Same Title, Different Song

In 1982, Dave Robertson of Stiff Records made a suggestion to a new label signing: record three cover versions to attract everybody’s attention, then release an original composition and it will be a massive hit.

The band dutifully obliged, releasing covers of The Dixie Cups “Iko Iko”, Shirley Ellis’ “The Clapping Song”, and Inez & Charlie Foxx’s “Mockingbird”.

And then, the killer song what they wrote themselves (to quote Ernie Wise), which in 1983 gave them their biggest hit, their only UK Top 10 (See? Dave knows best), and an absolute stone-cold classic to these ears. I speak, of course, of this:

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The Belle Stars – Sign of the Times

Of course, The Belle Stars weren’t the first act to record a hit single by that name, nor would they be the last.

Take Bryan Ferry, for example. In 1978, on hiatus from Roxy Music, he released his fifth solo album, “The Bride Stripped Bare”; this was the second single of four lifted from it, and the only one to grace the UK Top 40, and even then only reaching No. 37:

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Bryan Ferry – Sign of the Times

An honourable mention at this point to Prince, who would get a bit more written now had he not abbreviated the word of to o’, which saves me precisely no time to either write or type:

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Prince – Sign O’ The Times

You’ve probably guessed where I’m going next. Yup, in one direction only. (See what I did there?)

I’m surprised to find that I really like this next song. For a start, I don’t think I’ve liked any songs released by his former band, but then again, I don’t think I’ve ever really listened to anything by them, so don’t be too flabbergasted if at some point one of theirs crops up in the This Is Pop thread elsewhere on these pages at some point.

I’m also surprised because at just over five and a half-minutes long it seems just a teensy bit too long given that, well, nothing really happens in it, it doesn’t go anywhere, it just flits between falsetto and what appears to be an impression of Kelly Jones of Stereophonics fame.

But sometimes you find yourself liking a record not because it fits the remit and sound of the type of thing you like, but despite it. And such is the case with this (which I’ve deliberately misspelled in the hope that I’ll avoid a take-down notice):

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Hairy Stiles – Sign of the Thymes

There. I’ve said it. And I feel so much better for it.

More soon.

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Same Title, Different Song

May I start this post by taking the unprecedented step of asking that you go away and visit fellow bloggers and much valued Chain Gangers SWC and Badger’s place, When You Can’t Remember Anything

The boys have just finished their mammoth 2016 postings, a song (and often more) a day listing of their top 200 songs, compulsory reading in my book. Two things I learned from their blog last year: firstly, that there are many, many tunes which had never crossed my radar which are bloody ace, and secondly that both SWC and Badger are bloody good writers: every post is entertaining, usually funny, occasionally incredibly moving, so y’know, don’t go just to download the tunes, read what they’ve written too. You won’t regret it.

The boys have just started a new project, the does-what-it-says-on-tin “Three Songs With The Same Title”, where each week they will post three songs with the same title, then reveal which song will feature the following week, and invite readers to contribute their suggestions, just on the off-chance that they’ve missed one.

As they say “This is another series in which we are sort of ripping off someone else (read blatantly), basically all the good ideas for music blogs have gone…so we are taking existing ideas and erm, twisting them.”

S’ok, they mention the similarities between this and my weekly Chain post, so I’m not saying anything they haven’t mentioned themselves; I’m not stealing their thunder or trying to take credit for their idea. Besides, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right?

But what that does mean is that I’m going to retire this thread to give the boys a clear run. What can I say? It’s tough being a trail-blazing pioneer…. (my tongue is placed firmly in my cheek as I type that, by the way).

But let’s be honest: I rarely post anything on this thread and they’ll do a way better job, more regularly, on their blog than I have done here anyway .

So I’ll sign off with one last post on this thread, and chaps: my apologies if this was a song title you planned on using later on.

The other night – bizarrely, the night before the WYCRA boys announced their new theme –  I dreamt of three songs with the same name title (or as I thought, two with the same name and one slightly different one) but on closer examination, I find that all three are ever so slightly different.

So let’s start with this one and build from there:

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Charlie Rich – The Most Beautiful Girl

I genuinely have always thought that was called “The Most Beautiful Girl in the World,” which means you can probably guess where I’m going next:

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Prince – The Most Beautiful Girl in the World

Incredibly, that remains Prince’s only UK Number One to date. I mean, what does a guy have to do to get his second? He died last year and still we didn’t manage to make anything from his back catalogue top the charts. Shame on us, it’s the very least he deserved.

That said, for me “The Most Beautiful Girl in the World” is not one of his better records, it’s certainly not one of my favourites; actually, and I appreciate this may be sacrilige to many of you, I’d rather listen to this duo than that tune:

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Flight of the Conchords – The Most Beautiful Girl (In the Room)

“You’re so beautiful…like a high class prostitute

You’re so beautiful, you could be a part-time model

(But you’d probably have to still keep your normal job)”

Genius.

And that’s Same Title, Different Song done for the time being, idiosyncraticly signing off with three songs with different titles. I’m a maverick, and no mistake.

Over to you chaps.

More soon.

That Summer Feeling #30

For fear of overkill, apart from marking their passing, I’ve shied away from posting much Bowie or Prince since their sad, sudden demises earlier this year. For example, the other week, when writing the post about my brother’s birthday and his musical inclinations as we grew up, I completely omitted, deliberately, to mention he was the only person I knew (at the time) who bought the “Purple Rain” soundtrack. It was too soon, I thought.

Time to redress that. Here from his genre-busting “Sign O’ The Times” album is an absolute doozy:

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Prince – Play in the Sunshine

As I was listening to that, it occurred to me there’s a whole instrumental break in it that sounds like it’s lifted from a soundtrack. Now, Prince loved making movies to go with his albums, but I wasn’t aware of him doing one for “Sign O’ The Times” so I did a little research, and boy oh boy I’m glad I did, for I stumbled across possibly the best review of an album I’ve ever read.

This, from “The Village Voice”:

‘Sign O’ The Times…[is the sound of]…the most gifted pop musician of his generation proving what a motherfucker he is for two discs start to finish.’ The author, Robert Christgau, goes on to praise Prince’s ‘one-man band tricks…[which] make Stevie Wonder sound like a struggling ventriloquist’ along with his ability to express real emotions: ‘The objects of his desire are also objects of interest, affection, and respect. Some of them he may not even fuck.’

Sheena Easton was not available for comment.

Moe soon.

Sunday Morning Coming Down (All Other Music is Temporarily Suspended edition)

Morning all. As with last night’s Late Night Stargazing edition, video clip only til I get home when I’ll add an mp3 link for y’all.

I posted the original of this on The Day The Music Died, so I shan’t bang on too much about how great it is.

Here’s The Be Good Tanyas shuffling take on”When Doves Cry”. S’nice enough, I suppose. Again, posted more to illustrate the diversity of the musical acts that His Purpleness touched (metaphorically) than anything else. Oh, and the video isn’t really a video, if you know what I mean.

And now, here’s the mp3 link:

The Be Good Tanyas – When Doves Cry

More soon.

Late Night Stargazing (All Other Music is Temporarily Suspended edition)

It’s my Dad’s birthday this weekend, so I’m away at my folks for the weekend, which means no access to my library of tunes.

I’d planned to prepare all of the weekend’s posts before I left, but Windows decided it wanted to rob me of a couple of hours of my Friday night doing an upgrade (and could I spot the difference after it’d finished? What do you reckon..?) and so consequently I didn’t get everything done before I set off. So you’ll forgive me for posting a video clips for the next couple of posts. I’ll add mp3 links when I get home.

So, having focussed on others covering Prince recently, here’s Prince covering someone. Radiohead, specifically. I don’t usually like to post live stuff, as it’s often of variable quality. This, however, is, as you’d expect, just incredible:

And now, here’s the mp3 link:

Prince – Creep (Live at Coachella 2008)

More soon.

All Other Music is Temporarily Suspended #5

Here’s the next batch of Prince cover-oddities.

First up, Sufjan Stevens, who for reasons best known to himself, decided to release this on one of his “Silver & Gold” Christmas albums. Go Figure.

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Sufjan Stevens – Alphabet St.

And at the other end of the spectrum, originally released as an extra track on CD2 of their single “Come On”, which was lifted from their mostly acoustic “Stoned and Dethroned” album. But don’t let that lull you into a false sense of security; this is closer to how they sounded circa “Sidewalking”, in other words it is The Jesus & Mary Chain doing what The Jesus & Mary Chain do best: be noisy, sleazy and just a little bit glam, to a backdrop of a lot of feedback.

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The Jesus & Mary Chain – Alphabet Street

And finally, as has become traditional in this mini-series, the original and greatest version:

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Prince – Alphabet St.

More soon.