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.

Late Night Stargazing

I’ve been watching the new series of Black Mirror on Netflix over the last few days.

For the uninitiated, it’s the latest in stand-alone, one hour long stories (mostly) co-penned by Charlie Brooker, the main theme being technology, our relationship with it, and what happens when it is used for ill-gain, or when its use spirals out of control.

The first ever episode, “The National Anthem”, had a storyline where the UK Prime Minister was forced to have sex with a pig live on air as part of the ransom to secure the release of a kidnapped member of the royal family; it hit the headlines several years later when it was alleged that the actual Prime Minister had allegedly  voluntarily done something not entirely dissimilar. Allegedly. I said allegedly enough times there, didn’t I?

The new series continues in a similar bleak vein; the first – and don’t worry, there’ll be no spoilers here – “Nosedive” envisions a world where your social avenues are opened or closed depending on the on-line scores people give you for your real-life interactions with them; “Playtest” explores the world of virtual reality gaming, and the third “Shut Up and Dance” taps into the paranoia stemming from that urban myth (or is it….?) that the webcam on your laptop might record more than you intend it to.

“Shut Up and Dance” climaxes with a sequence featuring one of my favourite Radiohead songs, a song which has always sent shivers down my spine, and it’s inclusion in “Shut Up and Dance” ensures it will continue to do so for quite some time:

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Radiohead – Exit Music (For A Film)

I have another three episodes to watch, so doubtless I’ll be back if any others touch a nerve.

In other words: More soon.

Friday Night Music Club

Evening all.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, it can’t have escaped your attention that the Olympics start officially later tonight (if you count the opening ceremony as it starting) or tomorrow (if you count it as starting when the competitions actually do).

Of course, whichever opinion you subscribe to, you’re wrong, for the Olympic football tournament started two days ago, but since this is generally being ignored here in the UK as Team GB didn’t qualify (did we even try…? Couldn’t have been a more humiliating experience than Euro 2016 was, I guess), you can be forgiven for that.

Anyway, pack me a lunchbox and call me Linford, I’ve only gone and done us a Friday Night Olympic playlist. Try to contain your joy.

So here goes, 12 songs which are (very) (tenuously) linked to the Olympics. And no sign of that bloody Spandau Ballet record anywhere.

First up, no surprise that I’ve managed to crowbar this lot in:

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355. Super Furry Animals – (Drawing) Rings Around The World

Of course, the opening ceremony climaxes and the Games truly commence when the Olympic flame arrives at the stadium, transported in one of these (the song title, not the band):

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356. Soft Cell – Torch

The majority of the games involve a race of sorts (I think. I dunno. I haven’t checked). So here’s this lot:

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357. The Flaming Lips – Race For The Prize

Next, a song which is actually about a motor race, which means it isn’t a race that appears in the Olympics (I think. I dunno. I haven’t checked), but the theme is roughly the same. Plus, I’ve not heard it for ages:

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358. Cake – The Distance

The objective of any of the sports hosted at the Olympics is to win a medal, preferably a gold one, which is given to the winner:

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359. Shed Seven – Going For Gold

…or failing that, make do with second place, which earns you…

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360. Echo & The Bunnymen – Silver

…which is another way of saying….

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361. The Jesus & Mary Chain – Almost Gold

…which is still one better than coming third, and getting:

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362. Queens of the Stone Age – The Bronze

Mention the name “Queen” and one other band springs to mind, a band who famously had a song which actually mentions an actual Olympic sport, albeit somewhat colloquially, in the title. But I’m not playing Queen tonight; instead this rowdy lot:

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363. Be Your Own Pet – Bicycle Race

Straight on to the next one, which surely needs no explanation:

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364. Sugababes – Push The Button

Okay, maybe a little explanation.

In 2012, on the night of the opening ceremony, I was at a works party. The party had nothing to do with the Olympics, and was held in the beer garden of a local pub, whilst TV screens in the bar showed the opening proceedings. I have to admit, in the run up to the games, I was firmly in the “We’re going to make a right pig’s ear of this” camp, and had little to no intention of watching any of the games. However, the appointment of Danny Boyle, he of Trainspotting, Shallow Grave and Slumdog Millionaire fame, to direct the opening ceremony piqued my interest, and every time I went to the bar – which was often – I found myself watching the television, bordering on the entranced.

I got home later that night, found it on the BBC iPlayer, and watched it right through.

Sort of.

The next morning, I woke up on the sofa, my television on stand-by, and watched it again/properly. I hadn’t been mistaken. It was bloody amazing.

Soon after the Games finished, I bought a copy of the DVD box-set. The first disc contains the opening ceremony, the other two the highlights of the games. The first is possibly the most watched DVD that I own. The other two haven’t even been out of the box.

Why is this relevant? Well, the other night I had a text from Hel, asking if I’d watched the BBC documentary about the making of the ceremony. I hadn’t, and sat down to watch it the following night.

For the next couple of hours, I was transfixed, in exactly the same way as when I first watched the actual opening ceremony. The documentary, part of Alan Yentob’s “Imagine” series, contains behind the scenes footage, including the teaching of all the thousands of volunteers, some of whom had to learn to dance, others to drum; it has interviews not just with all the main creative players (Boyle himself, Underworld’s Rick Smith who was the musical director, etc. etc.) but also with several of the volunteers, some of whom have moving stories to tell about why they were there, and what happened to them on the night and as they trained for it. For example, in the “Saturday Night/Music” sequence, which tells the story of a boy and a girl meeting on a night out: I had assumed that both of them were trained actors/dancers. But no: both just normal kids, who’d volunteered to take part, and had been picked from the masses to play a major role in the event.

But there was one scene which stuck in my mind, filmed in the tunnel where the volunteers involved in the aforementioned sequence were waiting to enter the stadium. Out there, the Sugababes’ “Push The Button” is playing; in the tunnel, they are going mental, all bouncing up and down with excitement, singing along and cheering…it’s wonderful to behold. If you have chance to watch it, I urge you to do so. You won’t be disappointed.

So, that’s why the Sugababes are here. They’ve probably changed line-up about seven times since I started writing that, mind (obligatory Sugababes revolving line-up joke, there).

Back to a song which I don’t really think can be criticised for being included in a playlist on an Olympics theme:

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365. Gene – Olympian (Single Version)

That is just majestic.

And so to round things off, a song from my favourite album by this band (a controversial choice, I believe), which I dedicate to every athlete from every nation taking part. May you hear yours many times over the next few weeks.

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366. Radiohead – The National Anthem

More soon.

1985 and All That

“More soon. Better soon. No really, I promise.”

Sometimes things I write come back to haunt me. Last time I wrote anything in this thread, it was the words above.

And then I checked to see what records that I bought in 1985  I still had to write about.

Ah.

Can I pretend I was talking about records I bought in 1986? No? Fair enough.

OK, let’s try and get through these then.

You know how stand-up comedians often talk of terrible gigs they played when they started out, before they found “their voice”? Well, that pretty much sums up the mish-mash of records that I’m going to post today: I hadn’t quite found my voice, my style just yet, and that’s as close as I’m going to get to justifying some of these.

So, first, one which proves that I was still a little easily-led. When I was 15, and for a few years beforehand, many of my friends were into bands like Pink Floyd and Rush. I bought into the first to an extent – I’ve talked about ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ on these pages before, and that remains the only record by them that I own a physical copy of – but I never fell for the ‘charms’ of Canadian rockers Rush at all.

But there was another band that loomed large amongst my peers, who I never really liked all that much, but who managed to score a couple of hits in 1985, the first of which I still quite like but didn’t buy, and the second which I did buy but don’t think I’ve played more than once or twice since:

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Marillion – Lavender

That sleeve really tells you all you need to know about that record, doesn’t it?

Well, not quite. Marillion’s lead singer was called Fish. He chose that name because he thought it to be less ridiculous than his real name. Which was Derek Dick. So he had a point.

Moving swiftly on then, a record which I seem to remember a girl at school giving to me as a birthday present. I have no idea why she did that. I don’t recall ever saying I particularly liked it, and I don’t recall she and I ever being particularly great friends. Friendly, sure, but not friendly enough for birthday gifts. Maybe I’d mentioned it in passing and she decided to present me with it thinking I would be grateful, maybe I’d mentioned in in passing and she decided to present me with it knowing it would piss me off to actually own it. (In case any of you are now hollering “Maybe she fancied you, you idiot!” at your screen/tablet/phone, well I can rule that out, for she only ever had eyes for wrong ‘uns, and no amount of shoplifting white socks would have made me a wrong ‘un). So, I have no idea. All I know is that I not only own this, but also that it has inexplicably survived my lean years, when records that I genuinely loved were ruthlessly stripped from within my vinyl collection to assist me in the purchase of some unloved trinket or other:

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 Red Box – Lean on Me

I do hope that everyone of you is saying “Aye” right now, as requested.

There was still the occasional purchase from Britannia Music going on at this time, including this, which was actually released two years earlier in 1983, but which I bought through choice rather than one of their “Tick This Box and Send the Card Back if You Don’t Want This Record” scam. I have no qualms at all about owning this album; Elton John has been around for such a long time that I think tucked away somewhere in his back catalogue there’s at least one song that everyone loves, be it “Your Song”, “Tiny Dancer”, “Passengers” (God help you if that’s yours) or this, from the album in question, “Too Low For Zero”, which still has me singing along like nobody can hear me (although they can, they definitely can, as the guy who used to live in the flat above us in Cardiff once kindly pointed out to me) when I’ve had a few:

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Elton John – I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues

Of course, in 1985, Live Aid happened. I’ve already mentioned this in passing before, and besides, as I think I mentioned last time, I can’t really compete with the wonderful post over at Any Major Dude With Half a Heart from the 30th anniversary of the gig, which I would thoroughly recommend you go read, here.

The cynics amongst us – okay, including me – whilst applauding the honourable intentions of all those involved, couldn’t help but notice that appearing at either the UK or the USA concert (or both, as Phil Collins did when he famously got Concorde across the pond, thus leaving the sort of carbon footprint that required Live8 to happen years later), not only scored them bonus points for caring, or appearing to care, about world issues, it also had a seriously positive effect on their record sales.

None more so, than Queen.

In November, they released this single, often thought to have been inspired by the event of Live Aid, the lyrics to which, in drummer Roger Taylor’s own words, were “sort of half nicked off Martin Luther King’s famous speech”:

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Queen – One Vision

That’s Queen, who lest we forget, were roundly criticised for playing a run of shows at Sun City, the entertainment complex located in Bophutswana, despite the United Nations cultural boycott of South Africa whilst apartheid remained in situ.

But let’s not go off on another rant again, eh?

Queen were of course not the only act to appear at Live Aid to monopolise on their appearance. Precisely two months before Live Aid, Dire Straits released their “Brothers in Arms” album, which of course went on to claim a position in the Top 10 Best-Selling UK albums ever that as far as I can find, they still hold today (Number One? Queen’s “Greatest Hits”, natch). I by now was working my way through The Straits’ back catalogue as fast as my money would allow me, and next on the list was 1980s “Making Movies”.

Now I know that the mere mention of Dire Straits makes many of you reach for that little X in the corner that closes the window, but indulge me for a moment. For whilst “Brothers in Arms” may have been the album that made them all their bucks (helped in no small part by a coincidental correlation with CD sales taking off), if I were to look over their back catalogue, they were already past their best, with their absolute peak having been “Making Movies”. It’s an album I still own, and play semi-regularly today, mostly because of this:

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Dire Straits – Romeo & Juliet

When I was a kid, I was mildly obsessed with “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”, a science fiction/comedy series, written by the late, great Douglas Adams, which first aired on BBC Radio 4 in 1978, but has been repeated many times since. In 1982, my brother recorded them all onto a series of C-60 cassettes, which he created sleeves for, little doodles, drawing and sketches of characters and scenes from the episodes contained within. (I know it was 1982 because there was an odd amount of episodes, which meant the second side of the last cassette was blank, a situation he resolved by recording songs from the Top 40 one week, one of which was Quo’s version of Tom Jones’ “Something ‘Bout You Baby”. Don’t fret, I’m not going to post it.)

Anyway, the radio series spawned a television version, a five book trilogy (The final one, “Mostly Harmless” came with the words “The fifth book in the increasingly inaccurately named ‘Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ trilogy” written on the front), and much, much later, a film version.

There were also novelty singles (“Marvin the Paranoid Android” by…erm…Marvin, The Paranoid Android – and fret not, I’m not posting that either), a stage show or three, not forgetting that Adams’ creative brilliance inspired the names of musicians (see: Level 42), and of course Radiohead, who named their biggest single, “Paranoid Android”, after the aforementioned character.

Oh go on then, I’ll play one of those three:

Why am I prattling on about Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, I hear you feel obliged to ask.  Well, because in the fourth of the inaccurately named trilogy, “So Long, and Thanks for all the Fish”, Adams write this:

“Arthur put Dire Straits on the stereo…Mark Knopfler has an extraordinary ability to make a Schecter Custom Stratocaster hoot and sing like angels on a Saturday night, exhausted from being good all week and needing a stiff beer – which is not strictly relevant at this point since the record hadn’t yet got to that bit, but there will be too much else going on when it does…so it seems best to mention it now while things are still moving slowly”

A page later, he writes:

“She moved forward, put her arms round and kissed him, because the record had got to that bit which, if you knew the record, you would know made it impossible not to do this.”

I had always assumed, wrongly I find as I came to research this post, that Adams was talking about “Romeo & Juliet” when he wrote that, but it transpires he was actually referring to a different track from “Making Movies”, one which opens the album with an arrangement of the “Carousel Waltz” from the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical “Carousel”. This song, in fact:

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Dire Straits – Tunnel of Love

Say what you like about Dire Straits, they knew how to press home a concept on minimalist sleeve art. “Making Movies” is identical to the two above (but with the words “Making Movies” replacing the words “Romeo & Juliet” and “Tunnel of Love”, obviously).

If Peter Saville had done something similar with the sleeves of all the Factory Records releases, we’d all be hailing them as works of art. But as this is Dire Straits, and thus already on minus cool points, we’ve never heard of the bloke responsible for the original design and artwork. (A chap called Neil Terk, in case you’re interested. Brexiters are hoping he won’t gain access to our country.)

Which leaves me with just two other singles that I bought in 1985 to write about, and hopefully a sign of things to come.

These last two also come from the same band, a band who had already reincarnated from Southern Death Cult, to Death Cult, to The Cult, their sound spiralling to a more and more accessible version of Goth, and following the success they found with their “Love” album,, they changed once more, unleashing a full metal racket upon us (which I also loved).

But before that, following the release of “Love” and “She Sells Sanctuary”, which I’ve written about and posted previously, by the end of 1985, there were two more singles, both of which I bought on gatefold double 7″ format. I don’t think I’ve ever played anything other than the A side of either of them, which makes me think that it was around now that I was beginning to turn into the fully fledged, must collect everything, music nerd you see before you today.

So, here, to round things off for 1985 (as far as I can work out, that’s covered everything I bought, borrowed or stole), are two singles by The Cult, both of which seem to sum up Britain right now. And that’s all I’m going to say on the matter:

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 The Cult – Rain

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 The Cult – Revolution

You’d think they’d have edited out the occasion that lead singer Ian Astbury comes in a bar too early for the “There’s a revolution” refrain, wouldn’t you? Can you spot it, readers?

More soon. Better soon. No really, I promise.

Oh, shut up, mun.

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.

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.

Glastonbury, So Much to Answer For… (Part 1)

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The plan for this week’s post was to travel back to 1983 and talk about some of the records I bought back then. But I was, and still am, truth be told, struggling to think of anything much of interest to say about any of them. So as I was lazing around my blog-cave today, seeking inspiration by watching “Pride” (which is rapidly becoming my favourite film ever; if you’ve not seen it yet, I urge you to do so: it’s the one of the best films ever about the relationship between gays, lesbians and striking miners. Well, I say one of the best: it’s definitely in the Top 10 of that saturated genre, anyway), when I received an email from See Tickets, telling me that my tickets for this year’s Glastonbury had been posted out to me today.

Yes, indeed. Glastonbury here I come. This will be my 6th Glastonbury, the first being back in 2003. I guess you could say I was a bit of a latecomer to the whole festival scene, and some will probably take this as evidence of Glastonbury being tailored towards the more middle-aged, middle class clientele these days than it used to be.That might well be the case; since I didn’t go to my first Glastonbury until 2003, I have no frame of reference as to what it was like in the good old days, bar the usual old stories about how much better it was before the fences went up, and of course Julian Temple’s rather wonderful 2006 rockumentary, pithily entitled “Glastonbury”. (I don’t know how he does it, I really don’t)

Glasto 2003 wasn’t the first festival I’d been to. No siree bob. The first festival I went to was Reading in 1989, at the end of my first year at college. (I appreciate calling it a college makes me sound like a plaid-shirted, gum-chewing, Chevy-driving, yee-hawing Yankee, but having dossed around far too much at school, I didn’t get good enough grades to go to a University, and I ended up going to a Polytechnic. A Polytechnic was a place where people not bright enough to go to University, but who weren’t ready to go get a proper job yet, ended up, like an Immigrant Holding Cell for the moderately clever but lazy. It became a University literally moments after I graduated. I’d no sooner handed back my mortar board and gown after my graduation ceremony than they started painting over the sign and giving the whole campus a makeover. I swear they were waiting for me to leave.)

Reading 1989 was an experience I was not keen to replicate, hence the 14 year gap before I attended another festival. This was the first year after it stopped being “Reading Rocks” (I believe a bottle of piss throwing incident involving the crowd, Meatloaf and Bonnie Tyler was the final nail in the coffin of that particular incarnation of Reading. Tyler has subsequently apologised). My reluctance to go to another festival had nothing to do with the line up at this one: the headiners were Friday: New Order (tick!); Saturday: The Pogues (tick!); Sunday: The Mission (ah well, can’t have everything, I suppose).

Utter virgins at this kind of thing, me and my mate Ian had turned up with a borrowed tent on the Friday morning, pitched and rocked up to the Main Stage (I say Main Stage, my recollection is that it was the only stage, although I’m open to correction there), just in time to a) miss Gaye Bikers on Acid (result!) and b) catch Spacemen 3. I was already a massive fan of their “Revolution”, which regular readers may remember I posted a while ago in those wildly optimistic pre-election days. Next up were My Bloody Valentine: this would have been around the time they were starting to record the masterpiece that is their “Loveless” album, and so the set comprised, as far as I recall, mostly of early versions of what would go on to become that fine album. I was totally blown away by them. And of course they played this, which I still think is one of the greatest, noisiest records ever made that I somehow managed not to buy.

(Actually, I know how I managed not to buy it: I had just started DJ’ing the Indie Night at the Student’s Union, so I could listen to it as much as I liked there, often getting paid to play it. At least one person I know would say that no amount of money would be enough to make her listen to it.)

But anyway, I digress. This isn’t about Reading or me DJ’ing – I can talk about both another time. And I will. You’ve been warned.

No, this is about me popping my Glasto cherry,

Now, I don’t intend to review each act I saw that year, or on any of the years I’ve gone to since; gig reviews are not really what I do here, and besides, there are people who do gig reviews a whole lot better than I could (which reminds me, if you get chance, check out Lorraine’s blog over at “Still Got Manners“. She’s very good, and has a taste for going to the right gigs; her recent review of the Super Furries recent gig in Glasgow is so on the money you’ll see why I didn’t even attempt to write a review after I saw at them at Brixton Academy a few weeks back. No point – she’s already done it far better than I could have managed)

So, Glasto 2003. 10 of us had managed to get tickets – these were the days before it sold out in 26 minutes, and we’d all spent hours redialling and clicking refresh. Seven of us hired a minibus and drove up from Cardiff on the Thursday, the other three came from further west in Wales (Neath) and we not only all managed to meet up, but also pitched our tents together. This would not happen these days; if you’re not there first thing Wednesday morning when the gates open, you’re going to struggle to find space to pitch one tent, let alone a group of tents. Somewhat optimistically, we pitched them in the round, and woke up on the Friday morning to find someone had pitched theirs right in the middle of our group. Morning!

You’ve probably noticed a reluctance in the past for me to name people I’m writing about (I haven’t even told you my brother’s name, and he’s been mentioned loads), and that’s because I wanted to afford them some level of anonymity, just in case I ever write about anything on here they would rather I didn’t announce to the world. But usually I’m just talking about one person, and they know I’m writing about them; now, with 10 of us, I think it’s time to call a register.

There was me (Hello! Nice to meet you. Thanks for stopping by), my flat mate Llyr, his sister Hel, two of our mates O’Keefe and Ballard (mates from work, both blokes, hence referred to by their surnames, as is the tradition), Mike and Vicky (married, from Neath), Johnno (not a bloke, hence everyone else apart from me calling her Claire), Mark and Val (couple, also from Cardiff).  I wish I saw all of these people more often than I do these days. What a merry band we must have looked as we all wandered around the site on the Thursday afternoon, drinking in the atmosphere, before visiting the late night fun on offer that night, and then we finally traipsed off to the Pyramid Stage ready for the first act, on stage around mid-day on the Friday.

We decided we’d head towards the back of the field (stopping off at the bar on the way up, of course) and positioned ourselves right at the top of the slope. There’s a first aid tent there we decided was a convenient reference point in case any of us got lost. I’ve used this as a rendezvous every year that I’ve been since.

First act on were The Darkness. This was before they went massive – or as massive as they got – and imploded (before reforming). We’d never heard of them, but were all pretty impressed with them.

About mid-way through their set, it started raining. Of course it did. Disorganised Glasto virgins as we were, none of us had considered bringing waterproof clothing out with us, so we all purchased what was essentially a transparent bin bag with a hood and two arm holes cut into it from an enterprising local who wandered past. Hilariously, Mark’s only had one arm cut in it, and I will never forget the utterly pissed off look on his face as he attempted to smoke a cigarette using the tethered arm, as rain dripped off his brow.

Next up was the newly reformed Inspiral Carpets, who we all loved, being from “our era” as they were, followed by Echo & the Bunnymen, who the continued rain seemed to suit (and who I also loved). It was a running joke for years later that wherever we went, Mr McCulloch and co would be playing somewhere; it was some years later before a year happened where we didn’t see Echo & the Bunnymen play.

Still the rain continued. It was that fine rain, the sort that soaks you right through. Some of the gang wandered off to go and watch other things – namely Junior Senior, and Har Mar Superstar, the latter of which has resolutely failed to tickle my fancy. But I remained, along with a few of the others to watch the Inspirals and the Bunnymen. Later acts were De La Soul and Jimmy Cliff, and it was during one of these acts that the sun finally decided to reappear. It’s such a simple pleasure, but there’s very little better in this life than the sun coming out at Glastonbury; you can feel the mood of the whole place lift.

You can tell this was my first Glastonbury, because I pretty much spent the rest of the weekend in the same spot, watching all the acts come and go on the Pyramid Stage. This was fine by me, for although The Other Stage culminated on the Friday with Super Furry Animals, with Primal Scream headlining, R.E.M. were playing the Pyramid, and there was no way I was going to miss them. This would be the third time I’d seen them, and I still say that the greatest gig I ever went to was not this one, but R.E.M. at the Newport Centre in 1989 promoting the Green album. More of that another time.

(NB – when you arrive at Glastonbury, you’re given a little booklet showing the band times for the whole weekend; having just checked mine from 2003 (of course, I’ve kept it) I find that my recollection is a little skew-whiff: apparently Super Furries headlined the Other Stage on the Saturday night, and Jimmy Cliff played the Pyramid on the Saturday too. This is not my recollection, although I’m certainly not going to argue. But this is about what I remember, so take it that the running orders from hereon in may not be accurate. The views and opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the organisers of Glastonbury, you could say. The reason my memory might be a little off beam will become clear…),

R.E.M. would at this time, 2003, have been promoting, or at the very least working on, their “Around The Sun”, generally accepted as being the worst album they ever made. This is not a consensus I would disagree with; bar one, maybe two songs, it’s an absolute stinker. Thankfully, most of the songs on there were still in their early stages, so we were subjected to very few of them. Instead, we basically got a Greatest Hits set, which is, I think, what you want of an established band at a festival. Their gig was also memorable for Johnno complaining afterwards that it would’ve been nice to hear Stipe sing, rather than having my dulcet tones bellowing along to every song in her close vicinity. Here’s them doing Electrolite; ask me nicely and I’ll sing it in your ear throughout.

So ended Friday. On Saturday, a few of us settle ourselves at roughly the same spot, and it was here that an extra member of our group was introduced to me. One of our little gang (who shall remain nameless, for fairly obvious reasons) had brought it upon themselves to bring some cakes with them. Brownies, to be precise. As you can imagine, there was chocolate in them. And one other vital ingredient, which you can work out for yourself.

The sun was absolutely blistering that day; yet we munched on the brownies like they were going out of fashion (which they had, around 30 years earlier) and then found ourselves totally incapable of speaking, let alone moving, for the rest of the day. I remember sitting next to O’Keefe and neither of us uttering a word for about 2 hours, just looking at each other every now and then and either giggling or just staring. And this was nothing to do with not being able to be heard over the sound levels.

All sorts of cretinous acts passed before us, who I would not normally have gone within a mile radius of. However it’s quite amazing how you find yourself able to endure the likes of Jools Holland and his Boogie Woogie Band (that’s probably what they were called, anyway), Turin Brakes and (I think) David Gray when you are so utterly mashed on space cakes that your legs don’t work.

O’Keefe, from somewhere, suddenly managed to muster the energy to get up and move. He later told me he thought he was going to get sunstroke and decided he had to go and try and find shade, which he did, in one of the Dance Tents, where he promptly had a kip to the sound of some banging techno.

(On returning home, I read about a woman, probably a bit older than I am now, who had been spotted at the festival, clearly off her face, naked, propped up against a bandstand in one of the peripheral fields, legs akimbo, demonstrating the old rustic art of Bean-Flicking to anyone who cared, or could hold their falafel down long enough, to watch. There but for the grace of God, and all that….)

One of the highlights (I think) O’Keefe missed was The Polyphonic Spree, a band I was aware of and had heard a couple of tracks by, and who seemed to be going for the record for Most People on a Stage Wearing White Smocks. They were great, perfect sunny afternoon whilst trashed fodder.

Saturday night was rounded off with The Flaming Lips (wonderful) followed by headliners Radiohead, who were just incredible. I, despite my brilliant plan of making sure every one was by the First Aid tent, managed to get lost on the way back from a trip to the loo, and found myself wandering almost to the front during Karma Police There’s something almost reassuringly unsettling about meandering around, lost in the dark, utterly mashed, in a crowd of some 100,000 or so people who are singing in unison that they’ve lost themselves. Yeh, you and me both.

On Sunday, I vowed that I wasn’t going to spend the whole day at the Pyramid Stage. And thus it was the case: plus everyone else swore off the remaining brownies and I was given the unenviable task of “looking after them” for the day. I decided that “Looking after them” could be interpreted as “eat as many as you like”, and I considered this a challenge I was up too. Cue me comatose outside the Acoustic Tent half listening to Roddy Frame as I drifted in and out of consciousness. The rest of the day is a bit of a blur, understandably. I know that I somehow managed to hook up with most of the gang over at The Other Stage in time to see Grandaddy (never heard of them before, loved them so much I bought some of their records when I got home), Sigur Ros (ditto) and Doves (already perfectly aware of them, thank you very much).

So that was Glastonbury 2003. If you’ve ploughed through all of that, you deserve some tunes:

The Darkness – Get Your Hands Off My Woman

Inspiral Carpets – She Comes in The Fall

Echo & The Bunnymen – Nothing Lasts For Ever

De La Soul – Eye Know

Jimmy Cliff – Wonderful World, Beautiful People

R.E.M.- Little America

The Polyphonic Spree – Section 09 (Light & Day – Reach For The Sun)

The Flaming Lips – Race for the Prize (remix)

Radiohead – There There. (The Boney King of Nowhere)

Roddy Frame – This Boy Wonders (live at Ronnie Scott’s)

Grandaddy – On Standby

Doves – Pounding

As always, if you like ’em, go buy ’em. You don’t need me to tell you where from.

More soon.