Be Llŷrious

One of the most joyous things about mine and Llŷr’s friendship was that we both knew how to make the other one laugh. A lot. I don’t think I’ve ever managed to make somebody laugh as much as Llŷr, and I’m damned sure nobody ever made me laugh as much as he did.

Making Llŷr laugh was one of my favourite things to do, because he was so funny to watch when he laughed, especially when I’d said something a little close to the mark and he tried to suppress it. You could see his face going bright red, his eyes bulge, his shoulders would begin to shudder as he clutched his sides and attempted to hold them in check. Usually, he would cave in, and would literally roll on the sofa laughing; other times he’d just have that great big grin on his face as he giggled away to himself. If I managed to time it just right, I could make him spray whatever he was eating or drinking out of his mouth.

As I mentioned in a recent post, when we lived together – mostly before he got ill, but we endeavoured to keep it going after that too – it was a constant, if unspoken, quest between us to get the other to crack up. We had honed it down to a fine art, sometimes not even needing to speak, a quick glance in his direction at the right time let him know exactly what I was thinking and that was enough to set him off. Often this was done purely for comic effect, but it would be true to say that Llŷr was a very patient and accommodating chap whilst I, on the other hand, was quicker to take exception to someone. And when we were watching TV, this was often based on nothing more than the way they spoke or dressed.

I was reminded of this on Sunday morning, when I woke on the sofa having nodded off after watching Joe Biden’s victory speech (falling asleep on the sofa was in itself a very Llŷr thing to do). The TV was on, and through half-open eyes I located the remote and flicked through the channels to see if there was anything to watch rather than go to bed. I landed on a repeat of an old game show, and as the quizmaster greeted each contestant in turn, it only took one of them to say “Hello” and I found myself arching one eyebrow upwards and turning to my right, to where Llŷr would have been sitting in the Flat of Filth (he always sat to my right at home, a bit like Ant and Dec). It was a glance which I knew if he caught, he would be able to interpret and hopefully a fit of giggles would ensue.

Only to be reminded, yet again, that he has gone, and that I’ll never be able to make him double-up laughing again.

*****

Llŷr bloody loved Prince, rightly so, so this seems appropriate:

More soon.

Claps, Clicks & Whistles #20

Blimey, it’s been a while since I wrote one of these!

For those of you who don’t recall the thrust of this series, or those who have only started frequenting these pages in the not unsizeable gap that is since March 2018, here’s the giste: I have a theory, and that theory is that any song which features either handclaps, finger-clicks or whistles can only be fantastic (and generally upbeat) records. This series sets out to test this theory.

So far, I have been 100% correct, but then I do have the slight advantage of being the content provider/writer/editor.

So I’ll keep it brief, for this artiste needs no introduction whatsoever:

Prince – I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man

More soon.

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.

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.

All Other Music Is Temporarily Suspended #3

So having got one of the two big Prince songs where the cover version is better known than the original, we should probably do the other one next.

I think this is the only one that I would concede to liking more than the Prince version. That’s okay, we can say that, even with the horrible circumstances under which I’ve come to post it. He wrote it, after all, it’s still a Prince song. And anyway, it’s got Melle Mel and Stevie Wonder on it so it shouldn’t be that much of a surprise that it’s ace.

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Chaka Khan – I Feel For You

That came out in 1984, which was the year that Prince went absolutely massive, with this and his “Purple Rain” movie being released, along with the amazing soundtrack and great singles from it too.

But not only that, another version of “I Feel For You” was released in the same year:

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Rebbie Jackson – I Feel For You

But, strangely enough, neither version was the first cover of the song.

In 1982, The Pointer Sisters did a version on their “So Excited!” album:

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The Pointer Sisters – I Feel For You

However, they missed a trick by failing to release it as a single, plumping instead for the title track, which itself didn’t become a hit until it was re-released on the back of the trio’s “Neutron Dance” inclusion on the soundtrack to “Beverley Hills Cop” in, you guessed it, 1984.

Judging by the sleeve, they spent the two years in between playing “Pull My Finger”.

But the cover versions of “I Feel For You” don’t stop there. This, from 2006:

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Xantone Blacq – I Feel For You

and even more recently, from 2015, this:

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Gavin Turek Feat. Caught A Ghost – I Feel For You

Gavin Turek is a singer, songwriter, dancer, and actress. Yes, I would have put money on it being the bloke in the background with the guitar, but there you have it.

By the way, as far as I can make out, that’s never had a formal release so there you go, don’t say I never give you anything.

But to conclude, here’s the original, from his second album:

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Prince – I Feel for You

That’s yer lot. Count yourself lucky I couldn’t source a version of The Flying Pickets’ cover.

Oh, in case you were wondering, unless there’s any more shock celebrity deaths next week – a possibility we can’t really rule out, the way 2016 has gone so far. Has anyone checked to see how Bob Dylan is recently? – Friday Night Music Club will return from it’s hiatus next week.

More soon.