Mint Royale – Sexiest Man In Jamaica

And before we go any further, it would be improper not to doff a cap, raise a glass, or show respect in whatever way you think is appropriate, to the now late, always great Prince Buster who passed away last week.

Look out, here come George again.

“I’ve got a link involving Mick Hucknall………..”

No, it’s definitely got colder again.

“Johnny Marr of The Smiths was born in Manchester as was Mick Hucknall….(wait, it gets better) and Mick Hucknall recorded a trbute album of songs of Bobby “Blue” Bland (I promise you it gets better very soon……), for which Mr Hucknall was fortunate not to be sent to prison, and amongst the many fine songs recorded by Bobby “Blue” Bland is one from his R&B era, ‘Little Boy Blue’ (which is my favourite of all his songs).”

Judge for yourselves, Chain Gangers.

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Bobby “Blue” Bland  – Little Boy Blue

Better than his first suggestion, no? And at least it isn’t an actual record by the Tiffany-from-EastEnders’ vomit covered singer (look it up).

Ok, here’s SWC from When You Can’t Remember Anything:

“So Rusholme, Google tells me, is in Manchester. The Smiths also famously put Strangeways on their album sleeves which is also in Manchester. The Mull Historical Society also sang about Strangeways in their minor classic ‘Strangeways Inside’”

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Mull Historical Society – Strangeways Inside

That’s an album I’ve owned for ages but have never really got into. You’d think having seen them, albeit on the main stage at Glastonbury, on a gloriously sunny Saturday afternoon, when I was too mashed to move having over-done the space cakes would endear them to me, wouldn’t you?

“Or just post Sackville by the Carpets” continues SWC.

That’s more like it!

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Inspiral Carpets – Sackville

We are now about to go fully Manc.

I’ll hand you over to Badger (also of When You Can’t Remember Anything) for the next link:

“Taking the Manchester thing that my esteemed colleague SWC mentioned and twisting it slightly by introducing ‘Shadows of Salford’ by Doves”

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Doves – Shadows of Salford

“But…” Badger continues, “Manchester is linked to Liverpool via a motorway. If you turn off that motorway near the end you end up near ‘New brighton’. Which has a promenade famously sung about by The Boo Radleys.

Well, it certainly has a promenade The Boo Radleys sang about. Famously, though….?:

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The Boo Radleys – New Brighton Promenade

You’ll recall that last week Swiss Adam from baggingarea managed to correctly guess the next song in the official chain. Let’s see if he can manage it again this week, shall we?

“To jump on Badger’s suggestion, Doves also had M62 Song which handily links Manchester and Liverpool westwards”.

No, he can’t, is the short answer.

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Doves – M62 Song

“I love all this talk of the M62” proffers The Great Gog. “It’s Immaterial started off in Liverpool and hypothesised about heading out to Manchester on Driving Away From Home (Jim’s Tune). – “it’s only 39 miles and 45 minutes…and that’s my birthplace you know”. Mine too!”

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It’s Immaterial – Driving Away From Home (Jim’s Tune)

One of my favourite records ever, that. I remember seeing them perform it on Top of The Pops back in 1986 and incredulously thinking: “What on earth is that??”

It’s a cracking anecdote, that, isn’t it?

“An alternative would be that in Rusholme Ruffians,” The Great Gog continues, “Morrissey makes reference to a speedway operator. The word speedway to me and many other Mancunians of my age evokes memories of the great Belle Vue Aces team of the 1970s, so perhaps a spot of Kathleen Edwards and “12 Bellevue” would be in order.”

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Kathleen Edwards – 12 Bellevue

This is where I piggy-back on The Great Gog’s idea. I made two semi-suggestions myself, both of which stem from his. The first was “Speedway” by Morrissey, but it seems a bit lame to link a record by The Smiths to a record by Morrissey, so I’ll scrub that.

However, I’m sticking with this absolute corker:

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Miaow – Belle Vue

Now then. We have an announcement. Regular Chain Ganger What’s It All About, Alfie? isn’t a spy at all, as we’d all suspected from her reluctance to divulge her name. No: it transpires that she has a name, and lo! It is Alyson.

Here’s her suggestion:

“Coming from the far north I get my English place names a bit muddled and in my head I got Rusholme and Rushden mixed up. I seem to remember when listening to football results being read out on a Saturday that there was a team called Rushden & Diamonds. Got me, in a very round about way, to thinking about the sadly missed Prince and one of my favourite songs from him – Diamonds & Pearls.”

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Prince & the New Power Generation – Diamonds and Pearls

Now, on to my remaining suggestions. I have to admit I was struggling a bit this week, figuring that most of you would go with links to The Smiths, to Rusholme, to Rank, but that very few of you would come up with anything linked to Ruffians. So, I flicked through my thesaurus (which I really should refer to again to come up with some alternatives for the word “suggestions”) which proffered the word “Barbarian”. Which leads me to this:

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Voice of the Beehive – There’s A Barbarian In The Back Of My Car

And I was going to leave it there, but I happened to notice for the first time that that was co-written by 1980s grebo Zodiac Mindwarp, which leads me to this:

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Zodiac Mindwarp & The Love Reaction – Prime Mover (Automatic Cannibal Mix)

Look out, George is back, and he’s taking the starting point for his third and final suggestion (which was actually his first…confusing doing this in a random order, innit?) as the album that The Smiths “Rusholme Ruffians/His Latest Flame (Medley)” is lifted from, Rank, and links it:

“…to J Arthur Rank (the British film producer) then using rhyming slang (“I’m just off for a “J Arthur” – a spot of one-handed lovemaking) to end with The Vapors song Turning Japanese, a song allegedly about Onanism – but the writer says that this is wrong.”

I have to say I’m rather disappointed if that’s the case. I’ve lost count of how many people I’ve told that is what the song’s about. Gah! Egg all over my face!

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The Vapors – Turning Japanese

Here comes Charity Chic:

“Staying on the ranking theme can I have the greatest one hit wonder of all time and a song which I think has featured on this series before (It hasn’t, or rather if it did, I forgot to tag it, although it has featured on this blog fairly recently – Ed.): Uptown Top Ranking by Althea and Donna.”

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Althea & Donna – Uptown Top Ranking

“If there is a rule about songs not featuring twice,” CC continues – there isn’t but I think we should perhaps introduce that rule now. Don’t want to make things too easy for me, now do you? –  “Ranking Full Stop by The Beat please.”

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The Beat – Ranking Full Stop

Time for the last of the suggestions, and I’ll hand over to Alex G from We Will Have Salad, who, rather annoyingly from my perspective, has a good memory:

“Well, you did lay down the challenge, so… The Smiths obviously links to Will Smith, who was half of DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince, and thereby had a hit with “Summertime”. You really should listen to your friends when they tell you it’s one of the two greatest records with “summer” in the title.”

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DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince – Summertime

I remain unbowed. I’m not saying it’s a bad record (although I have probably said that at one time or another). I’m just saying that if I have to pick my favourite two songs with the word “summer” in the title, I’m going for “Hot Fun in the Summertime” by Sly & The Family Stone and “Here Comes The Summer” by The Undertones every time. But each to his/her own, and all that.

And that’s the end of that, and you probably will have noticed that normality has been restored, and there’s been no  correct guesses as to the official link this week. As usual, that’s because your suggestions are all really good, and as usual, the official one is ever so slightly underwhelming:

“Another famous ‘Smith’ is Cure frontman Robert…”

The song, on the other hand, is terrific. But you already knew that, right?

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20. The Cure – In Between Days

And that’s it for another week. I would think most of you know what to do now, but we’re having a few more visitors to these shores recently, so I’ll recap: send me your suggestions for songs that you can link to The Cure’s “In Between Days”, along with a description of how you have got to your suggestion, via the Comments section below. All suggestions welcome.

See you all same time, same place, next week.

Oh, and more soon, obviously.

All Other Music Is Temporarily Suspended #2

I’ve decided that I’m not going to write a tribute to Prince here.

You know I love Prince. Anyone who loves music loves Prince. You love Prince or you wouldn’t be reading this now.

Nope, can’t face writing those sentences in the past tense just yet.

Moreover, any musician who says they haven’t been influenced or inspired by Prince is either a liar or not worth listening to, or both.

So, I thought rather than write about how terribly, terribly shocked and saddened I am about his sudden death (I am, but you know that, because you are too), I thought I’d demonstrate the breadth of his appeal, by posting covers of his songs by a wide range of his peers, along with his own version. So that’s what I’m going to do for the next few days.

And since we’re still all in shock, there seemed only one place to start:

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Sinead O’Connor – Nothing Compares 2 U

Many would consider hers to be the definitive version. Personally, I prefer the version by the man himself:

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Prince And The New Power Generation – Nothing Compares 2 U

Certainly, you would have to go some to top those versions. So quite why Stereophonics decided to bother is beyond me:

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Stereophonics – Nothing Compares 2 You

Ok so, it was for charity. That’s no excuse. Next time, boys, just sit in a bath of baked beans or something.

Finally, the original version:

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The Family – Nothing Compares 2 U

More soon.

Friday Night Music Club

Evening all.

Just so you know, this week’s selection comes with one of those Parental Guidance stickers right across it.

Also, I’m writing this with the Wales v France match on the TV in the background, so if this is posted a little later than usual, you’ll know why.

Let’s get straight to it; we’ll pick up where we left off last week and a song that in all honesty should be the theme tune to this thread:

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132. St Etienne – Join Our Club

Released in 1992, as you can see as a double A-side with “People get Real”, which the band had wanted to release as a single in its own right, but met opposition from their record label, Heavenly. So, they set about creating the most commercial record they could, and “Join Our Club” was the result. This was the second single to feature Sarah Cracknell, after founder members Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs had ditched the idea of using a variety of lead singers – a concept which features (and works, but very little that St Etienne produces doesn’t) heavily on their debut album “Foxbase Alpha”, but which the duo decided against once they had worked with La Cracknell.

Next, to New Young Pony Cub (or NYPC as they are apparently now known), and this oft-over-looked single from their second album:

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133. New Young Pony Club – We Want To

New Young Pony Club are one of those bands that don’t really ever seem to have quite broken through, despite supporting Lily Allen on an early tour, and also claiming a spot on the 2007 NME Indie Rave Tour, along with the likes of CSS, The Sunshine Underground, and Klaxons. I suspect that CSS and Klaxons, indie-press darlings that they were at the time, probably gained most of the attention on that tour.

An ex-flatmate of mine told me once that the next band had won some TV talent show or another – suffice it to say it was The X Factor – but since he also once tried to convince me that every song title on Andrew W.K.’s “I Get Wet” album has the word “Party” in it, and since his favourite groups were Kasabian and Mumford & Sons, and since he once came home telling me he’d just heard the most awesome Britpop band ever (he was talking about Longpigs, who you know, are alright and of course gave us Richard Hawley, but…), and since he used to eat Doritos whilst sitting on the toilet, I am, frankly, sceptical. If he’s right about any of those points (particularly the Doritos bit), I’m sure one of you will enlighten me.

Anyway, here’s:

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134. Fangs – S.I.C.K.O.

And well, that leads me rather nicely onto this:

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135. The Charlatans – Weirdo

When you think about it, it’s a miracle that The Charlatans are still going, let alone that they’ve been one of the most consistent UK singles bands for the past twenty-going-on-thirty years; when they started out they were considered little more than Madchester wannabes (a tag which, I’m pleased to say, they’ve consistently proved wrong on many times since, having outlived all of the main scene protagonists. No need for The Charlatans to reform, nosireebob. And no seven year wait for a second album, either) and they’ve constantly been beset with drama and tragedy. In 1992, original keyboard player Rob Collins managed to get himself mixed up in an armed robbery being committed by a friend, and unwittingly ended up being his getaway driver. He ended up getting a four month stretch at Her Majesty’s Pleasure for that. Rob’s car related bad luck didn’t end there though: he was killed in a car crash in 1996. In 2013, drummer Jon Brookes died from a brain tumour that had been diagnosed in 2010.

But The Charlatans always seem to bounce back, and of all the varied and wonderful singles they’ve released, “Weirdo” is probably my favourite, not least because the 12″ single contains the US version of “Sproston Green” which they always, but always, end their live sets with.

Anyway, since we seem to have drifted into the territory of songs with vaguely insulting titles, we may as well have the king of such things:

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136. Goldie Lookin’ Chain – Your Mother’s Got A Penis

You have to love ’em, don’t ya?

Well, we’re now into Parental Guidance time, so please only continue if you are above the age of 18 and have the bill-payer’s permission. Or something.

Have they all gone? Good, then I’ll continue.

A song now that I mentioned in passing on these pages some time ago:

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137. Fatboy Slim – Star 69

…and which I’m therefore not going to dwell on any further here. It just fits here, okay?

Many years ago, when I was working as a “chef” in a motorway service station restaurant, I bunked off one Sunday to spend the day with my friend Richard, who had invited me and a few others round for a day of roast dinner, drinking and watching films. The only film I can recall that we actually watched that day was “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” starring Whoopi Goldberg. I remember nothing about the plot.

So why am I mentioning this now, I hear you wonder? Well, the only thing that I do remember is Richard commenting that “Nobody swears like Whoopi swears”. That may have been true in 1986, but no longer I fear. I say this not in any kind of “Kids of today, eh?” rhetoric, but because…well…here’s Peaches:

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138. Peaches – Fuck The Pain Away

Saucy.

And speaking of sauce, no selection of rudeness would be complete without a nod in the direction of the Purple One:

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139. Prince – Sexy M.F.

Much as Fatboy knew that releasing a single with the words “What the Fuck” repeated quite a few times was unlikely to attract much airplay and so tucked it away as a AA-side, Prince knew to abbreviate his title and provide an edited version for radio use.

A change of pace now. Just as bands often punctuate their live sets with slower songs to give the audience a chance to get their breath back, so does Friday Night Music Club, and the moment has arrived where I get to do one of the things I love to do most these days: have a good sit down.

Still room for some abbreviated swears though.

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140. John Grant – GMF

And whilst we’re having a few moments of quiet cursing, here’s eels, who aren’t afraid to dispense with the abbreviations:

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141. eels – It’s A Motherfucker

Many years ago, I had a (now ex) friend round at my place once when I happened to play “Gorecki” by Lamb. If you don’t know the song, it’s a quite, quite beautiful, fragile thing, not a million miles away from Massive Attack’s “Teardrop”, neither of which would be out of place in my “Late Night Stargazing” thread (and which will feature there soonish, once I stop thinking of songs I’d rather post there). Anyway, she had never heard it before, and made me play it another two or three times. As she loved it so much, I did what I often do when someone tells me they like a song I’ve played them: I made her a mix CD with it on.

She was very grateful. Or rather, she would have been had I not, in her words, “totally ruined it” by placing this song immediately afterwards:

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142. Tenacious D – Fuck Her Gently

I am 46 and single. That may go some way to explaining why.

It seems appropriate, then, that I post this next: a band that I’m quite simply staggered to see I’ve not posted anything by here before. This is something I shall have to rectify immediately:

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143. Teenage Fanclub – Some People Try to Fuck With You

I went to see The Fannies (see? even their nickname is rude) in Bristol about ten years ago, when they were promoting their greatest hits album “Four Thousand Seven Hundred and Sixty-Six Seconds – A Short Cut to Teenage Fanclub”, and I took the opportunity to purchase some official merchandise, namely a t-shirt bearing the band’s moniker upon on it. I have subsequently learned that wearing such a t-shirt gains you some disapproving looks from people who are unaware of the band’s existence. I no longer wear it outside.

It’s not often that I post a Number One single on these pages, but here is one such occasion:

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144. Cee Lo Green – Fuck You

Of course, Cee Lo had to change the lyrics to “Forget You” in order that the single might attract any airplay, but we’re having none of that cleaned-up-version nonsense here tonight.

Now to something a lot less well known, which is a shame as it’s rather fine:

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145. The Bird and The Bee – Fucking Boyfriend

(Apologies if I seem to be rattling through these now. It’s because I am. Got a bit too engrossed in the rugby, see).

So, finally, the closing track from their first album “Life’s Too Good”, an album which properly introduced us to the wonderfully bonkers Bjork (though the Festive Fifty-topping “Birthday” had seriously whetted our appetites). This is one of the few songs in their canon not to include Einar butting in with an incoherent rant, a practice which always came perilously close to spoiling their songs in my book. Almost, but not close enough.

I was once discussing Welsh popsters The Automatic with a work colleague, who bemoaned the presence of Alex Pennie on their early records (Y’know, when they were kinda famous); he hated his vocal style and found him intrusive.

“Ah,” I said, nodding sagely “like Einar from The Sugarcubes.”

He looked at me blankly.

“I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

I have rarely felt older.

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146. The Sugarcubes – Fucking In Rhythm And Sorrow

That’ll do you for tonight.

More soon.