Friday Night Music Club

Evening all.

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

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

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

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

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

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147. Darren Hayman – I Know I Fucked Up

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

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148. Jenny Owen Youngs – Fuck Was I

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

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149. Martha Wainwright – Bloody Mother Fucking Asshole

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

Moving on, a song which surely needs no introduction:

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150. Radiohead – Creep

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

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

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

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

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

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

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152. Pixies – You Fucking Die!

Yeh, course you were, Francis.

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

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153. Jarvis Cocker – Fuckingsong

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

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

And in case you were wondering who Dean Friedman is:

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

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

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

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

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

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156. John Creamer – Fuck Sonnet (Vocal Mix)

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

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

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157. Miley Cyrus – Fuckin Fucked Up

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

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

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158. Dead Kennedys – Too Drunk To Fuck

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

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159. N.W.A. – Fuck Tha Police

Which reminds me, I must watch the movie sometime.

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

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

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

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160. Steely Dan – Show Biz Kids

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

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

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161. Violent Femmes – Add It Up

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

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

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162. Buzzcocks – Oh Shit!

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

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

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163. FFS – Piss Off

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

Like this, in fact:

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164. Mindless Drug Hoover – Fuck Off

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

Anyway, that’ll do you for tonight.

More soon.

Late Night Stargazing

Two or three days after I posted my Country music edition of the Friday Night Music Club, it occurred to me that I’d made a glaring omission.

So let me put that right, right now.

I have several versions of tonight’s tune and I’ve been torn as to which to post here: the version from their MTV Unplugged album?  Or the live version released as an extra track on the “Bang and Blame” CD single? Maybe the live BBC studio version recorded on “Later…with Jools Holland” that features on the “At My Most Beautiful” CD single? Or how about the live version recorded for The Bridge School Benefit releases, where Neil Young pops up? Somewhere I’m sure I have version where Bruce Springsteen joins them on stage, but I can’t seem to find that, so it will have to wait for another day.

That’s all of them I think, which is lucky as I’m bored of typing the word “version”.

I was plumping for the Bridge School Benefit version (gah!), when I read this:

“Stipe has claimed that he did not even write the whole lyric down, that he “just had a piece of paper with a few words. I sang it and I walked out.” The following day, the hastily improvised take was deemed good enough and it was not re-recorded…Stipe has said at concerts that it is his favourite R.E.M. song.”

Yes, he has:

But then again, he says that a lot:

Hey, a guys’s allowed to change his mind about what his favourite R.E.M. song is, particularly when you wrote them all. Lord knows I change my mind often on this very subject, and I’ve written hardly any.

Anyway, if they deemed the one-take original version good enough to go on “Out of Time”, who am I are to argue? Here it is then:

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R.E.M. – Country Feedback

More soon.

Late Night Stargazing

Another resurrected thread.

From their much maligned “Up” album, which many say marks the start of R.E.M.’s downward trajectory. Sure, their high points were behind them by now, but we can only say that with the benefit of hindsight. For on this album, and all of the subsequent ones, bad though the albums may be (by which I mean, not as good as those they released at their absolute peak), there’s always at least one song, often more, which gleams through the silt, showing what they were still capable of.

In football terms, “Up” would be described as a “transitional period”, since it was the first release after founder member Bill Berry quit. That’s what happens when you collapse on stage from a ruptured brain aneurysm:  you suddenly become less keen on playing live.

What the remaining members seemed to do next was to turn to new technologies to try and cover up for his absence, and on the whole this tactic doesn’t really work.

But that’s not really all that obvious on today’s choice, the utterly gorgeous:

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R.E.M. – Suspicion

They knew what they were doing when they shot the video, though. Simple, stripped back, beautiful.

More soon.

 

 

 

Remembering Kirsty

I’m sure I won’t be the only person here in the blogosphere that will be writing a post in memory of Kirsty MacColl today, for today it is 15 years since this astoundingly talented woman was so cruelly taken from us.

In case you don’t know the story of her untimely demise, on 18 December 2000 she and her sons were on holiday in Mexico, and went diving in a designated diving area at the Chankanaab reef, that watercraft were restricted from entering . As the group were surfacing from a dive, a high-speed powerboat entered the area. Kirsty saw the boat coming before her sons did; Jamie (then 15) was in its path but Kirsty was able to push him out of the way. Tragically, in doing so she was struck by the boat and died instantly.

The powerboat involved in the accident was owned by Guillermo González Nova, multimillionaire president of the Comercial Mexicana supermarket chain, who was on board with members of his family. One of his employees, boat-hand José Cen Yam, stated that he was in control of the boat at the time of the incident. He was found guilty of culpable homicide and was sentenced to 2 years 10 months in prison. However, under Mexican law he was allowed to pay a punitive fine of 1,034 pesos (about £61) in lieu of the prison sentence. He was also ordered to pay approximately £1,425.22 in restitution to Kirsty’s family, an amount based on his wages.

To add insult to quite literal injury, eyewitnesses contradict Cen Yam’s claim that he was in control of the speedboat, and people who have spoken to him since say that he has admitted to receiving money – presumably from Nova – for taking the blame.

If you’d like to read more about Kirsty and the campaign to get justice, you can do so here.

All of which just makes me…well, sad. And not just because of the injustice, nor for the frankly gruesome nature of her death. That too, of course….but what makes me sad is the fact that whenever I hear any song by her or featuring her, I am immediately reminded of all that I have written so far here today.

Which means whilst I love all I am about to post, I do it with a very heavy heart.

So, let’s start this tribute off with one of her very earliest single, from 1981, the catchily-titled:

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Kirsty MacColl – There’s a Guy Works Down The Chip Shop Swears He’s Elvis

Here’s Kirsty doing the very same song on Top of The Pops:

And, from her debut album “Desperate Character”, a slower, more country, version:

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Kirsty MacColl – There’s a Guy…(Country Version)

Personally, I always thought that version was very much a template for the next song, a single from 1989’s utterly wonderful “Kite” album:

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Kirsty MacColl – Don’t Come the Cowboy With Me Sonny Jim!

In between these two albums, due to some wranglings of a contractual nature, Kirsty earned her corn doing session work as a backing singer, and became very much in demand, particularly after she appeared on “Fairytale of New York” with The Pogues. Either side of that she appeared on (to name but a few):

The Smiths – “Ask” (not to mention the B-side too, a cover of Twinkle’s “Golden Lights”)

Billy Bragg – “Sexuality” (She looks fantastic in this, happy, the sort of woman you would have a right laugh down the pub with; the bit when she mocks the size of Billy’s….er….lil Bill behind his back always raises a smile round these parts)

Happy Mondays – “Hallelujah” (This is from that legendary edition of Top of The Pops when the Mondays appeared along with The Stone Roses, one of those era defining moments when us indie heads finally felt like we might be winning…and there’s Kirsty, right in the middle of it, wisely electing not to try to out-Bez dance Bez)

Morrissey – “Interesting Drug”(His fourth solo single following the messy end The Smiths met, and there’s Kirsty again, popping up on backing vocal duties, if not in the video. Not one of his better efforts this, mostly only notable for The Moz sneezing as the track edges towards fade-out.)

The Wonder Stuff – “Welcome to the Cheap Seats” (I can’t say I’m overly fond of this one, big fan of The Stuffies that I am. Suffice it to say, in my opinion, Kirsty is by far the best thing about it.)

Without fail, every interview you read given by anyone who worked on any of those records, they will say one, if not all three, of the following things:

  1. What a delight she was to work with
  2. That she never needed a second take, nailing her part first time..
  3. …a skill which inevitably draws comparison with either Karen Carpenter or Dusty Springfield.

That’s the sort of illustrious company in which Kirsty’s name should rightly be mentioned.

But all of this belittles what a wonderful artist she was in her own right. And to prove it, here’s two live performances of songs from what turned out to be her last album, “Tropical Brainstorm”, where she was experimenting with Latin American rhythms, instruments and sounds, not the sort of thing I normally go for, I’ll admit, but since I could happily listen to Kirsty singing my shopping list, I love.

Kirsty MacColl – “In These Shoes?” (Live on Later with Jools Holland)

Kirsty MacColl – “England 2, Columbia 0” (Live on Later with Jools Holland)

And thankfully, Jools is kept well away from the piano, thus preventing it turning into more of his tiresome boogie woogie.

I’ll be raising a drink to Kirsty tonight. Thanks for the memories. I just wish there were more of them.

More soon.

 

It’s The End of the World as We Know It (And I Don’t Feel Fine)

You don’t need me to explain, do you?

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“It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” – R.E.M.

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“We’re All Going To Die” – Malcolm Middleton

Predictable choices? Probably. Saddened to be posting them? Definitely.

More soon. Hopefully.

 

 

 

Sunday Morning Coming Down

I think I’ve spoiled you recently, with my five songs to a post on here. Austerity rules, I’m afraid, Back to one per post (subtext: or I’ll run out of stuff to play you pretty quickly).

The keen observer will have noticed that I’m a big fan of R.E.M. When I say I’m a big fan, like most other big fans I accept that they had their day in the spotlight, and that their last few albums really aren’t much cop.

Usually with great bands, it’s a bit tricky, trying to work out where it went wrong. Not R.E.M. Oh no. With them, there are two things that happened around the same time, and after they did, nothing was ever the same, or as good.

Firstly, the signed a multi-million dollar deal with Warner Brothers. Nowt wrong with that. They’d paid their dues. They was owed.

Secondly, BIll Berry, the drummer, quit the band. The guy did collapse with an aneurysm mid-concert, so you can’t blame him for getting out before he became a Spinal Tap/Pretenders dead drummer statistic.

The last record he appeared on was “New Adventures in Hi-Fi”, an album mostly recorded on the road whist they promoted the “Monster” album. It’s a great record, even if a friend of mine insists on pronouncing it he-fe. (Not sure that translates…)

And then, after that…well, it just wasn’t the same. Poor pronunciation or not.

However, whilst they soldiered on for another few albums, they must have known their days were numbered, finally giving in and quitting in 2011. (As I type that, I honestly can’t believe it’s been 4 years since that happened.)

Anyway, they released a Greatest Hits album as they died, and of course it featured, as is the vogue these days, a few unreleased tracks. And there, hidden amongst them, was today’s post, a song which was exactly the sort of song their fans had been hoping they would make again:

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R.E.M. – We All Go Back To Where We Belong

I can’t help but think that had those final years had a few more songs like this, then they might still be with us. Ho hum.

More soon.

Sunday Morning Coming Down

I seem to be in the mood (i.e. hungover) for a few more of these mellow Sunday Morning tunes, so indulge me and allow me to share a few more.

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Love’s Been Good To Me

Johnny Cash covered this one on his wonderful Rick Rubin produced American Recordings series, and his version is top-notch of course. But for my money, you can’t beat Ol’ Blue Eyes’ version. And any mention of Frank always makes me think of the much over-looked Fast Show character you can find here at 09.08. The whole episode is worth a watch if you have time; Series 3 is when Whitehouse, Higson, Thompson et al were at their absolute peak, in my book.

Like it? Go buy it here.

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Leaving New York

From their absolute dog of an album “Around The Sun”, the opening track and frankly, you can eject the CD as soon as you’ve listened to this one. (Do people still play CDs..?) Archetypal R.E.M., it’s all gorgeous harmonies and backing vocals to die for. As I mentioned in a previous post, when I used to share a flat with Heledd (although I don’t think I actually mentioned her name. Consider that rectified. And hello Hel!), our Fridays would often involve a playlist I had prepared. Apart from laughing at my attempts to sing along to “It’s The End Of The World As We Know It”, Hel is not a big fan of Stipe, Buck, Mills (and Berry), but this tune caught her ear, and as a result cropped up regularly post-playlist when we were both in “a bit pissed and ready for a sing-song” mode. Right after we’d played Max Boyce, usually. Many songs remind me of many people, but as a result of those Friday nights, this song more than any other reminds me of Hel. She doesn’t own it, yet she totally owns it. Cheers!

Like it? Go buy it here

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Sweet Jane

A Lou Reed cover, as you no doubt know, and if you ever want an example of a song being re-worked so far it almost sounds like a completely different song, this is it. Better than the original, in my opinion. There. I’ve said it.

Like it? Go buy it here

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I Believe (When I Fall In Love It Will Be For Ever)

Taken from the first Stevie Wonder album I ever bought, and as the premise behind me writing this blog stems from the book High Fidelity (see Introduction, Explanation, Justification for my mission statement), it seems appropriate that I get things back on track by posting the song which is played over the end credits of the film adaptation of the novel.

Like it? Go buy it here.

More soon.