The Chain #41

Never let it be said I’m not a man of my word.

For here we are, a week later, and The Chain is back! Back!! Back!!! (again) for another instalment.

Truth be told, I was totally blown away by the response I received to last week’s edition, so blown away that I almost went full on Sally Field. So y’know, cheers.

I’m also delighted that not only have a couple of old Chain Gang friends chipped in this week, but we also have three new members to welcome aboard.

Before we go any further though, some admin, and I need to add a new rule to the ten I posted last week, namely this:

11. The same artist can feature twice in the same week, but only if suggested by different people. In other words, if you suggest two songs by the same act, I’ll ask you to just pick one of them; if you don’t reply, I’ll pick for one for you.

Actually, this is an old rule that I forgot to include last week. One of you nearly came a cropper with this one, but just about managed to dodge the bullet. You’ll see what I mean.

Ok, so we have 49 new songs (count ’em!) and over three and a half hours worth of tunes to get through this week, and there’s some real treats, including a couple of acts I was surprised to find featuring in The Chain for the first time, some commercially unreleased live stuff, a couple of songs which have featured here before under different guises, a couple of real rarities (I think), a contender for Worst Record In The History of Everything Ever, and – and I mention this now to introduce some totally unneccessary tension and excitement into proceedings – one of you correctly guessed the next record in the Official Chain.

So let’s kick things off with a reminder of the last source song, that is the song that you were all providing suggestions to this week:

20140211-18431840. The Beach Boys – God Only Knows

And where better to start than with a new member of The Chain Gang? Ladies and Gentleman, please rattle your manacles and give a warm welcome to GMFree:

“The most obvious songs that I thought of first were ‘God Only Knows’ by James…”

Now, in the same way that I think if you’re going to cover a song you should try and do something interesting with it, by the same token I think that if you’re going to write a song and give it the same name as universally loved classic, then it is undoubtedly going to be compared to said song, so you’d better make sure yours is good….

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James – God Only Knows

“…and….” Whoa there, GM! We’ve not finished with the songs also called “God Only Knows”.

Over to you The Swede (of Unthought of, though, somehow):

“From ‘God Only Knows’ by The Beach Boys to…..’God Only Knows’ by Joe Henry – same title, different song, fortunately a quite lovely one.”

He’s not wrong, you know:

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Joe Henry – God Only Knows

Now to the first of my oh so many suggestions this week. Imagine Yoda is reciting the name of the source song, he’d probably refer to it like this:

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Young Fathers (feat. Leith Congregational Choir) – Only God Knows

Time for Dirk of sexyloser fame to contribute:

“‘God Only Knows’? So what does he know? Well, he knows it’s true, obviously … so I’ll go for Teenage Fanclub”

Now, strictly speaking, I should be disallowing this suggestion, because this song has featured on The Chain before, back in edition #32, to be precise. However, I’m going to allow it this week for three reasons: firstly, it ws me who suggested it last time; secondly, I posted a Peel Sessions version last time and this time I’m posting the original, and thirdly, because last time it featured I had changed one word in the title from “God” to “Gourd” so that it linked to the source record (XTC’s “The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead”, in case you’re interested).

In other words, this is totally fine:

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Teenage Fanclub – God Knows It’s True

What else does God know? Let’s ask David Bowie, who has probably found out whether he was right by now:

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David Bowie – God Knows I’m Good

That song title in no way references my Gourd pun earlier, by the way.

Next up, it’s Martin from New Amusements, and he’s going all deep and meaningful on us:

“‘God Only Knows’ has one of the most honest first lines in songwriting history, I’ll throw in ‘Honesty’ by Billy Joel.”

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Billy Joel – Honesty

Ok GM, the floor’s yours again:

“…and ‘Lord Only Knows’ by Beck, there is a great version from his Union Chapel show in 2003 which includes harmonica and merges into Hot In Here (Herre !?) in a way only Beck can do.”

You mean this, I presume:

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Beck – Lord Only Knows & Hot In Here (Live at Union Chapel)

We’re into not commercially released stuff with that one, as far as I know. Any chance to feature Beck, and moreover Union Chapel, my favourite venue in London, will be gratefully seized.

Next up, it’s over to The Beard, who provides one of his usual interesting links:

“God Only Knows is featured in the film Boogie Nights. The film centres around the supremely endowed Dirk Diggler, played by Mark Wahlberg. He also starred in ‘Four Brothers’ which is pretty much a remake of the John Wayne driven western ‘The Sons Of Katie Elder’. John Wayne? Motherfuck him as said Public Enemy on Fight The Power.”

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Public Enemy – Fight the Power

Speaking of John Wayne, he also starred in the original release of ‘True Grit’ along with the next artist. Over to you, Alyson (of What’s It All About?):

“In light of [last] Tuesday’s sad news of the death of Glen Campbell, and the fact he stood in for Brian Wilson in 1964 as a Beach Boy, I am reminded of his song ‘Galveston’ which always makes me think of a beach because of the following lines:

‘I still hear your sea waves crashing
While I watch the cannons flashing
I clean my gun
And dream of Galveston.’

I know we’ll all have heard it a lot over the last couple of days but I never tire of these songs of his.”

To be fair, Galveston is one of a clutch of Campbell’s records that I don’t think many of us will get tired of hearing:

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Glen Campbell – Galveston

And so we seem to have made the seamless move from songs which reference ‘God Only Knows’, to songs which link to members, full or part time, of The Beach Boys. So what next?

George has the answer:

“Can I propose a third song that is really, really shit?” he asks.

Yes, I know you haven’t heard his first two suggestions yet. I choose the order the songs feature in, and I want to post his third (really, really shit) suggestion first.

As I pointed out to George in the Comments to last week’s edition, he doesn’t normally ask permission.

“It’s by Wilson Phillips…….one of whom is a relation of a Beach Boy…….and the song is ‘Hold On’. But feel free to disqualify it because it is simply too dreadful.”

George is fully aware that a record being dreadful, or shit, or shittily dreadful, is not enough to preclude it from The Chain. For here, we embrace the dreadfully shit (by which I categorically do not mean Donald J Trump, who we try to keep at arms length at the very least).

And besides, I’ve listened to this – and all of the suggestions – a lot over the last week, and I’ve grown to quite like this:

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Wilson Phillips – Hold On

Actually, two of Wilson Phillips are the daughters of Brian Wilson; I expected someone would suggest a record by the parents of the third member, but nobody did, so I may as well:

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The Mamas & The Papas – Creeque Alley

“God Only Knows”, of course, features on The Beach Boys album “Pet Sounds”, so how about a couple of suggestions which link to that? Step forwards The Great Gog, who I see has now got as far as starting his own blog, but hasn’t yet got round to writing anything on it just yet. He’s probably got far more important things to be getting on with, like suggesting this kind of thing:

“I’ll go with the fact that ‘God Only Knows’ features on the album Pet Sounds. This album also features a track called ‘Caroline, No’. Whenever I spot this on the album, I always think of the similarly titled Talk Talk track, ‘Does Caroline Know?’ – not surprising really as I owned the ‘It’s My Life’ album some time before I acquired Pet Sounds.”

‘Pet Sounds’ is one of those albums, I think – or at least it is to me – that I knew what a great album it is long before I actually got round to listening to it, let alone owning a copy. I don’t think I actually heard ‘Pet Sounds’ until I was in my late twenties, but I remember in my early twenties having a very long discussion in the pub one night with one of my friend’s younger brother’s friends about how amazing it is, without him realising I’d never heard it. Hold the front page: Jez is a complete bullshitter shocker!

Anyway, here’s your suggestion:

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Talk Talk – Does Caroline Know?

Mention ‘Caroline, No’ and I can’t resist posting this:

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Kaiser Chiefs – Caroline, Yes

Bet you all thought I was going to post some Quo then, didn’t you?

Nah.

Oh wait, what’s this?

God Only Knows how utterly predictable I am.

Although it does mean I can post this….

A change of pace now, and here’s Jules from Music From Magazines who I think now feels obliged to suggest something by Lambchop every time:

“‘The Book I Haven’t Read’ (Live Version) from a tour CD titled Pet Sounds suck” by Lambchop.”

This, then, would be one them there rarities I mentioned earlier:

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Lambchop – The Book I Haven’t Read (Live Version)

Next up is BabyLotti:

“I’ve got to link to the best cover of one of The Beach Boys’ songs I’ve ever heard, Don’t worry baby by Ronnie Spector from the She Talks To Rainbows EP. Produced by no less than Joey Ramone”

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Ronnie Spector – Don’t Worry Baby

It’s pretty hard to top that, to be fair, so let’s move on to a new batch of songs, and here’s all the God-bothering suggestions you came up with.

First out of the bag is Alex G from We Will Have Salad:

“So many gods to choose from… luckily I don’t own anything by Hermes House Band, so you’re spared that. Instead, let’s go for the god to whom I am most frequently compared (admittedly in the form “you’re no…”) and some proper old-school house: ‘No Way Back’ by Adonis.”

Shame about the Hermes House Band; I’ve got loads of gags about the Hermes parcel delivery service all lined up and ready to go.

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Adonis – No Way Back

The rest of you stick to referencing songs with ‘God’ in the title, so let’s work our way through them.

First up, a song which we featured a cover by Tricky of back on The Chain #37. Nevertheless, it’s the original version suggested by Martin of New Amusements so it’s in:

“Going the God route, with ‘Dear God’ by XTC…” 

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XTC – Dear God

“…and…” Whoa there, Martin! We’ve not finished with the songs that have God in the title.

First, we’re going back to The Swede for his second suggestion of the week, “…another divine link of a slightly more irreverent nature…” as he quite rightly puts it:

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Half Man Half Biscuit – God Gave Us Life

If any of our overseas readers would like to know who any of the people mentioned in that song are, feel free to email me, or, preferably, Google them.

Time to welcome aboard the latest member of The Chain Gang now, so Ladies and Gentleman, please click your pickaxes together and give a warm welcome to C from Sun Dried Sparrows:

“‘God Only Knows’ made me think of God, not something I do very often, for I am faithless. And then I thought of….”:

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Faithless – God Is A DJ

Who else haven’t we heard from yet? Ah yes, The Robster from Is This The Life?, I wonder what he’s got to offer?

“If we’re going down the God route though, and with God supposedly living in Heaven or some such mythical place, I offer Godspeed You! Black Emperor and the title track of their seminal second album ‘Lift Yr. Skinny Fists, Like Antennas to Heaven…’.”

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Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Antennas To Heaven

Remember when I said there was over three and a half hours worth of tunes this week? Well that’s almost twenty minutes of them, right there. I’d pop the kettle on if I were you.

Ok, so if we’re on songs that feature God in the title and feature an exclamation mark somewhere, then it would be terribly remiss of me not to post this:

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Super Furry Animals – God! Show Me Magic

I’ll tell you who else hasn’t chipped in yet: Charity Chic from Charity Chic Music, that’s who:

“Sorry to disappoint you but there is no God,” he blasphemes, “so…”

Hold up, what did you just say?

“Sorry to disappoint you but there is no God…”

Thought so.

Pray, do continue.

‘No Gods (and Precious Few Heroes)’ by Dick Gaughan, please. JC recently posted a goose-bump inducing live version which is the one to feature”

And it’s JC’s legendary place that I visited to find the specific version CC was after, so it would be rude of me not to attribute credit where credit’s due and provide a link to his site The (New) Vinyl Villain (although if you visit me here, then I’d be really surprised if you didn’t already visit JC).

Here’s the tune:

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Dick Gaughan – No Gods And Precious Few Heroes (Live)

Quite some time ago, or so it seems, I left GMFree hanging with their second suggestion, so it’s probably about time we went back and checked on them.

“I wanted to include The God Machine with the KLF cover ‘What Time is Love” but I don’t own a copy…”

You do now:

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The God Machine  – What Time is Love

Although, admittedly, it’s not the best quality recording, and you kind of didn’t really suggest that one anyway, so for one time only I’m going to allow you to suggest a different song by the same artist:

“…so will offer the equally heavy ‘She Said'”:

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The God Machine – She Said

And we’ll stay with GMFree for a moment longer, if we may:

“I had a habit on the much missed When You Can’t Remember Anything series to mention the great Stephen Jones almost every time, here are two from him…”

Wait a minute, what did I just say about ‘for one time only’…?

But this is the bullet-dodging suggestion I mentioned earlier, for the first of these two suggestions is by Stephen Jones recording under the name TrUcKeR and the other one…erm…isn’t (that one will be along in a bit, if you care to hang around long enough):

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TrUcKeR – God is a Dead Trucker Driving to Heaven

Is it okay if I like the sleeve of that more than I like the actual track….?

Now when I posted the Public Enemy track earlier, I deliberately avoided commenting on how sad it is that a record released in 1989 about black oppression felt as relevant today as it did back then. And that’s because I knew that one of you was going to make precisely that point about a record released a lot earlier than that. So, abramson60, the stage is yours:

“I’ve been listening to a lot of Nina Simone of late so taking the God road ‘Mississippi Goddam’, a song that is sadly still relevant today when we see what happened in Charlottesville [at the weekend] and it was only last week the UK police released the appalling hate crime figures.”

So, no jokes here. Just Miss Nina Simone.

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Nina Simone – Mississippi Goddam

Now, here we are, linking to songs about God, and not one of you has suggested anything by the Reverend Cliff Richard yet. The closest we get is this, from Rol of My Top Ten:

OK, my two suggestions will be as follows…

1. A song with the following lyrics…

No it’s never too late to change your mind
Don’t step on snails, don’t climb in trees,
Love Cliff Richard but please don’t tease
It’s never too late to change your mind

Thereby giving you your Cliff Richard fix even if nobody suggests him this time. Cliff and God go together, after all.

That’s…”

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Argent – God Gave Rock And Roll To You

“…the original version…actually prefer the Kiss version, but they don’t sing the verse about Cliff. Dunno why.”

I would imagine it’s because most of Kiss’ fanbase would have no idea who Cliff is, the heathens.

Anyway, I agree with you about preferring the Kiss version, but I do really like the Argent version too, although every time I’ve heard it my little ears have pricked up as I thought something by Focus had come up on shuffle for me.

We’ll come back to Rol’s second suggestion in a bit.

That’s all the God suggestions done. Next we have a song about Jesus, but I think we need some sort of bridging song, just to reinforce the link here. This’ll do the trick:

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Giorgio Moroder – Son Of My Father

And so to Jesus, and, more specifically, to Martin of New Amusements again. Martin’s not the Messiah, but he knows another Martin who thinks they must be.

“And the son of God route with…”

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Martin Rossiter – I Must Be Jesus

“…because it’s ace.”

He’s right, you know.

For the uninitiated, Mr Rossiter was the lead singer of Gene (who I adore) and I cannot recommend the album that track comes from (‘The Defenestration of Saint Martin’, in case you can’t make it out from the image above) highly enough. An over-looked gem, in my opinion. Seek, and ye shall find.

Which leads us on to God’s greatest adversary, and we’re heading back to GMFree’s seemingly never-ending list of suggestions, which is for this:

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Tori Amos – Father Lucifer

Now GMFree mentioned the much missed When You Can’t Remember Anything blog a little earlier, and regular visitors to these shores will know that the writers of that now deceased blog, SWC and Badger, often contributed here. So I was delighted when SWC got in touch to make some suggestions again this week, although the first one he doesn’t really suggest, more wonders out loud about it, which he knows full well is too much for me to resist:

“I need to decide whether to go down the beach route the boy route or the God route. I thinking if ‘God Only Knows’ then perhaps ‘Better the Devil You Know’ but I may change my mind.”

Too late! And count yourself lucky I picked this one and not the song of the same name by professional Scouser Sonia:

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Kylie Minogue – Better The Devil You Know

Which leads us nicely on to our third new member of the Chain Gang. Ladies and Gentlemen, will you please be upstanding and straighten out your natty suits with arrows on them for KC:

I’d like to suggest ‘The Lord’s Favorite’ by Danish wunderkind iceage and I’ll apologise for the use of the word wunderkind, that was how SWC described them to me.”

That’s the way to do things: if in doubt, blame SWC.

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Iceage – The Lord’s Favorite

Now many of you will recognise KC from her posts on SWC and Badger’s site; she was, if I recall correctly, a relative newcomer to writing and her posts were really rather excellent, so it’s a shame she no longer has a platform to show off her talents. So KC: if you want to continue to write, and haven’t had any other offers to do so elsewhere, drop me an email, you’d be more than welcome to contribute here. Just until the boys get bored and resurrect WYCRA, of course.

God…Lord…Jesus…Lucifer…all suggestions of Biblical proportions. Which leads me back to Rol for his second suggestion, which is this “…because it’s ace.” Have you and Martin been copying each other’s superlatives? You have, haven’t you? You’ve both let me down, you’ve let the class down, but most all you’ve let yourselves down.

Good job both of your ace suggestions really are ace:

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Nickie Lee – The Ten Commandments Of Man

Okay, so having covered the ‘God’ aspect of ‘God Only Knows’, perhaps it’s time to focus on links to one of the other two words in the title, namely ‘Knows’. Here’s Rigid Digit from Stuff & Nonsense

“The Beach Boys tell us that ‘God Only Know’s, but Robert Plant asserts that ‘Heaven Knows’ (which is arguably the same thing?)”

Arguably, but it’s getting late.

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Robert Plant – Heaven Knows

Now as a die-hard fan of The Smiths, mention of a song title that starts with the words “Heaven Knows” sets by clogged up heart beating a little bit faster, for it gives me an excuse to post this:

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Sandie Shaw – Heaven Knows I’m Missing Him Now

Ha ha, fooled you!

Sorry, Rigid, you were saying?

“Marillion then confirm the original statement by saying…”

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Marillion – He Knows You Know

Time to dust off my Chain Catchphrase. Well, if you’re suggesting that, then – altogether now – I’m suggesting this:

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Goldie Lookin Chain – You Knows I Loves You

Moving swiftly on, a couple of you, taking the Boys from The Beach Boys, decided to flip it over to the fairer sex. Here’s George:

“I was going to suggest ‘Girls Girls Girls’ by Sailor but I changed my mind….”

Good job you did, for I’d definitely have to disqualify that one, as it featured in The Chain #35

So, have another go: “…going from Boys to Girls, and The Moments song ‘Girls'”.

Now, every version of that song that I could find credits it to The Moments & The Whatnauts, so I’m hoping this is the tune you were after:

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The Moments & The Whatnauts – Girls

And here’s SWC with an actual, proper suggestion, and it’s no coincidence that I first heard this song because of a post on When You Can’t Remember Anything:

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Girls – Vomit

And as you can see, that features on an album called ‘Father, Son, Holy Ghost’ which makes that a Double-Linker. Points!

So, having exhausted those suggestions too, let’s have a look at some Boys. And one of you got very excited at the prospect. Hello Kay, who shortly after posting her suggestions, sent me a text to say she was worried it made her sound like, and I quote “a right creepy perv”.

See what you think, readers:

“I’m going for the theme boys – so many to choose from. Maybe….” 

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Duran Duran – The Wild Boys

“…or…”

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Wham! – Bad Boys

“…(I am of a certain age)…”

Nothing pervy about a woman of a certain age liking her boys wild and bad. And from the 1980s.

“…but I suppose I should go with the first song I thought of which linked to the Beach Boys and that’s…”

Brace yourself everybody. It’s Worst Record of the Week time, and if this isn’t one of the Worst Records in the History of Everything Ever, then I’d like to know what is. No scrub that, I really wouldn’t.

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Sabrina – Boys (Summertime Love)

Quick, somebody else suggest something. GMFree, you must have a few hundred more up your sleeve, surely?

“Thinking about a link to Beach and Boys lead me to ‘Boys Don’t Cry’ by The Cure included on Standing On a Beach comp, along with the b-side ‘The Exploding Boy’.”

I’ve warned you about this already….

I’ll pick the more unknown one of those two, which featured on the B-Side of the band’s wonderful “In Between Days” single:

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The Cure – The Exploding Boy

Which leads us nicely on to our last cluster of tunes, which relate to the Beach in The Beach Boys. Here’s George for his final suggestion:

“…from Beach to Sand, and…”

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Giant Sand – You Can’t Put Your Arms Around a Memory

In case you’re interested, that’s the other song which has featured on The Chain before, but then it was performed by Ronnie Spector and came from the very same EP as the one BabyLotti suggested earlier.

Let’s have GMFree’s last suggestion, the other one by Stephen Jones, which you’ll recall I’m allowing because he released it under his Baby Bird moniker, as opposed to the TrUcKeR of the earlier suggestion:

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Baby Bird – Aluminium Beach

Over to SWC for his second suggestion now:

“For the beach link I’m going to say ‘Pure Shores’ by All Saints as it’s on the soundtrack to the film ‘The Beach’.”

And because it’s ace, as Rol and Martin might say. (Because it is.)

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All Saints – Pure Shores

Let’s see what else Alyson has conjured up on the beach theme next:

“The other song that came to mind straight away was this one, pure cheese…from back in the early ’70s when this kind of thing was all over the airwaves!”

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The First Class – Beach Baby

Which, cheese or not, is also ace. And it gives me the chance to post this, my final suggestion of the week. And it may seem an odd one to go to, but some of you will have spotted the reason for the link when listening to that last tune:

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Strawberry Switchblade – Since Yesterday

Did you spot it, readers?

Anyway, where were we? Ah yes, beaches.

This, then, The Robster’s final suggestion:

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Kirsty MacColl – He’s On The Beach

Isn’t that ace too? We went through a phase a while ago of having a record by Kirsty pretty much every week on the Chain, but that’s the first time she’s featured in ages. Sort it out folks.

And from an artist who used to feature regularly to the band I was surprised has never featured before, so many thanks to abramson60 for rectifying that with this absolute belter:

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Ramones – Rockaway Beach

Seriously, think of how many albums the Ramones have released, and how many songs of about two minutes that means they’ve recorded. This is the 41st edition of The Chain. How did we get this far without them cropping up?

Which leads me to the final suggestion of the week. Which just so happens to be next song in the Official Chain.

Here’s their link:

“From the Boys on the Beach to…”

And here’s ours, as penned by KC in this Sunshine Strand:

“If Badger was here he would agree that the greatest song to feature beaches either in the band title or the song title is…” 

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41. Martha And The Muffins – Echo Beach

Congratulations, KC! Points to the New Girl! The rest of you: hang your heads in shame, she’s tucked you all right up there.

So, all that leaves me to do is to thank you all again for the love you’ve shown The Chain, for your awesome (and ace) suggestions, and to ask you to do it all over again.

Your suggestions, please, for songs which link to “Echo Beach” by Martha and The Muffins, along with a brief description of the link, via the Comments Section down below, in time for the next edition.

More soon.

More Looney Tunes (How to Do a Cover Version edition)

Back on Halloween, I posted a song from a compilation album , called “Looney Tunes” that I got given as a kid, which sparked a bit of interest, so as requested, and as promised, I said I’d post a few more tunes from it.

A few of the acts feature twice: The Coasters, David Seville (although on one of the tunes he’s accompanied by The Chipmunks), Nervous Norvus, and the starting point for this post: The Rivingtons.

When I posted back on Halloween, regular Chain Gang contributor Alyson from “What’s It All About, Alfie” commented thus:

“I’ve been trying to work out what that song that goes Papa-Oom-Maw-Maw is called for years and it turns out it’s just that – Don’t know how it could fit into The Chain but I’m going to try as I want to hear it again! One of the tunes of my childhood listening to Junior Choice.”

(Me, my brother and two of our friends had a joint birthday party when we were kids; my Mum wrote into Junior Choice and the sadly missed Ed “Stewpot” Stewart – another victim of 2016 – read it out. But that, my first glimpse of fame, is a story for another time. Although I have pretty much just told you all of the key points.)

Now Alyson has just reached the milestone of her 100th post, so it seemed an apt moment for me to fulfil my promise to post said tune. Congratulations Alyson. And the rest of you, if you don’t already, you should pay her blog a visit.

Here you go. No, in fact, have both of their songs from that album:

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The Rivingtons – Papa Oom Mow Mow

The Rivingtons – Bird’s The Word

There’s a reason I posted both, of course. In 1963, The Trashmen amalgamated the two tunes into what is almost definitely the first example of a mash-up:

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The Trashmen – Surfin’ Bird

There are two – actually, there’s probably many more than two, but two will do for now – versions of that by more recent, much cooler bands. From 1979, this lot of utterly demented weirdos who I can’t believe I’ve only started to get into in the last five years or so – what on earth was I thinking?

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The Cramps – Surfin’ Bird

And from a couple of years earlier, 1977 to be precise, the coolest rock’n’roll band to ever grace this planet, and a again a band I was shamefully late to, a situation which my old mate Johnny Groves (hello, if you still read this!), who couldn’t believe I didn’t own anything by them, rectified by furnishing me with a cassette of “All the Stuff (And More) Volume One”:

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Ramones – Surfin’ Bird

More soon.

Friday Night Music Club (That Summer Feeling #4 – #14)

Evening all.

Remarkably, the shockwaves of me posting summery records for three consecutive days doesn’t seem to have had any detrimental effect on the weather – in fact if we’re to believe the weather forecasts it’s set to continue for the rest of the weekend.

So, I thought I’d give you a few more tunes to soundtrack your barbecues and beach parties over the next couple of days. Nothing terribly surprising in here, I don’t think, bar maybe one or two. But every one is an absolute pearler,

The first couple of songs pretty much sum up how my week working in That London has been. Here’s Sir William Broad, under his alter ego, the King of the Curled Lip:

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326. Billy Idol – Hot In The City

and this, one of the greatest summer records ever, in my not so humble opinion:

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327. The Lovin’ Spoonful – Summer In The City

I first came into ownership of both of these records at roughly the same time, when I was at 6th Form, where I took on the responsibility of providing tunes for the common room. There was a cheap and knackered old stereo in there, a turntable with a worn down belt that prohibited anything being played at the correct speed, and a radio that the aerial had long since perished on, and two tape decks, only one of which worked.

As you’ll find out soon – this is my definition of soon, mind – in the eponymous auto-biographical thread of this blog, it was at 6th Form that I forged my musical identity, if that doesn’t sound too pretentious, and I took great pleasure in preparing a new mixtape pretty much every night to grace the airs of the musty common room. My parents will doubtless recall me spending every night hunched over my Dad’s recently acquired Midi system, headphones on, studiously selecting a new set of tracks to dazzle my peers with instead of, say, doing my homework. It was these tapes, finely honed to ensure every taste was catered for, that I think laid the foundations for me starting to DJ a few years later – not the technical skills, mind, I’ve never got the hang of “proper” mixing – but the ability to tailor a set to an expectant, diverse crowd.

By the time the first summer arrived, at the end of my stint in the Lower 6th, I was, I felt, a fully fledged Indie kid, but didn’t want to be one of those people who forces their music down everyone’s throats, so I elected to temper the cool stuff with some more mainstream records. I would ask that you bear this in mind for coming posts, as this will be my defence for having purchased some pretty poor pop in the same period. It wasn’t for me, it was for those other kids who, y’know, wouldn’t know a cool record if it bit them on the arse.

As part of this campaign, I bought a Now! album – the only one I have ever purchased – Now! That’s What I Call Summer. It’s a mixed bag, as you’d expect, with Cliff Richard a little more prominent than is frankly necessary.

But there were an above average strike rate of good stuff on there too, and “Summer in the City” was chief among them, head and shoulders above many of the tracks featured.

In June 2000, fresh from picking up the Best New Act Award a year earlier at the Brits, through some pretty canny exploitation of voting via that there new-fangled internet thing, Belle & Sebastian released this absolute corker, which, if you’re unfamiliar with, may have you scratching your head as to why I’m including it in a summer mix. Well hold your horses, and give it until the lyrical refrain at the end:

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328. Belle & Sebastian – Legal Man

Now, I may find myself saying this a lot tonight and over the summer posts that will follow over the weekend, but this is one my favourite summer songs ever:

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329. The Undertones – Here Comes the Summer

The song has recently been used in a TV ad campaign by Aldi, and I can’t make up my mind whether that’s a good thing or not. Sure, it means that every now and then I get to hear it blasting from my TV for 40 seconds, but on the other hand – Aldi????? Is nothing sacred?? Whatever next – The Velvet Underground’s “Venus in Furs” being used to advertise Pirelli tyres? “Tame” by Pixies advertising Smirnoff vodka? Oh wait….both those things have happened…..

So, anyway, if you’re lucky, you’ll be spending some time soon on a beach somewhere, so here’s a few beachy heads which sound just as ace today as they did when they first came out, none of which require any introduction or comment from me:

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330. Ramones – Rockaway Beach

(I’m gobsmacked. Unless I forgot to tag them previously, this is the first time I’ve posted a Ramones tune. I deserve to have my blogging credentials revoked.)

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331. The Go-Go’s – Beatnik Beach

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332. Martha And The Muffins – Echo Beach

Another one that featured on that Now! album, there. See, £4.99 well spent already (which dates me, obviously. A newly released double album on vinyl for £4.99 – them’s were the days…)

I was about to say “Now,onto something more contemporary”, which would be true, since the most recent tune I’ve posted so far came out sixteen years ago, but I was saddened to find this came out ten years ago. Saddened only in the sense that it means it’s ten years since I witnessed bass player Thomas “The House of Lords” Dartnall fall off the stage in Cardiff’s Barfly. *Sighs* “I grow old…I grow old…I shall wear the bottom of my trousers rolled.” (Bit of Prufrock for you there, poetry fans).

Still, it carries on thematically from Legal Man and Echo Beach in depicting a protagonist desperate to escape the drudge of an office job to enjoy some time soaking up the rays (NB: My boss should read nothing into this):

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333. The Young Knives – Weekends And Bleak Days (Hot Summer)

“Hot summer, what a bummer”, indeed.

The next two songs were released ten years apart, but in my mind the latter is the spiritual offspring of the former.

First, here’s Damon and the Blurboys with their observations on the beery shag-culture of holidays in Greece:

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334. Blur – Girls & Boys

…and here’s Mike Skinner, living the dream:

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335. The Streets – Fit But You Know It (Radio Edit)

And so to the last tune for the night, and to one my favourite summer songs ever, by one of the coolest and most influential artists ever to walk this earth:

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336. Sly & The Family Stone – Hot Fun in the Summertime

That’ll do you for tonight.

More soon.

Friday Night Music Club

Hello!

I’ve been struggling all week to come up with anything to play this week. And then, tonight, Friday, a day later than I usually start writing these posts, on my way home from work I found myself thinking about how the way that I get to hear about new music has changed so much.

Nowadays, I’m pretty much reliant on my blogging chums to flag new stuff to me; bar Jools Holland’s “Later…” there’s next to no music television programmes on in the UK these days (Friday night BBC4 documentaries excepted); or occasionally a friend will text, tweet or email me to ask if I’ve heard of someone or other, or to see if I want to go see someone I’ve never heard of live (the answer’s generally yes, as long as a) I’m not skint; b) I can track down at least one song that I like by the suggested act, and c) whether or not I value the opinion of the person asking or not).

When I was a kid, new music did not appear on the Multi-Coloured Swap Shop. Songs that were already hits appeared on Top of the Pops. And I had no idea what the Old Grey Whistle Test was, and would probably would have avoided it even if I did.

No, when I was growing up the only way I heard anything new was via the radio.

And that gave me an idea for tonight’s post. Four words to strike fear into the heart of any of you who endured my recent run of TV show titled posts. To misquote Martin Luther King: “I have a theme..”

Radio.

So I got home, cranked the laptop up, opened iTunes and typed “Radio” into the search window.

427 songs were suggested.

Jesus, this thread is going to finish me off, I thought.

But fear not: by the time I’d eliminated all the songs I have by TV on the Radio, or by Radiohead, or were on a rather fine Radio Soulwax mix I downloaded recently, or any that were on the list because they were the Radio Edit of a single, I was down to a much more palatable amount.

So, let’s crack on, shall we?

And what better place to start than with this stone cold classic:

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273. R.E.M. – Radio Free Europe (Original Hib Tone Version)

I’ve had a life-long love affair with R.E.M. Well, not quite life-long. I wish I could say I bought this when it first came out, but no. I first heard it on the third R.E.M. album I ever bought, a Best of (regular readers will perhaps be surprised to learn it wasn’t the first record I ever bought by the band) called “Eponymous”.

Radio Free Europe first came out in 1981, the band’s first single, later resurfacing as the opening track on their debut album “Murmur” two years later. I didn’t buy anything by the band until 1987’s “Document”, four years and five albums later, but I’d still like to think I was a little ahead of the majority of the pack here in the UK, where most were unaware of them until 1988’s “Green” album, interest growing somewhat by the time 1991’s “Out of Time” came out, and hitting absolute peak with 1992’s flawless “Automatic For The People”.

In the summer of 1989, I somehow found myself at quite a posh garden party, full of young darlings, public school types, who had been quite astonished that I didn’t know I was supposed to kiss the proffered hand of a young lady I was introduced to. Yes, THAT posh. (I shook it, an act which was greeted by quite the round of disbelieving guffaws.)

Anyway, feeling ever so-slightly out of place, I proceeded to get phenomenally pissed, and wandered into a barn where a DJ was trying had to tempt the fops onto the dancefloor. He played R.E.M.’s “Orange Crush” from their Green album, which pleased me (not enough to dance, mind), that was until the DJ took to the microphone and said: “That was R.E.M. a new, up and coming band from the U.S.of A.”

I couldn’t take it, marched over and started to berate him about how they were neither new nor up and coming, how they’d been around for years, how that track was from their sixth album and how that was the sort of thing he really should know if he was going to make it in the cut-throat world of DJ’ing, quietly omitting to mention that I’d only been a fan since the album before.

Musical snobbery, eh? Never gets you anywhere. Oh, what do you philistines know, anyway?

Moving on to 1993, and another of my favourite bands:

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274. Teenage Fanclub – Radio

I don’t have much to say about this, apart from it being the lead single from their “Thirteen” album, that it’s a quite magnificent single from a quite magnificent album, which, for reasons that I don’t think I’ll ever really understand, saw the band completely fail to capitalise on their break-through album “Bandwagonesque”. If you don’t own them, kids, go get ’em. Or, if you hang around here long enough, I’ll probably end up posting every song from them both sooner or later.

Moving on to another artist whose work I’ve admired for a great many years:

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275. Elvis Costello – Radio, Radio

This is from 1978, when Mr McManus was at his snarling best, so much so that following an appearance on US show Saturday Night Live in 1977, he found himself banned from appearing again.

Here’s the story: The Sex Pistols were booked to appear on the show, but for one reason or another – reportedly, a lack of visas – they couldn’t make it and Elvis and his band The Attractions were roped in. His record company wanted them to perform their current UK single “Less Than Zero” – which was about Oswald Moseley, leader of the fascist movement in the UK – but Costello was less keen, thinking the song wasn’t exactly going to resonate with an American audience.

So Costello took the stage, started to play “Less Than Zero” before calling proceedings to a halt a few bars in, announcing “I’m sorry, ladies and gentlemen, but there’s no reason to do this song here” before launching into “Radio Radio” instead.

Going so far off message was not appreciated by the powers that be; he wasn’t invited back until 1989. He did, later, however reference it on the 25th Anniversary Show, when, as Beastie Boys were just getting going on “Sabotage”, this happened:

Wow.

Where do you go to top that? Well, you can’t, but I know someone who’ll give it a bloody good go:

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276. The Wonder Stuff – Radio Ass Kiss

Ironically, this track, written by popular rhyming slang Miles Hunt, was only ever released as a single in the US, and not here in the UK, where it remained just another track from their second, not-quite-as-good-as-their-first album “Hup!”. Quite how they got away with lines like “Bugger the plugger” is beyond me. But maybe I shouldn’t be surprised: many years ago I saw Phil Collins being interviewed after he had appeared in US hit TV show “Miami Vice”. Collins related how when he attended the script run through, he’d found that his character repeatedly used the phrase “wanker”, and Collins asked the producers if they knew what it meant.

“Sure,” came the response, “it’s English slang for ‘idiot’, right?”

Fortuitously, there was nobody better qualified than Collins to enlighten them as to the true meaning.

One of the other acts who were approached to appear on Saturday Night Live on that night Costello so infuriated the TV bosses, were this next lot. They declined the invitation, giving this as their explanation: “We don’t substitute for anybody.” Bonus cool points.

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277. Ramones – Do You Remember Rock ‘N’ Roll Radio?

Well, yes, Joey, Johnny, Tommy, Dee Dee, I do, which is why I’m writing this post.

You don’t need me to tell you about the Ramones, now do you? Thought not.

One person whose music is perhaps as far away from the Ramones and Rock’n’Roll Radio as can be is the next chap:

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278. John Denver – Late Nite Radio

Denver is probably best known over here for a) Annie’s Song, b) looking like the Milky Bar Kid, c) his love of the Rocky Mountains, and d) his love of flying. Sadly, he failed to survive the occasion when he inadvertently combined those last two by crashing his plane into one of them.

Time for a musical interlude. Not that I’m saying what you’ve had so far wasn’t musical, just…this sounds like a musical interlude. And that’s a good thing. Particularly when it’s provided by a band who most people only know for one song, and that a remixed version of it, and even more so when to the best of my knowledge, this sounds like nothing else they’ve ever done:

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279. Cornershop – Kalluri’s Radio (Version)

And we’re back in the room.

Next up, a song which first came to my attention via a compilation album called “The Trip: Created by Saint Etienne”. It’s crammed full of Northern Soul, down-tempo numbers, lost and obscure nuggets from the 60s and 70s; if you’ve never heard it then I urge you to track down a copy.

I say it’s created by Saint Etienne, it’s more likely to just be Etienne stalwart and fountain of all pop knowledge Bob Stanley that compiled it. Bob once was kind enough to retweet a link to these pages once, so I reckon I owe him a name-check.

In the real world, knowing that a member of Saint Etienne had read one of my posts would earn me extra bonus points; alas it was predominantly about Bucks Fizz with a healthy portion of Shakin’ Stevens, so I reckon I’m probably in cool point deficit now. Ho hum.

But I digress. This is Douglas Dillard, banjo player (banjoist? banjoer?) and founder member of bluegrass outfit The Dillards, and Harold Eugene “Gene” Clark, singer, songwriter, guitarist  and founder member of The Byrds.

Together, they came together under the inspired name of:

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280. Doug Dillard & Gene Clark – The Radio Song

Two to go now, and it’s time for some 2 Tone ska. I don’t feature nearly enough of this kind of stuff on these pages, which some of you poor misguided fools may consider a blessing, so here’s an absolute belter to rectify that:

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281. The Selecter – On My Radio

And so to the last one for tonight, and any post about songs with the word Radio in the title, inspired by my musings on how I rarely listen to the radio these days (6music at the weekends aside, and particularly former Fun Lovin’ Criminal Huey Morgan’s show of a Saturday morning, which is simply unmissable), would not be complete without this polished gem (it features and was produced by Trevor Horn, so it was never going to be anything but polished, now was it?):

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282. The Buggles – Video Killed The Radio Star

What’s extraordinary about that record is that although it’s written from a future perspective, it was actually first released in 1977 (by Bruce Woolley and The Camera Club), before music videos were anywhere near the peak they would become. MTV wouldn’t even be launched for another four years, yet all that the song prophesizes – how polish, image, self-promotion, glamour and glitz would become the prevalent (X) factor, as opposed to, y’know, how good you are and what you sound like – has pretty much come true.

Which is a fairly bleak way to wrap things up, but there you go.

More soon.

How Not to Do a Cover Version

Some songs are crying out for a cover. Others are just so perfect in the first place, you should steer clear.

Today, one simple lesson if you decide to tackle the latter.

Don’t.

Especially if you’re in The Beautiful South:

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The Beautiful South – Blitzkrieg Bop

Erase that from your memories immediately. Here’s the original:

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Ramones – Blitzkrieg Bop

More soon.