Scene: an empty warehouse, in darkness.
FX: A door creaks opens, a switch clicks.
The lights flicker into life.
Delivery Man 1 [poking his head through the door]: Yes, this looks like it.
Delivery Man 1 backs into view, clipboard under arm, guiding a large object covered in a sheet, which is being pushed by Delivery Man 2 with considerably more effort than Delivery Man 1 is expending.
FX: The door slams shut.
Delivery Man 2: Whereabouts does it need to go? What does the order say?
Delivery Man 1 consults the clipboard.
Delivery Man 1: It says “Leave in the middle of the floor, covered, as if it’s been here for ages.”
Delivery Man 2 [with a shrug]: Bit weird, but if that’s what it says.
Job done, they exit, leaving the light on.
FX: the door opens and closes. Pause. Repeat.
An incredibly handsome, if fat and bald, man enters the room. He surveys the object before removing the sheet.
Incredibly handsome, if fat and bald, man: And we’re back in the room!
Hello, and welcome to The Chain. Where’ve you been? I’ve been waiting for you.
Prompted by a question about whether one of this week’s suggestions qualified under the rules, and nothing whatsoever to do with the amount of time since one of these posts appeared, nosireebob, I thought it might be best if I go over them again here, with a brief explanation of what we do here.
So, The Chain is a feature on BBC 6Music’s Radcliffe and Maconie show (and prior to that, their show on BBC Radio 2), where a record is played and they invite suggestions as to what record could be played next, which must link in some way to the one just played.
The difference here is that whilst they choose just one record to play, we try to post all of the suggestions which you submit.
The only rules are:
- 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.
First out of the traps last time was Charity Chic from Charity Chic Music who wrote:
“It has to be something off ‘Universal Audio’, the final album by The Delgados. I Fought the Angels would do rather nicely I feel”
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 ):
Sticking with the Universal theme, SWC from When You Can’t Remember Anything suggested this:
whilst The Great Gog wrote:
“…seeing as we’re all commenting on The Universal, Red Hot Chilli Peppers’ Universally Speaking would seem apt.”
And The Beard quoted a completely different song which contains the word “Universal”:
“Universal, unique untouched, unadulterated, the raw uncut”
He is, of course, referring to this:
Time for the first interlude of the day; I stumbled along this clip the other day, which I’m sure you’ll agree contains some quite wizardly rapping:
Anyway, where were we?
Ah yes. Blur’s ‘The Universal’. Take it away Julian of Music from Magazines fame:
“Blur did a song “Beetlebum”
The Beatles did a song “Across The Universe”
Laibach did a version of “Across The Universe”
Laibach nailed “Sympathy For The Devil”
(The 7.52 version please)”
As you wish:
Time for a big Chain welcome for the first of two new contributors to The Chain this week, here’s Telefrank:
“The video for ‘The Universal’ references the Korova Milk Bar, so something by Wendy Carlos natch.”
Just to join up the dots: the Korova Milk Bar features in ‘A Clockwork Orange’, so this seemed like as good a tune as any:
Walter from A Few Good Times in My Life pointed out that “…the opposite of universe might be the underground. So…”
It’s scary how that song is so relevant now, 35 years after it came out. “Times have changed”, some people say. I’d play them that and respectfully disagree.
Anyway, before I start going off on one, more Universal shenanigans. Here’s Alex G from We Will Have Salad:
“A nice easy link from ‘Universal’ to another well-known film studio: Columbia.”
Walter continues the theme: “Universal is also a music label distributing music of various and different artists. So I suggest:”
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….”
“…or another of my pet favorites…”
“…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:
Over to The Swede from Unthought of, though, somehow next, who says:
“I’ll keep things cosmic and suggest ‘Space is Deep’ by Hawkwind – the studio version from ‘Doremi Fasol Latido’ please.”
A couple of you suggested links from lyrics withing ‘The Universal’, which is fair enough and fine by me. For example, Rigid Digit from Stuff & Nonsense suggested:
“‘The Universal’ includes the lines:
“And to karaoke songs,
We like to sing along,
Although the words are wrong”
So .. mondegreens (misheard lyrics) and possibly the most well known: ‘Scuse me while I kiss this guy'”
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…”
“…or, I guess…”
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
“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.'”
He’s still not done yet, mind:
“But I’d rather suggest a song I really like, so the gas connection allows me to pitch the much-less-played ‘It’s A Gas’ by The Wedding Present. Any excuse to get the Gedge out, after all.”
I could not agree more.
Catchphrase time! If you’re suggesting that, then I’m suggesting this:
And as a special treat, here’s Marc Bolan performing ‘Life’s A Gas’ with Cilla Black, of all people:
The less said about that the better, I think.
But whilst we’re on adverts, here’s Snuff from their ace “Flibbiddydibbiddydob” album (these are so short, you may as well have two):
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…”
Well, if you’re suggesting that, then I’m suggesting this:
Sorry GG, I interupted, do carry on:
“…[Chelsea Girls is] also referenced on Mighty Mighty’s ‘Is There Anyone Out There?’ Which sort of links back to matters universal.”
Right, where next? Since we seem to have exhausted all of the possibilities of links to “The Universal”, how about links to Blur? Seems like a plan.
Over to Birthday Boy Rol (45 today!) from My Top Ten, then, with two and a half suggestions:
“Suggestion that needs no explanation: ‘Mr. Blur’ by Tom Verlaine.”
He continues: “Suggestion that leads a little more explanation: Blur used to be called Seymour. I’m sure someone will link to the obvious song from that (the one about a record company boss…”
You mean this one, I assume?
“…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).”
The Great Gog’s back:
“As Rol has mentioned Seymour, the track that I always think of when I hear Blur’s previous name is ‘Read About Seymour’ by Swell Maps.”
Now, before he started listing spacey songs, abramson60 also proffered up a few relating to the name of Blur:
“Blur taken as unclear leads me to…”
You can all count yourself lucky that I decided not to post the version with Gazza on it. Actually, that might have been quite appropriate, since writing and indeed reading The Chain often has the air of a hostage situation about it, so maybe we should expect him to rock up with a bucket of fried chicken and a fishing rod.
Anyway, back to you abramson60:
“…or maybe when everything clears…”
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?”
Back to Julian for his obligatory weekly suggestion of a record by Lambchop:
“A Blur is what the world is when ones had too many HIC!!
Where was I ?
Who fucking knows?
Oh yes its all coming back to me…..”
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.
But frankly, you had me at “Shipbuilding”:
“Damon Albarn was the boyfriend of Justine Frischmann of Elastica. So let’s have ‘Stutter’ from them.”
The first record I ever bought by Elastica this, albeit on an NME compilation album of their Singles of the Week from 1993, and without doubt one of the finest ever songs about erectile disfunction.
Charity Chic’s back, with the obligatory Clash record of the week. Don’t worry George, there’s a finite number of them that can be suggested:
“Damon Albarn was in The Good,The Bad and the Queen, as was Paul Simonon who wrote and sung ‘Guns of Brixton'”
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.”
Well, if you’re suggesting that, then I’m suggesting this:
In fact, given his involvement with Gorillaz, you could describe Albarn as a…
(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…”
Hands down winner of the “Worst Record of the Week” award, there.
“Used in a Tampax advert at some point in the nineties too,” pipes up The Beard. Now, let’s not lower ourselves by making any jokes about that particualr subject. That’s it. None. End of. Period.
Instead, let’s move onto the other members of Blur, and focus for a moment on bass player Alex James. Over to you, George:
“Another Alex is Alex Harvey, so the song is from the first Sensational Alex Harvey Band album ‘Framed’, and ‘The Hammer Song’.”
Another from SWC next, I think:
“When he is not doing that [being in Blur] he schmoozes up to his famous neighbours David Cameron and Jeremy Clarkson. He also pretends to make cheese which gives us a lovely link to ‘Gorgonzola’ by Leslie Sarony.”
Mention any of the old music hall acts such as Leslie, and I’m afraid I can’t help thinking of this chap:
Back over to Rol, who might just see this post before his birthday’s finished:
“All this talk of Alex James’s cheese behooves me to suggest Copy Cats by The Humdrum Express, which features the lines…
“I read a Jamie Oliver’s Feastival review
Where ex-Top Gear presenters jumped the queue
To a sign publicising ageing sleaze
But it was Alex James’s aptly named new cheese”
(It also features the line “More Betty Than Swervedriver”, which I’m half thinking of stealing to rename my blog.)”
Bagsy and first dibs duly note.
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:
Two band members left, and absolutely nobody suggested anything Graham Coxon-related so I had a quick shufty round and found that according to wikipedia, he appeared on Blue Peter twice as a child.
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.”
Times may not change, by Primal Sceam certainly have over the years, haven’t they?
Finally, Rowntree has stood for election three times on behalf of the Labour party, losing on each occasion. Which leads me to this:
Which just leaves us to reveal what the next record in the Official Chain is, and many of you will have noticed the absence of one particular song from the start of this post, when we looked at songs with the word “Universal” in the title. Many people wanted to suggest this, but Swiss Adam from baggingarea was the first out of the traps so the kudos and points are his this week:
“The Small Faces have their own ‘Universal’ which is a lovely song.”
Ain’t that the truth:
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?