It is not Christmas week, regardless of whatever your calendar might tell you.
We’re carrying on regardless here at Dubious Towers.
And here’s a sub-two minutes song by a band unlikely to ever release a Christmas record, so we’re on fairly safe ground. Radiohead are no Cliff Richard, they’re not even Shakin’ Stevens. But then who is?
This is from their 2003 Hail to the Thief album:
I’ll await someone sending me a message telling me that Thom Yorke duetted with Perry Como on a version of Wizzard’s I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday with interest.
I promise that I’m not going to start all of my posts with these words, but following the last instalment of The Chain I had an email from from long-time reader and Chain Gang contributor George who said that he was “toying with idea of making a cd of Chain 48”. (To any of our younger readers, CDs are what we used to record music on to and listen to music from before streaming and making playlists became things.)
Anyway, I thought this was an excellent idea, because I have a playlist for every edition of The Chain, the purpose of which was partly so that I could revisit and relive the good times and the bad, but mostly so that I could check whether something had already been suggested and therefore was precluded from being nominated again. You may have noticed I’ve been rather lax about this since The Chain returned, and that’s not going to change: I figure in these days of Trump & Johnson, of global pandemics*, international recessions, corruption at a governmental level, and starving children (it was The Chain or a Rant today), there’s more important things to worry about than duplications in The Chain back catalogue.
(*Sit down, New Zealand, I’m not talking about you)
Anyway, the point I am trying to make is that to get all of #48’s songs onto one CD would take a lot of editing choices, so I’d love to hear which songs made the cut – even more so should you decide on making one after you’ve read this one because this week (I say that like I post these every week, rather than every six weeks or so) we have just shy of 4 and 3/4 hours worth of tunes to get through, and I don’t think there’s a duff choice amongst them. Some ropey ones, yes, but duffers, no. But then Kay hasn’t suggested anything this time, so…..so maybe I should crack on.
Oh, and George (Incoming obligatory oblique 1970s TV reference that about 80% of you won’t get): I’m sorry but we aren’t able to return any drawings sent in, but yes, it is a big one, no I’ve never seen one quite that shape before, and no I don’t need you to send me a photo, but thank you for the offer.
OK, so let’s start as we usually do with a reminder of the source material this time around, which was this:
As you might expect, we have a lot of tunes related to Talk(ing), some related to Fear of Music (the album that features on), and then what I believe is the collective term for lots of suggestions on a similar theme: an absolute fuckload of songs linked to a specific city, or the words cities or city. As always, I’ll try to put them in an order that makes some kind of narrative sense (you’ve noticed I do that right?) but if you’re planning on doing yourself a playlist of these, I’d be interested to see if you think you’ve done better (NB: no I wouldn’t. Keep it to yourself, thanks very much).
Not quite first out of the traps this time was Swiss Adam from Bagging Area who, as he will explain, suggests a tune which simply demands to go first:
“Cities should have a theme and luckily we have an ahead of its time piece of ice cool euro dance that found a second life in the Balearic sounds of ’88 and thereafter:“
Now, I don’t profess to know anywhere near as much about that there dance music as our Swiss, but I do know that got used on a tune recorded by David Russell Lee, who used to be known under the stage name of Joey Negro. Lee also recorded under many other pseudonyms, including this one, which throws in a Queen sample for good measure, and I think is what Swiss means when he says “thereafter”, given this came out in 2001:
But since we’re already going off on tangents, here’s a factoid for you (lifted from Wiki, so large pinch of salt at the ready): In 1993, Lee was approached by Take That’s label with a view to working together. Lee suggested they covered an old hit by Dan Hartman, which hadn’t been a hit in the UK but which had become a popular club track in the house music scene. They did as suggested, replacing Loleatta Holloway from the original with – who else? – Scottish songstress Lulu and lo! the boy band’s second number one in the UK was born.
Anyway. Cities. I think next I’ll hand over to Rigid Digit from Stuff & Nonsense to get us back on track:
“Knowing too much about 3rd Division Punk Bands (as I do), the phrase “Cities” immediately brought forth [this]…It’s OK, in a mohican wearing punky thrashing type way, but probably not what you’re looking for.”
Turns out, that’s quite the accurate description. I’m also imagining a purple and black furry jumper:
I gather Westlife are planning to do a cover of that as their comeback single.
Well, we seem to have strayed into the territory of songs with the word Cities in their title, so here’s another couple of suggestions. Firstly, C from Sun Dried Sparrows who says “I’m just plumping for the very first thing that comes into my head as a kind of quick subconscious response and it is…..:”
…which is bound to lighten the mood.
Let’s see what George can conjure up this time:
“Taking the cities from the song, to Manchester City, whose best English footballer was Colin Bell, whose birthday is February 26th, the same date as Michael Bolton…[Oh, Jesus, no…. – Ed]…wait for it…Fats Domino [Better – Ed]…and Johnny Cash, so my song is…:”
I think at this point I should hand back to Rigid Digit, who gave me a whole host of acts who had recorded songs called In The City, the first of which was also suggested by Martin of New Amusements fame:
..and this (just Rigid Digit now):
and (which, if I was still giving points out, would earn a couple for being in one of the coolest films ever, but I’m not, so it won’t – and in any event, I’d have to deduct points for the artist having also been in The Eagles and Ringo Starr & His All Starr Band, surely the least cool bands ever):
Now. Regular readers will know that I have deep-seated hatred of songs being appropriated for advertising purposes, as documented in my S.S.O.S. (Stop Spoiling Our Songs) series. For the avoidance of doubt, I’m with the late, great Bill Hicks on this one:
Here’s a tune which I’ve been meaning to post for a while, and which samples Hicks and explains my thoughts better than I ever could, and which I must credit my old mate Dum Dum (not his real name) for bringing into my life:
See, it’s bad enough when songs we love are appropriated to sell something, but surely it’s even worse when an act we love pops over to an overseas land in the hope that those back home will never find out what they’ve done – and I’m looking at you Bacon and Clooney – isn’t it?:
Mostly because Joey did it too:
But I digress, again.
Rigid’s next suggestion is this: “…or even Starship who built this city on sausage rolls.” Now, we all know what he is obliquely referring to, and that’s the first of the last two Christmas #1s here in the UK. In a week where Tory MPs voted down a motion which would have ensured that children from poor families don’t starve because of the various lockdown restrictions, I thought it probably best if I didn’t post a free link to a song which tried to help. Instead, here’s the (extremely unfunny) video (and yes, this got to #1 in the UK):
…and here’s the song they are referencing:
To be fair, Rigid does offer up a vastly superior song, the title of which references the same source:
So before we set off on a little journey of all the songs mentioning actual cities in their titles or their lyrics (and there’s lots of them), we’ll have a look at all of the suggestions – most of them are mine, admittedly – which feature the word City in the title or in the artiste name. But before we do that, let’s get all of the other ones mopped up.
Here’s the Devonian with, I think, my favourite explanation ever:
“A geographical link… not going off “Cities” though, but rather the fact that the bassist in Talking Heads was the esteemed (albeit not by David Byrne) Tina Weymouth. That got me wondering whether there are any other groups with bassists named after gentrified Dorset coastal settlements. But I couldn’t find any, so I had to settle for a couple of singers instead. Therefore I give you Shelly and Karen Poole and…”
“…which is great and you know it is really.”
Actually, I’m more of an ‘I Am, I Feel’ kinda guy, as it goes, but that’s enough about why I can’t go on public transport without a responsible adult in tow anymore.
“Whilst Devonian was struggling for Dorset-named bass players to link to Tina Weymouth,” pipes up The Great Gog, “I found myself thinking of a feature of said coast that is named in a song – namely the theme tune to children’s TV show Portland Bill (which must have been 20 years old when my kids watched it on satellite telly in the early 00’s).“
I can’t say this rang any bells with me at all, but I have managed to track down a copy of the writer of the theme tune in question, playing…well, it:
Next up is PhonicPat who, undeterred by suggesting the worst record last time out, has come up with a load of absolute bangers this time, starting with this, which kinda follows on given that it’s “made up of the rhythm section of Talking Heads” who just so happen to be husband and wife combo Chris Frantz (drums) and Tina Weymouth (bass and renowned gentrified Dorset coastal settlement):
Talking Heads “…tried to continue without Byrne and released the ‘No Talking Just Heads’ album” Pat continues, “featuring collaborations with Debbie Harry, Andy Partridge and Shaun Ryder amongst others therefore:”
And Pat isn’t finished there:
“[A] David Byrne/Talking Heads link” (as Byrne features as guest vocalist on this):
Now, there’s two things to say about that: firstly Byrne mentions New York at the start, and we’ll be coming on to that city in the fullness of time; and secondly these PhonicPat sponsored words: “…(along with saucy video)“.
In the name of research, strictly so that you don’t have to press play on this next video, you understand, I have watched this, several times, and can confirm that no matter how much you might slow it down or rewind and watch again, whoever had the job of censoring out the wobbly bits did a fine job. Still, best you approach with caution, eh?
Remind me in a bit to give you a related Pet Shop Boys fact, will you?
Since we seem to have landed on band-related suggestions, George is back again:
“From Talking Heads to the Talking Book album by Stevie Wonder, and the track:…”
And moving on to other suggestions about links to the band name we have Alyson from What’s It All About? who says: “We’ve had Dollar [last time out] so in the same vein can I suggest….”
Whoa there tiger! I need to explain the “in the same vein” bit, because Dollar should definitely not be bracketed with The Fizz so lightly. Oh no. For post-1980s fame The Fizz split into two factions: one containing original members Cheryl Baker, Mike Nolan and (sighs) Jay Aston, the other containing Bobby Gee and an almighty war broke out about who should use the name Bucks Fizz to promote their cruise ship wares. And amidst this row, up popped former member of Dollar and never member of the Fizz, David Van Day who, when he wasn’t trying to be the Lawrence Fox of his day and appear all outrageous by dumping his girlfriend live on Channel 5’s The Wright Stuff, elected to appropriate the name Bucks Fizz, go on a tour, sing a couple of their songs and trouser all the cash. The twat.
Anyway, here’s Alyson’s Fizz choice:
What I love about Alyson’s choice is that she could have picked the original of that, by The Romantics, but such is her devotion to ladies having their skirts ripped off as part of a Eurovision dance routine, she simply had to plump for a bit of Fizz. Kudos.
No idea what I’m banging on about? Here you go, complete with withering intro from the much missed Terry Wogan:
Genius pop music. And I mean that.
Alyson has some other suggestions linking to Talking Heads’ name, namely:
Almost time to set off on our tour of cities, have you got your packed lunch and your waterproof coat? Ok, I’ll stall for a bit with some frankly rather clever suggestions.
The source record this time features on Talking Heads’ Fear of Music album, which takes us into the dark territory of phobias. Or, as the Devonian puts it: “Cities is from the album Fear Of Music… which is a Phobia… which is a song by Flowered Up”
It sure is:
Which leads us neatly on to Hal’s suggestions: “Didn’t Cage the Elephant release an album called Melophobia?” he asks, rhetorically. Well, yes, yes they did. And in case you were wondering, Melophobia is the correct technical term for having a fear of music, so here’s something from the album of the same name:
I’ve always avoided them because, well, I thought (and still do) that they have a terrible name, but that’s not bad so maybe I need to reassess.
Anyway, Hal isn’t finished yet: “Which leads us to Phonophobia: The Second Coming by Extreme Noise Terror. Or perhaps not…”
Too late, you’ve said it now.
Phonophobia: The Second Coming is an album by Extreme Noise Terror, and this is one of the songs on it:
Peelie would be proud.
How do you follow that? With this:
Thank goodness for Rol from My Top Ten who kindly steps in to suggest this, which in his eyes “seems an obvious winner”
Frankly, if we’re going to mention bands with the word City in their name, I don’t think we can justifiably omit this lot:
“The other obvious one”, Rol continues undeterred, and I’ll let him carry on because I can’t quite work out where else to place this, “is to jump to Radiohead (as they took their name from a Talking Heads song) and Street Spirit (because there are lots of streets in cities…)
He’s not wrong, there are. I counted at least seven near where I live just the other day, and I think I may have missed some.
I hadn’t finished with bands with City in their names. This lot are definitely less renowned than Mr McKeown and the gang (Bay City Rollers, not Radiohead) and are named after 2000AD’s Judge Dredd comic strip. Play this one loud:
And so we move on to songs with the word City in the title (that aren’t called In the City). You know how until that last little spurt I’ve hardly suggested anything so far? Consider that ended. Eyes down and here we go with the almost entirely forgotten about:
…to an often overlooked gem:
…and the never to be forgotten:
A sort of clever one: this was released on City Rockers, a label synonymous with the electro-clash sound of the early 2000s:
And we shouldn’t overlook this brace of bangers:
…which almost inevitably leads us here:…
…which leads me to this spoof record, but it’s a spoof of a song which doesn’t have a city in it’s title, but I’m sure you’ll get it:
And finally, I was very surprised that absolutely nobody suggested anything from PJ Harvey’s magnificent Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea album, so I guess I’ll have to:
I’m stalling because it feels slightly disingenuous to be suggesting we go on a world tour just as so many cities around the world are locking down to prevent travel and the potential spreading of the Corona virus, so can I ask that you all don your face masks, smear yourselves in hand sanitiser like it’s goose fat before you attempt to swim the Channel, don’t stand so close to me and we’ll be off, safely.
But where to start? “Something from Gerry Rafferty’s very fine City To City album perhaps?” pipes up Rigid Digit again, which seems a perfectly good suggestion, and I’ve plumped, somewhat obviously, for the title track:
And it’s to Rigid Digit that we turn to yet again as we herald the start of The Chain World Tour which, given some places like my beloved Wales have gone into circuit-breaking lockdown today, I must say I feel a teensy bit guilty about, but, nevertheless, here we go.
Truly, there can only be one song to kick this off, and as Rigid quotes: “London, Paris, New York, Munich. Everybody talk about…:“
“I was beaten to M,” moans The Great Gog, “but other songs name-checking a number of cities that sprang to mind were…:”
Not forgetting, as Martin from New Amusements points out, a song which (apart from the Hang the DJ bit) perhaps most perfectly encapsulates where we are right now:
Ok, let’s start, with a whistle-stop tour of the UK. Here’s The Robster:
“I was going to suggest the wonderful Theme For Great Cities but Swiss Adam beat me to it! So I decided to think about songs ABOUT cities. Then I realised I’d be suggesting about 4 million songs and you’d hate me more than I’d hate myself! So in the end I plumped for one city. It was going to be Newport, but the only songs about us are parodies and parodies of parodies. So I chose our neighbours instead and came up with…:
I’m not sure why The Robster thinks this lot only do parodies. Funny songs, of course: it’s their stock in trade. I mean, sure this one is a parody, but it’s the only one I know which actually mentions The Mighty ‘Port in it’s title, and (sorry Rob) from the short time I lived there, seems wholly accurate to me:
Let’s head up to Birmingham next, and I’ll hand the reins back to Swiss Adam for a moment, for he is quoting lines from the source material to guide us to our next destination.
“Birmingham ‘lots of rich people’….” (although I think Byrne was probably referring to B’ham, Alabama.)
For those of us old enough to remember, it’s hard to forget when they fell foul of a Government clause of the 1981 Broadcasting Act which prohibited the broadcast of direct statements by representatives or supporters of 11 Irish political and paramilitary organisations. The restrictions were part of the Thatcher government’s desire to prevent Sinn Féin from employing the media for political advantage.
Yeh, I know. Dry subject.
What this meant in practical terms was that when, in 1987, they appeared on Friday Night Live , a Thames Television programme hosted by Ben Elton, they played Streets of Sorrow but the broadcaster cut to an ad break before they got to Birmingham Six.
Ridiculous as the rules were, a loop-hole meant that we were allowed to hear what Sinn Fein (the political arm of the IRA) had to say, but we could not hear them spoken by a member of the political party. Generally what this meant was the words were read by an actor with a plummy Home Counties accent, but the ludicrousness of the situation was highlighted here, on The Day Today:
This next song actually mentions bombing in Birmingham, although it means it in the “not going down to well at a gig” sense, rather than the more literal interpretation:
In these times of Tiers and Lockdown, I’m not sure we’ll get any better advice than to ‘start drinking til we’re blind’ (again, metaphorically of course – I don’t want any of us to end up in one of those adverts asking people to sponsor a puppy); I know it’s what has got me through writing this post, for a start.
“This mentions Birmingham, Alabama”, offers PhonicPat, and he’s not wrong, it does:
But we’re not quite ready to go trans-Atlantic, because here’s The Robster again:
“I have another one, this time referring to my Devon roots. The nearest city to where I grew up was Exeter – so:”
What I love about IDLES, apart from their records, is that they’re so bloody angry about everything, even their name is in capital letters like they’re shouting that too.
Catchphrase time! Well, if you’re having that, then I’m having this, a song about the nearest city to where I grew up, but where IDLES are VERY ANGRY! about how shit Exeter is, The Long Blondes are just a wee bit disappointed with how dull Peterborough is:
Staying in the UK, here’s Stevie from Charity Chic Music who takes us (much) further Up North:
“David Byrne was born in Scotland – Dumbarton to be precise. So the link is obviously:”
…which not only gets added to the ever-growing pile marked: ‘Must Investigate Further’, it also allows me to include this, which the title obviously references:
Since that also mentions Berlin, we may as well pop over to Europe, y’know, whilst we still can, without having to incorporate a two-week stay in a car park in Kent. Here’s another suggestion from Martin:
Well, this all seems to have got rather gloomy rather quickly. But I have an idea! Let’s pop over to the former capital of Turkey to liven things up a bit:
It became very apparent as I was sifting through the suggestions that there were two cities which featured more than any other, so, after a spot of self-isolation, we’ll pop back to the one in the UK: That London. And first up is another suggestion from Phonic Pat which takes us on a nice little (if expensive) tour of the city:
Here’s Swiss Adam again, quoting lines from the source record:
“…a small city, dark in the day time…”
…and suggesting this absolute shoe-in:
And here’s Martin again with two further capital suggestions:
“For when one is tired of London, one is tired of life, right?” adds Martin. Try telling Alan that:
Obligatory Alan Partridge clip? Tick!
One more from Martin, “…because I love them so…” (me too, mate, me too):
Sticking with Martin’s stream of suggestions, let’s hop over to the other city which seems to be mentioned in song titles more than any other:
“Decidedly not a cover of Ol’ Blue Eyes”, Martin adds. Well no: there’s a more liberal use of the F-word than Sinatra ever committed to record for a start. Plus, without wishing to be pedantic (he says as he is about to do just that), the Sinatra song Martin refers to is actually called Theme from New York, New York, so there was never any real danger of confusion. This next one though, less so:
That’s what being brought up listening to Radio 2 does for you: you remember records like that.
You won’t be surprised to read that I’ve got loads of these, the next of which is by someone who gets a bad rap for being a bit square (I think that’s it; I certainly don’t recall him having done anything unmentionable, apart from Uptown Girl of course), but I think he’s written some absolute corkers, and this is one of them:
New York, here we are, and here’s Odyssey to tell us we fit right in:
When The Strokes released their wonderful and never-bettered debut album Is This It? in 2001 (God, that makes me feel old), there was a difference between the UK and the US release, for the UK release included this, presumably omitted from the US release because it probably wasn’t considered to sit well so close in the wake of 9/11:
Back in time now, to the first record I ever bought, sort of. You can read about that here but in case you can’t be bothered (and if you’ve got this far I can’t blame you for feeling a bit wiped out) here it is:
Remember about seven hours ago, just after The BPA tune, I asked you to remind me to give you a Pet Shop Boys factoid? Well, the time is now: before he worked for Smash Hits magazine (my gateway drug to pop music before I grew up/discovered the NME) Neil Tennant used to work for Marvel Comics, editing out any hint of nipple from the cartoons contained within the pages of the heralded comic book. And that’s not even as funny as the rumour Stuart Maconie made up about him being a fully qualified Rugby League referee.
Anyway, here’s the Pet Shop Boys:
Hold up, Swiss is back with his quoting lyrics and suggesting songs ways:
“Memphis: ‘home of Elvis and the ancient Greeks’”
Leading him here:
And if you’re going to mention Memphis, you either have to include something by a certain Mr Presley (not Reg), or make a joke about being dead on a toilet eating a burger, or post this:
Funnily enough, Mr Simon is going in the opposite direction to Ian Hunter and the Mott the Hoople crew, as suggested by Phonic Pat:
And here’s a group who are considering a move to a completely different part of the US of A:
But as we all know, there’s only one place in America that one should consider moving to:
And that’s where I intended to sign off, were it not for one final suggestion from Martin:
“Oh, and can I add Vegas by Sleeper, just because… well, okay, just because of Louise Wener, really.”
Of course you can: if it doesn’t get cancelled as opposed to being forever rescheduled, I’ll be going to see them perform their debut album Smart, sometime, along with this morning’s postees The Bluetones doing the same with their debut album Expecting to Fly:
And that’s yer lot, except to reveal the actual next record in the actual Chain, which nobody suggested.
Here’s the link: “Talking Heads had a female bassist. So did…“
Which just leaves me to ask for your suggestions for songs which link to 1979 by The Smashing Pumpkins, to be submitted via either the Comments function on this page, or if you prefer anonymity that you ultimately won’t be afforded, by email to firstname.lastname@example.org
1: Whilst I’ve been away, and so so bored, I’ve listened to a lot of music.
2: I love Radiohead, but I have to admit I lost faith/track post Hail to the Thief. Which means that their Amnesiac album somehow managed to pass me by.
3: Every now and then in this slot, which traditionally features quieter, more introspective tunes, I like to throw something in which is, to egotistically quote myself from a previous post, a “glorious cacophany of noise”.
One of the first posts I wrote in memory of my recently deceased best buddy Llŷr was one recalling the time in 2015 when we went to Glastonbury together, and sat getting drenched watching Mary J Blige on the Pyramid Stage.
Truth be told, I have at least a hundred memories of Glastonbury and Llŷr. I simply cannot think of the greatest festival in the world without thinking of him, the two are utterly inseperable.
So this weekend has been tough for me, and doubtless for everyone else who knew the boy wonder.
That’s one of the reasons I’m not there this year. See, every year that I went to Glastonbury, it was with Llŷr – and often his sister Hel – at my side, and I wasn’t sure I would be ready to attend again without him, so soon after he passed. Not that I think that will get any easier as the years pass; when I next lug my festival paraphanalia through the gates, collect my wrist-band and Grauniad-sponsored weekend guide, I know I’ll be looking round for him.
The other reason, of course, is that I didn’t get a ticket.
At the reception after his memorial service (note: not a wake), Hel and I were waiting to be served at a fairly packed bar. In front of us was a bunch of Llŷr’s work colleagues, Cardiff girls doing what Cardiff girls do really well: getting some shots in. Suddenly – mostly because they recognised Hel as being Llŷr’s sister, but partly, I think, because we happened to be in their vicinity – a shot of I know-not-what was thrust into each of our hands. We of course dutifully necked them, it would have been rude not to do so.
One of the girls in the group, Hannah, asked what our names were, and after I’d told her mine she stared, open-mouthed.
“Oh my God,” she said, “You’re Jez! He fucking loved you! He was always talking about you!”
Not for the first nor for the last time that day, I forced a smile and held back a tear.
“You’re a lot older than I thought you were,” she continued. “He never told me you were old.”
Holding back the tears suddenly became a lot easier, as my shoulders shuddered in laughter.
Anyway, Hannah had been to Glastonbury with Llŷr on at least one of the occasions when I hadn’t managed to get a ticket; neither of us were going this year, so we made a pledge that we’d do our darndest to go in 2020, and if we managed to get tickets, we would make it Llŷr’s Farewell Tour.
Where am I going with this? Oh yes….
In 2003, Llŷr and I and a whole bunch of friends – there was around ten of us, I think – went to our first Glastonbury. The headliners on the Pyramid Stage that year were R.E.M. on the Friday night, Radiohead on the Saturday, and Moby on the Sunday.
None of us watched Moby (Doves were playing on The Other Stage, so of course that’s where most of us were), the group was split between R.E.M. on the Pyramid or Primal Scream on The Other Stage (you can probably guess where my affiliations lay), but – and if memory serves me correctly, it was the only time this happened over the whole weekend – we all saw Radiohead together.
A couple of weeks later, back at home in at the flat of filth in Cardiff, Llŷr burst into the living room, triumphantly brandishing a CD he had just burnt off.
And on it, scrawled in marker pen, were the words: Radiohead Glasto 03.
“Here you go, dude,” he said as he thrust it into my hands.
There’s not much more to tell you about my time in hospital, or rather there’s very little left that I can wring a bit of humour and/or a tune or two out of. So I’m going to rattle through the rest of the incidents of note and wrap things up.
Firstly, there’s something I omitted to tell you; in between the nurse’s call to my folks and them walking in on me mid-grease, there is some news as to what exactly I’m still doing there.
The nursing staff remain concerned about my vomiting episode. It is thought that I may have a tear ‘somewhere’ which has led to any liquid I’ve consumed to fall into places not intended to store liquid (you’ll let me know if I get too technical, won’t you?). I am to remain on a water only diet for the time being.
Added to that, and more definitively, on a couple of occasions, it has been observed that I get short of breath rather easily. Test results are now back in and I am told I have a pulmonary embolism, which is a blood-clot on my (left) lung to you and me. As a result, I am placed on a oxygen mask, which makes talking to my parents when they visit rather difficult.
In other news, in a conversation with one of the consultants, I am told that my “sepsis is now under control”. This is a condition which has never been mentioned before and doesn’t crop up again; I assume at the time it is to do with the alarm over my blood tests which first led me to hospital, but it is also omitted from my discharge report.
However, a little research tells me that sepsis is not necessarily, as I thought, a blood problem, it’s a serious complication of an infection, which, if untreated, can lead to multiple organ failure and death. Not so funny anymore, right?
Symptoms of sepsis include:
– a high temperature
– chills and shivering
– fast heartbeat
– fast breathing
…all of which I have presented with or complained about at some point during my admission and stay in hospital.
Although it’s not specifically mentioned in my discharge papers, it seems pretty clear to me that the alarm the hospital showed when they got my blood tests back just before I was admitted was because I probably had sepsis due to the pulmonary embolism.
(After I’m discharged, I go to stay with my parents for a week or so, to convalesce. During that time, various family members visit me, including an aunt who for many years was a nurse, and whose opinion is gratefully received. She reads my discharge papers, and mentions that it was a pulmonary embolism that killed my grandmother. Later, she sends me a message where she mentions me having had a “near-death experience.” I show it to my mother, and flippantly comment that she’s exaggerating things a tad. “No,” says my mother, “I don’t think you realise how serious things were.” Having done the research, I get it now.)
No clever song for this bit, so you can let it sink in just as I did.
For the rest of the week, friends visit: Hel, Kay and Ian on Monday; Richie on Tuesday, Jo on Wednesday. It’s absolutely love to see them, to know friends are true friends concerned for my well-being (that’s not to sound like I’m dissing those who didn’t visit; I got texts from everyone who knew I was in hospital asking how I’m doing and wishing me well). I am snowed under with fruit, magazines, books and an ipod charger.
This last thing is essential as by Monday evening I’ve decided that the in-house entertainment leaves a lot to be desired. There is a television in my room, attached to one of those moveable crane-arms. But here’s the thing: you can only watch the terrestial channels (which is fair enough, I suppose a Sky subscription is a little too much to ask of a cash-strapped NHS), and you can only watch those between 7am and midday.
My morning routine now includes being woken and the lubed up, catching the end of the BBC’s Breakfast show (I’m ill, but not so ill that I’d choose to watch Piers Morgan on ITV), followed by a progam about celebrities tracing family members who fought in the First World War, followed by Homes Under The Hammer (seriously: what is former Manchester United striker Dion Dublin doing on that show?), followed by the first fifteen minutes of some sort of ‘criminals caught on CCTV’ show, hosted by short-arse slaphead do-gooder Dom Littlewood, and then the screen is filled with a message asking me to purchase credits if I wish to keep watching.
I pay my TV licence, and I pay my National Insurance contributions, so I feel a little put out by this demand. I decide I’m not sufficiently obsessed with Bargain Hunt or Flog It! to pay for (what I consider to be) a third time for the privilege of watching them. Thankfully, the radio is free, but none of the digital channels are provided as options. No 6Music then. I end up listening to Radio 2 from mid-day onwards, to idiots calling in to Jeremy Vine, and then Steve Wright, who I find hasn’t changed since the last time I listened to his show, around thirty years ago on the bus home from sixth form (this is not a recommendation).
Alarmingly, repeated exposure means I find myself quite liking the new Michael Buble single. Ipod it is then.
Over the course of the week, I have some physiotherapy, designed to help me walk better again. This is more because I have been laid up and have not actually used my legs for days, rather than addressing the pain, loss of strength and grip in both my hands. But still, on the second session, I progress from standing and walking from my bed to the door, to completing a circuit of the hosiptal floor.
On the Wednesday morning, I go to have a scan on my left arm, to see whether or not I have a blood clot there too. As I am wheeled out of my room, my physiotherapist happens to stroll by. He tells me that he probably won’t come to see me again today (as we had arranged) but he would definitely be back before I am discharged. He gives me the impression this is not going to be soon, that there’s no real rush, and that I’ll be here until the weekend at least.
Back in my room, I’m visited by a consultant who rather sheepishly tells me that they may have lost the results of the biopsies they did the week before. I think she is expecting me to kick off, but it’s not in my nature.
“Ah well, these things happen,” I say. “So you’ll need to do them again, I suppose?”
She looks at me, somewhat surprised.
“If we can’t find them, yes. We have got somebody going through all of the results trying to find them, though. I must say,” she adds,”you’re taking this very well.”
“Well, what’s the point in getting angry about it?” I reason. “It’s not going to make the results magic themselves back into existence. It’s an admin error, as far as I’m concerned, and I’m always blaming admin for things going missing at work, so I can’t really complain when I’m on the receiving end, can I?”
But the following day, before I can have any more physiotherapy, or find out whether my biopsy results have been located, I am told I am to be discharged. Given everything that has been said or alluded to previously, this comes as a bit of a surprise. But several hours later, after a lot of paperwork is completed (the discharge report lists not just the pulmonary embolism and the vomiting event, but also tells me I had pneumonia in my right lung. As far as I can recall, this is the first time this has been mentioned during my stay. I am given a load of medication and creams and strict instructions about how to use at least one of them, and then I am waiting outside for a taxi.
I can’t leave it hanging there, so let’s rewind a few days.
It’s just after my first session that my physiotherapist suggests the catheter should be removed so that I can build my strength up by actually having to get out of bed to go to the toilet. The day before, I had summoned the nurse and advised her that having not had a bowel movement of the solid variety for several days, the urge was now not quite overhwelming or urgent, but certainly imminent. She provides me with a bedpan, offers to help me position myself upon it (“No thanks!”) and then leaves me to my own devices.
I climb on board.
Have you ever tried to use a bed-pan? It’s really difficult. For although you know that everything is in place to catch whatever emerges, your mind remains resolute.
“You learned a long time ago”, it says, “that having a shit in your bed really isn’t the done thing.” I’m not Spud from Trainspotting, for God’s sake. I have control.
And so my body resists, and I have to ease myself back off the bed-pan and admit defeat, mission unaccomplished, .
The next day the catheter is removed. Just so you know, it hurt more coming out that it did going in. Ouchies.
And the combination of these two events (the failure to crap, and the begrudging knowledge that I now have to get up to pee) leaves me with a song in my head, the title of which explains my thought process now I have to actually get up to perfom my daily ablutions in a normal way:
After I posted a TV theme from my childhood on Sunday, which attracted some rather lovely comments about the memories hearing it brought back, I started thinking about other TV themes which evoked the same kind of memories for me.
For those of you who don’t recognise that, it was used as the theme tune at first for the BBC Radio series, and then as the BBC TV Series, of Douglas Adams’ peerless The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, which, as luck would have it, first aired, on 8th March 1978, forty years ago today.
I first encountered it in 1982. How am I able to say that so confidently? Well, because my brother recorded them all onto C60 cassettes, one episode on each side, and drew his own cover art for each of them. There were thirteen episodes, which meant that one blank side was left over, which he filled with songs taped off the Top 40. And amongst those songs, were Status Quo’s Something ‘Bout You Baby I Like and XTC’s Senses Working Overtime. And guess which of those two I’m going to post? Yup:
When my brother left home to join the RAF, I claimed those cassettes, and they stayed with me right up until the final year of my degree course, when one of the options was a Creative Writing for Radio, which I took. At some point in one of the lectures, the subject of The Hitchhiker’s Guide… came up, and, eager to please, I happened to let slip that I had all of them, should anyone wish to borrow them. I don’t think there was one person who didn’t borrow the set and come back to the next lecture gushing about how brilliant they are. So brilliant, in fact, that I never got them back again.
Although it didn’t occur to me at the time, one of the reasons that I took that course was because of how awe inspired I was by Adams’ work, and how I wanted to emulate him. You can tell by the fact that I’m writing this, that I was never successful.
But I digress. One of the biggest misconceptions that people make about the The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – and by people, I mean people who have never read, listened to or watched it – is that it’s something for nerds, of sci-fi fans. Wrong, wrong, wrong. I mean, yes, it is set in space, and yes, there are aliens and robots, and yes there are characters with funny names (Slartibartfast is a favourite, specifically because Adams wanted a character whose name sounded very rude, but which was still actually broadcastable. He therefore started with the name Phartiphukborlz, and changed bits of it until it would be acceptable to the BBC) but above and beyond all of that it’s a very, very funny work, often satirical in places.
Here’s the premise: Arthur Dent is rescued from Earth’s destruction by his long-standing friend, Ford Prefect, who, until his rescue, Arthur has no idea whatsoever is not a human at all, but rather a human-like alien from Betelgeuse, working as a writer for the titular electronic travel guide. The two escape by hitchhiking onto a passing Vogon spacecraft, who have been sent to destroy the Earth to make way for a new Hyperspace By-pass. Together, and along with the President of the Galaxy, Zaphod Beeblebrox, and his companion, Trillian (not forgetting the depressed Marvin the Paranoid Android) they explore the galaxy and along the way discover how, why, by and for whom the Earth was created in the first place.
Okay, so it is sounding a little sci-fi-y, I suppose.
For those of you who are able to listen to it, there’s a rather wonderful episode of Bookclub available on the BBC iPlayer, an hour long special to mark their 20th anniversary, which includes an interview with Adams. If you’re in the UK (and pay your licence fee, of course), it’s here. In it Adams is asked whether or not he considers himself to be a sci-fi writer or not. His answer is rather illuminating:
“Well, I’ve always denied this, I’ve always said I’m primarily a comedy writer, but I have to say that virtually everything I ever write turns out to have something to do with science or science fiction, and anytime I try to right something else, very quickly spaceships and robots start creeping round the edges, so I think I probably do have to own up and say maybe I am a science-fiction writer after all.”
But it’s weird how some science fiction can come true. For example, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is a book that….well, I’ll let The Book itself explain (these are the first words you hear in episode one of the radio series):
“This is the story of ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’: perhaps the most remarkable – certainly the most successful – book ever to come out of the great publishing corporations of Ursa Minor. More popular than ‘The Celestial Homecare Omnibus’, better selling than ’53 More Things To Do in Zero Gravity’ and more controversial than Oolon Calluphid’s trilogy of philosophical blockbusters ‘Where God Went Wrong’, ‘Some More of God’s Greatest Mistakes’ and ‘Who Is This God Person Anyway?’
And in many of the more relaxed civilisations on the Outer Eastern Rim of the Galaxy, The Hitchhiker’s Guide… has already supplanted the great Encyclopaedia Galactica as the standard repository of all knowledge and wisdom, for though it has many omissions and contains much that is apocryphal, or at least wildly inaccurate, it scores over the older, more pedestrian work in two important respects.
First, it is slightly cheaper; and secondly it has the words
inscribed in large friendly letters on its cover.”
Does that sound familiar? A digital portable reference book which gives you access to all of the information and knowledge, and quite a lot of disinformation and ignorance, in the known world?
(If it doesn’t sound familiar to you, then might I suggest you have a look at what you’re reading this on, and reconsider your first answer.)
Here are some other great quotes from the series, some funny, some thought-provoking, many both:
“In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.”
“There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. There is another theory which states that this has already happened.”
“The ships hung in the sky in much the same way that bricks don’t.”
Arthur: You know it’s at times like this, when I’m trapped in a Vogon airlock with a man from Betelgeuse, and about to die of asphyxiation in deep space that I really wish I’d listened to what my mother told me when I was young. Ford: Why, what did she tell you?
Arthur: I don’t know, I didn’t listen.
“On the planet Earth, man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much — the wheel, New York, wars and so on — whilst all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man for precisely the same reasons.”
“It is known that there are an infinite number of worlds, simply because there is an infinite amount of space for them to be in. However, not every one of them is inhabited. Therefore, there must be a finite number of inhabited worlds. Any finite number divided by infinity is as near to nothing as makes no odds, so the average population of all the planets in the Universe can be said to be zero. From this it follows that the population of the whole Universe is also zero, and that any people you may meet from time to time are merely the products of a deranged imagination.”
“Nothing travels faster than the speed of light with the possible exception of bad news, which obeys its own special laws.”
As I mentioned, there’s often a satirical bent to Adams’ writing:
“The disadvantages involved in pulling lots of black sticky slime from out of the ground where it had been safely hidden out of harm’s way, turning it into tar to cover the land with, smoke to fill the air with and pouring the rest into the sea, all seemed to outweigh the advantages of being able to get more quickly from one place to another.”
And perhaps most famously and appropriately for our times, this:
“It is a well known fact that those people who most want to rule people are, ipso facto, those least suited to do it. To summarise the summary: anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job.”
But apart from predicting the creation of the internet and the rise to power of Bush, Trump, or whoever we all think is an incapable idiot this week, Hitchhiker has inspired many other things. Take the Babel Fish. More quotes, I’m afraid:
“The Babel Fish is small, yellow, leech-like, and probably the oddest thing in the universe. It feeds on brain wave energy, absorbing all unconscious frequencies and then excreting telepathically a matrix formed from the conscious frequencies and nerve signals picked up from the speech centres of the brain, the practical upshot of which is that if you stick one in your ear, you can instantly understand anything said to you in any form of language: the speech you hear decodes the brain wave matrix.
Now it is such a bizarrely improbable coincidence that anything so mind-bogglingly useful could evolve purely by chance that some thinkers have chosen to see it as a final and clinching proof of the non-existence of God.
The argument goes something like this:
“I refuse to prove that I exist,” says God, “for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing.”
“But,” says Man, “the Babel fish is a dead giveaway, isn’t it? It could not have evolved by chance. It proves you exist, and so therefore, by your own arguments, you don’t. QED.”
“Oh dear,” says God, “I hadn’t thought of that,” and promptly vanishes in a puff of logic.
“Oh, that was easy,” says Man, and for an encore goes on to prove that blackis white, and gets killed on the next zebra crossing.”
The world of music hasn’t escaped the influence either; £1 million-insured thumb-slapping bass based 80s popsters Level 42 take their name from the answer to Life, The Universe and Everything, and Radiohead had their biggest hit in the UK with this, inspired by the aforementioned Marvin, which reached #3 back in 1997:
Of course, there are other, less critically acclaimed musical moments inspired by the great book, not least this, voiced by actor Stephen Moore, who played perhaps the most memorable character in both the radio and television series. Listening to this now, it sounds like the Not The Nine O’Clock News gang doing a comedy send-up of Kraftwerk:
You know Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, the book on which Blade Runner was based? Well here’s your answer: No.
In case you haven’t guessed by now, I bloody love the universe Adams creates in The Hitchhiker… series. So if this is your first exposure to it, and you decide you want to investigate further, then I envy you and the journey you’re about to embark on.
If I were you, I’d start with the radio series, then track down the TV series (which visually hasn’t aged that well, but of all the differing platforms it is the most faithful to the radio series, and is available on DVD, and probably on YouTube if I could muster up the energy to check), then read the five books in, as Adams himself put it, the increasingly inaccurately titled trilogy, and then, if you really must, watch the film (I’m not saying it’s bad, it’s just…disappointing. Not a patch on the radio series, which you should then revisit to remind yourself just how great it is.)
“But how can we hear them?” you (hopefully) ask.
Ok, well if you want to dip your toe in and try them one at a time, here you go:
Finally, one last thing, and we’re popping back to the BBC iPlayer and to this, the ironically titled: Boring Talks #01 – The End Of The World where Steve Cross close-reads The Hitchhiker’s Guide… to try and work out the specific date of the end of the world. You will be surprised by his conclusions…
(NB – you will need to have a (free to set up) account to listen to either of the BBC iPlayer links, and the programmes are only available for a limited period of time.)
Anyway, that’s my bandwidth shafted for a few days, so I’ll see you at the weekend.
What, I hear you ask, has caused this sudden splurge of posts on a Friday?
Well, it’s like this.
Last night I went to the British Film Institute (cool kids call it the BFI, like it’s a Roald Dahl character) to see Adam Buxton perform a tenth anniversary of his Bug shows.
I’ve mentioned Adam here before, referencing and linking to his excellent podcasts, and I also went to see him perform at the start of the year, a gig which was one of the funniest nights out I’ve ever been to. To quote Blackadder: “I am glad I wore my corset, for I fear my sides have split.”
The Bug shows are a slightly different beast, and those who subscribe to the Murdoch channels may have caught the Bug shows getting an airing on there.
Here’s the deal: Adam plays some ground-breaking music videos, and says some funny stuff about them, the funny stuff often being about comments that have been left under the video clip on YouTube.
There’s more to it than that, and I’m doing Dr Buckles a grave disservice by describing it thusly, but in essence what you get at a Bug show is some incredible videos, some amazing songs, and a lot of “have I actually wet myself this time?” laughs.
Last night’s show was beset by technical issues, and whilst that may have caused others to flounce off in a huff, Adam simply sat, sorted them out every time they arose, and gave us an hilarious running commentary of what had gone wrong and what he was doing about it, as it all played out on the big screen in front of us. I don’t think there was one person in the audience who was annoyed by the tech problems, in fact quite the opposite: we all felt we were seeing an utterly unique show and watching Adam nonchalantly deal with it merely added to the love in the room for him.
Anyway, watching that gave me itchy fingers, and so here we are. And I figured I’d post the videos he showed last night, along with an mp3 of the tune, but without the jokes, because frankly I would not be able to do them justice.
Even if you don’t like the tunes, each of these videos is incredible in its own sweet way, some funny, more just mind-boggling, so I would heartily recommend you give them a look.
I can’t actually embed the next one, and it needs some explanation, so here’s what it said on the hand-out we were given on attending last night’s performance:
“…a groundbreaking exercise in interactive music video making from 2010, that is arguably still the best example there is: created by Chris Milk, The Johnny Cash Project allows viewers to create/illustrate over frames of a guide video, and add them to the viewer. It not only continues to change but is effectively never the same thing twice.”
Just as it’s impossible to see everything you want to when you’re actually at Glastonbury, so it’s almost impossible to watch everything that the BBC screens from the biggest and best festival in the world. I have an awful lot stacked up on my recorded/to watch list.
I’m writing this before the Foo Fighters headline the Saturday night (I’ve seen them a couple of times before – once supporting Oasis in Cardiff, which has always struck me as being the wrong way round, and once headlining at Hyde Park, with Motorhead, and Queens of the Stone Age supporting them – and I expect them to be fricking awesome), but my highlights so far have been The Pretenders, Royal Blood, Lorde, Katy Perry and, of course Radiohead.
The Oxford group delivered a breath-taking set, getting the balance of their more avant-garde bleepy moments and The Hits just about right.
One particular highlight was their rendition of “No Surprises”, not least for the spontaneous cheer that goes up after the line “Bring down the Government, they don’t speak for us”:
To mark the 20th anniversary of the original release of the OK Computer album that first featured on, the band have recently released a remastered and expanded version of the album; here’s the same song lifted from that:
And finally, around the time of the original release of OK Computer, the band developed a reputation for producing visually stunning videos. I’ll leave you with the promo for “No Surprises”. Don’t have nightmares, now will you?
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:
No suggested record can feature twice (unless it has only featured as part of The Official Chain). If you’re not sure – ask!
The only exception to this rule is “Back on the Chain Gang” by The Pretenders, which has been adopted as our theme tune
When making your suggestion, you must provide an explanation of the link between the two songs
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)
Suggestions must be more than just naming a different song by the same artist.
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.
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 ):
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….”
“…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:
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…”
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:
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.”
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.'”
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…”
“…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).”
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.
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?”
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’.”
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.
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.”
(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…”
“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.”
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:
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??):
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.”
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.”
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?
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: