The Chain #48

I know I have often moaned in the past about how time-consuming it is to write The Chain, but this morning, at around 2am, having put off writing it every day this week, it suddenly occured to me that there are three reasons why it takes me so long:

1. You won’t be surprised to learn that I don’t own every record that gets suggested, so I have to track down a copy to post here. I quite enjoy this aspect, as it goes;

2. As I’m going through all of your suggestions, I put all the songs on a playlist so I can familiarise myself with them, and hopefully come up with either some decent jokes (I’ll let you be the judge of how succcesful I am with that) and/or some funny video clips to include in the post. This latter aspect, as I’m sure you can imagine, often leads me down a YouTube rabbithole. That said, I quite enjoy this aspect too;

3. For practically every song you suggest, I manage to think of at least one more to link to either the source record, or your suggestion. That’s not meant to sound like a boast, more a statement of fact: people who write music-based blogs tend to know quite a lot of records. I try to exert some kind of control over the amount of my own suggestions I include but sometimes I just can’t resist. I really like this aspect as well.

So next time I moan about what a pain it is to write The Chain, ignore me. Once I get going on it, I bloody love it.

As can be seen by the amount of suggestions I’ve made this time.

And that’s despite the source record being, in my opinion, one of the worst singles by – well, I’m not going to say the worst bands, not when Black Eyed Peas and Coldplay are both things – but certainly by a band that I don’t much care for.

In case you’ve forgotten, said source record this time around was this:

U2 – Beautiful Day

As usual, the suggestions can be split into categories, one for each word: ‘U2’, ‘Beautiful’ and ‘Day’, with a few tangents thrown in for good measure.

We’ll save the vitriol of links to U2 for later I think, so let’s start with a suggestion from PhonicPat:

“[Beautiful Day] is from their ‘All That You Can’t Leave Behind” album which leads nicely to…:”

Over to C from Sun Dried Sparrows to kick off all the nominations linked to the word ‘Day’ and complete the cleansing of the palate:

“I think ‘keeping it simple’ will be my mantra from now on, so… Beautiful Day takes me to beautiful Days. I’ve just been through your back pages and I couldn’t see Kirsty MacColl’s sublime cover version appearing here before, so can we have that one please?”

But of course!

Kirsty MacColl – Days

Next up is a clutch of suggestions/songs mentioned in passing – which you all know I can’t resist – from Kay. For those of you who don’t know, Kay is my manager at work, but also a friend. She, too, wants to keep things simple:

“I’m a simple soul [I’m saying nothing – Ed], so I immediately started thinking of songs about a particular day of the week. First thought was…”:

New Order – Blue Monday

“…then remembered [Look out, folks, she’s off. Experience tells me to get comfy and look like you’re paying attention – Ed] Foals had a song called Sunday, and I thought I would choose that, so you’d have to post it (much to your disgust)…”

Foals – Sunday

Allow me to explain that “much to your disgust” comment: I’m not a Foals fan. I don’t dislike them either, to be honest. I just find them a bit “meh”. I don’t understand why anyone would want to pay money to go and see them, unless they need to pick up a new Yasser Arafat-type scarf from the merchandise stall, that is.

Anyway, carry on.

“…but then thought neither a Monday or a Sunday is a beautiful day. So I’m going for…”

The Cure – Friday I’m In Love

“…as Fridays are really quite beautiful.”

I’m not sure if this has any bearing, but before we all had to work from home, Friday would be the day when someone was most likely to bring cakes into the office.

In the spirit of full disclosure, Kay’s email to me with her suggestions began like this:

“Here’s my suggestion…(it’s a bit basic, so doubt I’ll win the Showboating prize)…I have an alternative (that could be a Worst Record of the Week Award contender)…”

You know me, dear reader. I was intrigued and pressed Kay as to what that might be.

This:

Whigfield – Saturday Night

No, I don’t understand that record sleeve either.

I’m not going to give you the satisfaction of being the recipient of the Worst Record of the Week Award.

Now get back to work, all those complaints about me aren’t going to answer themselves, you know.

Over to Martin from New Amusements next:

“There’s already been mention of Kirsty’s sublime cover but what of The Kinks’ original version of Days?”

I wouldn’t normally do this kind of thing, but oh, go on then:

The Kinks – Days

Martin will be back shortly, but in the meantime previously thought Missing in Action Chain Ganger George is back! Back! BACK!:

“From the song Beautiful Day to Darren Van Day of Dollar (don’t worry, it’ll get better)…. “

Too late! You’ve mentioned them now!

Dollar – Hand Held in Black and White

Sorry. As you were.

“…to Working For The Yankee Dollar (Skids)”

Skids – Working For The Yankee Dollar

Well, he says, blowing some dust off the box marked “Catchphrases”, if you’re having having that, then I’m having this:

The Men They Couldn’t Hang – Greenback Dollar

“Also,” Martin pipes up again, “a beautiful day might even qualify as a Perfect Day, by Lou Reed?”

Don’t mind if I do:

Lou Reed – Perfect Day

Time for a clip, and I imagine most of you will know that popular comic creations Lou & Andy from Little Britain…:

…are based on Lou Reed and Andy Warhol as played by David Walliams and Matt Lucas in an old Rock Profile sketch, reprised here on The Ralf Little Show (no, me neither):

Anyhoo. Kirsty MacColl also covered Perfect Day, with the Lemonheads’ Evan Dando, of course. But I’d be overdoing it if I posted that too, so we’ll save that for another…erm…day.

Instead, here’s Kirsty doing something which just begs to be played right after that:

Kirsty MacColl – The End Of A Perfect Day

And since we’re on the subject of perfect days, I was mightily suprised nobody came up with this:

PJ Harvey – A Perfect Day Elise

That’s all the ‘Day’ suggestions, and before we move let’s move on to the “Beautiful” links, a suggestion which covers both, and I’ll hand you over to The Robster from on/off/on-again/no-he’s-definitely-gone-this-time Is This The Life?

“Beautiful Day was used by ITV for their ill-fated coverage of The Premiership back in, erm, I don’t remember. Quite a few years ago. The song I always associate with football on TV is Life Of Riley by the Lightning Seeds which Match Of The Day used for its Goal Of The Month feature.”

The Lightning Seeds – The Life Of Riley

Ill-fated it certainly was, for two reasons: firstly, given an alternative, I don’t know anyone who would elect to watch football on ITV, and secondly, tactical analysis was provided by former professional footballer Andy Townsend, not from the comfort of a warm studio, but from what was know as The Tactics Truck, for no other reason, it seemed, than alliteration.

Whilst we’re on the subject of football, here’s PhonicPat with a couple of suggestions which I’ll allow, even though they link to The Robster’s suggestion more than to the source record:

“Late to the party this time around and some of my thoughts already reflected in the comments [but I haven’t got to them yet in this post, in case you were wondering – Ed]…More footy with…”:

“…and one more football song:”

Sorry, Pat. I can’t say I enjoyed that one. Worst Record of the Week, in my book.

Now we’ll move on to just plain Beautiful, words often used to describe Swiss Adam from Bagging Area, I’m sure:

“There are lots of songs that link to beautiful – Peaking Lights’ Beautiful Dub has the double pleasure of the word in its title and being beautiful to listen to.”

He’s not wrong:

Peaking Lights – Beautiful Dub

In fact, he’s not wrong on both fronts: there are loads of songs which link to “Beautiful”. Like this, for example (a bit of a gear change here):

Marilyn Manson – The Beautiful People

And then there’s this:

Suede – Beautiful Ones

And:

Not forgetting:

Neil Diamond – Beautiful Noise

Somebody stop me!

Ok, to break me out of this run, since we’ve now learned that a Beautiful Noise makes Mr Diamond feel good, just like a hand in a glove, I have to post this, don’t I….?

The Smiths – Hand In Glove (7” Version)

Anyone else care to add to the list?

“So many ‘beautiful’ songs,” PhonicPat thankfully chips in, “but eels’ Beautiful Freak could almost have been sung about Bono and the band.

eels – Beautiful Freak

I’m not sure if that’s meant to be a compliment or not. If it is, then frankly that’s not what we expect when asked to comment about U2 round here. Please allow Swiss Adam to show you how it’s done:

“U2 are bad. Really bad. Negativland nailed them and their egos with The U2 Song, daring them to sue. Which they did.”

Effin’ and jeffin’ alert:

Negativland – I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For (Special Edit Radio Mix)

There’s a little snatch (and no, I don’t mean Bono) of the melody of that, such as it is, which reminds me of Una Paloma Blanca by Jonathan King, but since I’ve banned Morrissey’s solo records from the blog because of his extremist views, I guess I should extend that to convicted paedophiles too. So instead, here’s the George Baker Selection with the titularly-truncated (presumably Ms Stubbs complained) Paloma Blanca:

George Baker Selection – Paloma Blanca

Bet you thought I was going to follow that up with a certain spoof version by The Wurzels, right?

Of course not. How dare you.

No, I’m going to follow that up with a cover of a certain spoof version by The Wurzels:

Going back to expressing one’s…erm…admiration for U2, perhaps one could take a leaf out Stevie from Charity Chic Music who does it in a much more subtle way:

“A mention of U2 leads to You’ve Already Put Big Old Tears in my Eyes (Must You Throw Dirt in my Face) by the Louvin Brothers”

Louvin Brothers – Must You Throw Dirt In My Face

Personally, whenever I hear the name U2, I want to rebel against it, and listen to the complete opposite. So, like a typically confusing clue on 70s game show 3-2-1

…here we go: The clue mentions the complete opposite and the the opposite of U could be Me or it could be We; the opposite of the opposite of 2 is the number immediately adjacent to it, so it could be 1 or it could be 3; if you want to rebel against something then you want to bring about change, and perhaps the most famous rebels were the French Resistance…so the next suggestion is of course:

I mean, really I should be awarding myself some points for Showboat of the Week. Not that I can be bothered awarding points anymore. Nobody really cares about them, do they?

Here’s Martin again with another song which sort of links to the band’s name:

“Finally I want to mention ‘U Talk 2 Much’ by Sultans of Ping FC, not least for its U2-referencing sleeve art”:

Which takes me back to PhonicPat, and an alternative Sultans of Ping FC tune, suggested “…for the footy link”:

Do you remember when U2 graciously and modestly decided that everyone with iTunes should be blessed with a free copy of their 2014 Songs of Innocence album, whether they wanted it or not? Well, that leads me here:

Janelle Monáe – Dirty Computer (feat. Brian Wilson)

Time to go off on some (non-football) tangents, I think, and so here’s Alyson from What’s It All About?:

“U-2 is a kind of plane and another plane become the inspiration for a song by OMD, so I’m going for Enola Gay, which very scarily was a big hit for them in 1980, 40 years ago now. The awful event addressed in the song, the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, happened only 35 years prior to that. Is it just me or is time running away with us as we get older?”

Keep it light, Aly, for Gawd’s sake:

Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark – Enola Gay

Well, if we’re side stepping to planes, then – surprise, surprise – I have a couple.

Predictably, this lot:

Status Quo – Paper Plane

And, perhaps less predictably, this:

M.I.A. – Paper Planes

On the same theme, some suggestions from a couple of first-timers (I think – apologies if you’ve contributed before and I’ve forgotten); firstly, give a big Chain Gang welcome to Devonian:

“U2 is a plane named after a letter and a number. B-52 is also a plane named after a letter and a number. Something by The B-52s, then… let’s say…”

The B-52’s – Mesopotamia

And follow that up with an equally warm hand on his entrance for Stevo Kifaru, who, for a first-time Chain Ganger has certainly got the hang of naming a load of records knowing full-well I won’t be able to resist posting them all:

“U2 were named after an American spy plane, the Lockheed U-2, so I’m going with the theme of Spies for a second. My initial thought was…:”

Was (Not Was) – Spy In The House Of Love

“…but then I thought…”

The Untouchables – I Spy (For The F.B.I.)

“…to be a cooler track.”

Hmm. Not sure about that, because of this:

Anyway, if we’re side-stepping into the world of spies and espionage, then we’ll have a bit of this, I think:

Super Furry Animals – She’s Got Spies

And this, too:

Pulp – I Spy

He’s not done there, though, is our Stevo:

“But as I’m typing this I think ‘The House of Love’ ooh Christine is such a sublime single, I mean those guitars…”:

The House of Love – Christine

Pop the handbrake on for a moment and hide the jacket potatoes, I have (yes, yet another) suggestion:

….which I’m sure you’ll agree is the very best of the mixes, right Chums?

It turns out Stevo is quite the Chatty Cathy (a bit rich, coming from me, granted), for he continues:

“I also thought U2 reminded me of the nomenclature of German submarines, always beginning with a U, & that brought me to Das Boot. Many years ago my friend randomly asked me, what was the number of the sub in Das Boot? I thought for a second & said U96. I have felt like such a nerd since that day, my friend obviously grateful that I answered his question, but the look he gave me was one of shock at my depths of geekness….In reality I just remembered the techno remix of the theme tune that was released under the name of U96….”:

U96 – Das Boot

So, having dealt with all things U2-related (was that what we were doing? I’ve lost track…), what about the individual band members?

And by band members, I mean your Bono fide ones, not charlatans like this chap:

Back to you, Robster:

“I’m also going to throw a Half Man Half Biscuit song into the mix, just because it’s Half Man Half Biscuit. Something from their ‘Achtung Bono’ album. How about…:”

Half Man Half Biscuit – For What Is Chatteris

In the interest of balance, perhaps I should point out that Bono at least seems to be vaguely self-aware and have a sense of humour about how many people view him, even if that sense of humour has been written by somebody else:

Right, who’s left?

Rigid Digit from Stuff & Nonsense, that’s who:

“U2 to Stiff Little Fingers to Grandmaster Flash and back to U2 in 3 moves:

There is a story that Adam Clayton says the bass line for U2’s ‘With Or Without You’ is basically Stiff Little Fingers’ ‘Alternative Ulster’ slowed down.”

Now. I know you haven’t suggested it, and I wouldn’t ordinarily post a second song by the source artist (especially when it’s U-Sodding-2), but I don’t think I can let that slide without investigating. So here’s both of those records, to allow us to compare and contrast:

U2 – With or Without You

Hmm. I suppose he may have a point. But it’s not exactly the most complicated bass-line in the world is it?

“SLFs 1997 album Tinderbox,” Rigid gamely continues, undeterred, “contains a cover version of ‘The Message’, which includes the lyric: “Don’t push me cos I’m close to the Edge”

So, here’s both the cover and the original. I do like a bit of SLF, but I know which of these I prefer:

Sounds a bit Walk This Way, only not as good to me, no? Imagine the Run DMC boys hadn’t turned up at the studio and so Aerosmith recorded their part too.

Where were we? Ah yes: Grandmaster Flash:

Much better.

Of course, any mention of The Edge being close to the edge means that I’m contractually obliged to share this clip:

Last ones before we find out what the next record in The actual Chain is, and I’ll hand over to The Great Gog to bring things to a thrilling climax as only he can:

“The phrase ‘close to the edge’ has already been mentioned. Of course Bono and the other two are close to The Edge when they play live. Close To The Edge was also an album recorded by Yes in 1972. Later versions of this album include a cover of the Paul Simon-penned America, also recorded in the same year.”

Now, I’m no Yes man, so I checked what Wiki has to say about this, and GG is quite correct:

In 1987, ‘Close to the Edge’ was reissued by Atlantic Records on CD in the United States and Europe. Another issue of the album was digitally remastered by Joe Gastwirt in 1994. In 2003, the album was reissued again on disc in an expanded and remastered edition by Rhino and Elektra Records. Included were two previously unreleased tracks: an alternate version of ‘And You and I’, an early run-through of ‘Siberian Khatru’, and Yes’s 1972 single ‘America’ with its b-side, an edit of ‘Total Mass Retain‘.”

Never in doubt:

It’s not so much a cover version as a lot of proggy noodling with the Simon & Garfunkel lyrics chucked in after a while.

I should be careful how I phrase that, really; for to describe them as ‘Simon & Garfunkel lyrics’ does rather give the impression that Art had some involvement in the song-writing process, a goof that Annie Nightingale made when she interviewed Paul Simon for The Old Grey Whistle Test many years ago:

“1972 saw Simon record the song ‘Mother & Child Reunion’,” GG continues. “He performed this song on stage (and presumably close to The Edge) with U2 at Madison Square Garden in 2015. The performance is on YouTube but the quality isn’t great and there’s a load of waffle from Bono at the start of it.”

Which seems a good enough reason to just post the Paul Simon version:

And all that leaves me to do is….oh wait. Rigid Digit is back:

“Forgot to include the story of my U2 branded SatNav. It’s terrible – the streets have no names, and I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.

And I think my U2 fridge is on the way out – all it does is Rattle and Hum.”

Thanks Rigid, I trust you’ll be here all week?

Anyway, as I was saying (he says, locking the door behind him to be on the safe side), all that leaves me to do is to give you the next song in The Chain, along with the way the person suggesting it got there. And don’t worry, it’s a waaaaaaaay better record this time:

The link: As PhonicPat said right at the top, Beautiful Day appeared on the band’s All That You Can’t Leave Behind album. What Pat didn’t say was that said album was produced by Brian Eno (and Daniel Lanois); and the album that this is taken from (Fear of Music) was also produced by Brian Eno (without Daniel Lanois):

So, your suggestions, please, for songs which link to Cities by Talking Heads, along with a brief description of the link, via the Comments Section down below or via email to dubioustaste26@gmail.com in time for whenever The Chain circus next rolls into town, in a month or so’s time (probably).

More soon.

Back With a Rant

….And we’re back in the room.

Sorry it’s been a bit quiet around here for the past couple of weeks. Nothing is wrong, as such, just…*gestures hopelessly at everything*…y’know….stuff.

When I was younger, my dear Mama taught me that if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all. (Other pearls of wisdom: “Your face will stay like that if the wind changes”, “I can see you, you know” and “Keep doing that and you’ll go blind.” Mind you, when teaching me about road safety, my parents also once told me that one of my aunt’s had their head chopped off when they got run over by a cyclist. I remember challenging them on this: “But she’s got a head now?”, which elicted the response that “it had grown back but took a very long time”. It’s probably a good job I never challenged the “you’ll go blind” one, or Lord knows what I’d have been told.)

But I digress.

What I’m trying to say is that I try to be positive, especially here, but for the past couple of weeks I’ve found that an increasingly difficult façade to project. I didn’t want to come on here and just whinge and moan about how tough things are when pretty much everyone is feeling it; I wanted to be upbeat, overwhelmed by some notion that I was a guiding light to all who visit here. And if I couldn’t do that, I’d rather say nothing at all, to misquote Ronan Keating.

I’ve sat at my laptop several times over the last two weeks, determined to write something, anything, just to dislodge the blockage, but on each occasion I closed my laptop again, article half-written, no faith in what had splurged out, and returned to scrolling through Netflix or NowTV in the hope of finding something to cleanse the soul.

And then it occured to me: at the moment, in these days of Covid-19 “lockdown”, this is my only outlet for venting. I’m still working from home, so the opportunity for a rant at the metaphorical water-cooler isn’t there; I can’t visit friends, who all live down in South London, as far away from me here in North London as possible (I’m really bad at taking hints); my parents have had enough on their plate without having to listen to me banging on about how frustrated I feel with the world right now; and God forbid you express an opinion on a social media platform like Twitter for fear of it being taken wildly out of context and misquoted as unequivocal evidence that you’re a racist transphobic mysoginistic homophobe. None of which I am, I hasten to add.

Which just leaves here.

So apologies to those of you who roll their eyes when I have one of my episodic rants, but I need to get a few things off my chest.

Here goes.

You’d think from what I have just said that I’d be delighted that “lockdown” restrictions are gradually being lifted. And you’d be wrong.

Before I go any further, I fully accept that these are unprecedented times, and that managing the country in such times is an incredibly difficult thing to have to do. And that the balancing act of the economy versus public safety is tricky, to say the least.

What would be nice right now would be to have a leader who was actually just that: a leader, rather than one who is just playing at being one and who looks increasingly out of his depth with every Wednesday PMQ’s.

So you won’t be surprised to learn that I also think the Government has got pretty much every important decision wrong from Day One.

This shouldn’t have been that complicated; I don’t know if you’ve noticed – although I think it’s a fairly safe bet that Dominic Raab hasn’t quite grasped it yet – but the United Kingdom is an island (or one big island, a slightly smaller island, and lots of teeny tiny ones, if you’re going to be pedantic) and so restricting the movement of potential virus carriers from coming into and going out of the country should be fairly straight-forwards.

Freedom of movement, that’s basically what Brexit was about, right? Stopping them pesky forreners from coming over here? Well here you go, here’s your chance to close the ports and airports, a dry run for when the Brexit transition period ends. Fill your boots.

But just as we failed to implement rules which were in place when we were in the EU (and then blamed the EU for that), so we failed to do anything. It’s only now, what, eleven, twelve? weeks in, that anyone entering the country who is displaying symptoms of the Covid virus must self-isolate for 14 days. Stable door, horse, bolted.

A couple of weeks ago, it was announced that if your job was one where you cannot work from home, then you must return to work, as long as you observed the social distancing rules at all times. Cue those in low-paid jobs – cleaners, retail workers – crammed onto public transport, where social distancing is simply not possible.

It’s hardly surprising that people in those kinds of jobs, who are more likely to come from BAME communties, have been found to be most susceptible to contracting the virus. Yes, because we’ve thrust them out into a potentially hostile environment to see how safe it is before us whities emerge. They are our canaries in a coalmine.

Let’s also not forget that at the start of the lockdown, we were told that wearing facemasks was a good idea, but might not have any real effect. And now, a couple of weeks after the poorly paid have been crowbarred onto buses, are we told that wearing a facemask when travelling on public transport is mandatory. Why wasn’t that in place when certain sections of our communites were told it was safe to return to work?

And this creates a ridiculous situation where some schools have reopened and teachers are told that they have to wear face masks should they travel to work on public transport, but not when they’re actually at work, as if a school is protected by some sort of force field which viruses bounce off of.

Plus, how disconcerting must it be for the children who have returned to school? It’s been sold to them as if they are returning to normal school life, when the reality is that there are whole load of new rules to observe. To them, right now, it must be unbearable, thinking that life will never get back to normal. I’m not sure we’ll ever know what psychological damage has been done to some of them.

See, much as I wish they were gone altogether, I don’t think restrictions should be getting lifted. Not yet. Not until we have a day, or preferably several days, when there are no new cases of people either contracting or dieing from the Covid virus. Which I fully accept is a very draconian position to take, but saving lives must take precedence here, surely?

The austerity measures we’ve all had to endure for the past ten years, the cutting back of social services, have been shown to be a lie. Remember when those on the right mockingly goaded that “there’s no magic money tree”? Well, we suddenly seem to have found it, not just to promote the notion of a No Deal Brexit (soon to be returning) but also to fund the furloughing of employees to save their jobs.

I’m not saying this is a bad thing. I’m saying this isn’t quite what we’ve previously been told.

And much as the Government try to claim that herd immunity – the idea that the virus should be allowed to spread throughout the country, until everyone has had it and (hopefully) can’t catch it again, and never mind that thousands may (and have) die – has never been the policy (and right at the start, it definitely was, I watched the press conference when they announced it), it seems pretty clear to me that’s exactly what’s going on now, albeit in a different name.

So brace yourself, for I fear there’s going to be a second wave, and all those lifted restrictions will slam back into place again.

Time for a tune:

Pixies- Wave of Mutilation

Part of the problem here is the constant moving of goalposts, the flim-flam of governmental advice – and again, I totally get that as circumstances change, so does the advice.

The thing is, since “lockdown”, for the most part, the advice was quite consistent: Stay Home, Protect the NHS, Save Lives.

To extrapolate: remain indoors, only venture outside to buy food or medicines. This will lighten the load on the (criminally underfunded and underprepared) NHS, and by extension, save (some) lives.

Which of course leads me on to Dominic Cummings.

We all know what happened by now, but to recap: on 27th March, Cummings and his family drove from his London home to his parents’ property in Durham, at a time when the public were being told to stay at home to stop the spread of the coronavirus. As it all unravelled, it also became clear that Cummings had driven to Barnard Castle, a thirty-minute each way trip, to check that his eyesight was good enough to allow him to drive back to London. Witnesses, however, described seeing him and his family enjoying a picnic at the half-way point of this hour long round journey.

As calls for Cummings to be removed grew louder, Boris defended his plotter-in-chief’s action, refusing to sack him, and instead claiming that he had “acted on instinct” and that that was fine.

This was a massive slap in the face to all of us who had observed the very rules which Cummings had been part of devising. Regular readers will know that on April 19th, just days before his 80th birthday, my Dad had a fall which resulted in a five-week stay in hospital. Because of the lockdown rules, I could not visit him, nor could I visit my Mum, who – and I don’t think she’ll mind me saying this – alone for a sustained period of time for the first time in their many years of marriage, was perpetually worried and at a loose end throughout. We all felt helpless, impotent, useless. I took a few days off work, because whilst sometimes it’s good to have something to take your mind off whatever is going on in your life, I simply could not focus and I worried that I might be making expensive mistakes.

I can, but don’t, drive, so to visit my Mum would have involved me getting a train; I knew that at all London stations, police were out (not socially distancing or wearing PPE, I should add) challenging people as to the worthiness of their journey. I know damned well that had I rocked up at London St Pancras and told the enquiring officer that I was acting on my instinct I would have been sent back home pretty sharpish.

But it’s okay for Cummings, because he’s the puppeteer pulling Boris’ strings.

It was with much amusement and indignation that I read an entry from Brewer’s slang dictionary which said “Barney Castle” was existing slang for a “pathetic excuse” deriving from a 16th century general’s refusal to leave his fortified position there to engage in battle. I have no idea if that’s true or not – I suspect not, it’s just too delicious. But still, in these days of Fake News, worth repeating.

So here’s one for you and your ridiculous excuse of driving to check your eyesight, Cummings you absolute cretin:

Ride – Drive Blind

And so to the other main event from the last two weeks: the Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests in America, here in the UK, and all across the world.

Anyone who has seen the footage of the death of George Floyd at the hands of a police officer cannot help but have been horrified. I would only recommend that you seek it out if you have a strong stomach and really, really need verification.

There’s a tendency with such things to say “Well, they must have been doing something….”, but I have watched a lot of footage of peaceful protests where the police response has been alarmingly disproportionate. If I linked to every one, this page would never load for you to read.

Here’s some lowlights. Firstly, a car, containing a pregnant woman and in no way involved in the protests, has pepper spray fired at it by US Police:

Here’s your friendly Minneapolis police firing tear gas at journalists:

And here’s some footage of Minneapolis police slashing the tyres of parked cars, irrespective of whether the owners are or are not, involved in the protests:

Meanwhile in Houston, a protestor is nonchalantly trampled by a police horse:

Many years ago, I was in a protest in London where the horse-mounted police were sent in to disperse the crowd. It was – and excuse my language, for I have managed to get this far without the need for expletives – fucking terrifying. I’ll save this story for another day, because this is not about me.

Let’s not forget how we got here: by peaceful protestors being dispersed so that Trump could dog-whistle to his Bible-belt redneck supporters, by awkwardly holding up a book he has never read at a photo-opportunity:

And how do I know he’s never read it? Because of this:

This should have been sorted out years ago. In the 1990s, there were riots after the beating that Rodney King took at the hands of the LAPD, and it was promised that things would change. But they didn’t.

If you only watch one of the clips I’ve posted here, make it this one:

There’s only one song to play when faced with such horrors:

Deep Purple – Black Night

Okay, there’s more than one song. This is perhaps a more expected one. It came out in 1971, when there was genuine hope that the civil rights movement might have some long-lasting effect. And yet here we are, almost fifty years later, fighting the same fight:

Marvin Gaye – What’s Going On

I’m not quite finished yet.

And so to the protests on this side of the pond. In spirit, I’m with the protestors, of course. Systemic authoritarian racism is not limited to America, much as we might want to kid ourselves that it is.

But I have concerns.

Firstly, that if there is a second wave of the virus, that the Government will be able to point to the UK BLM protests as the cause, rather than any failing on their part.

Secondly, that solicitors Berryman Lace & Mawer (BLM) are going to be getting way too much business come their way.

And thirdly, that, as seems to be happening already, the dialogue is shifted away from matters of such great social importance as racial inequality, to a discussion about which statues are good and which are not.

I lived in Cardiff for many years, and visited Bristol many times, often going to see gigs at a venue called Colston Hall. I had no idea who Colston was, and even less of an idea that there was a statue erected to his memory and his legacy somewhere in the city.

For the uninitiated, we’re talking about Edward Colston, who amassed a personal fortune and subsequent notoriety on the back of his involvement in slave trading.

Had I known that, would that have been enough to stop me going to gigs at a venue named after him? Probably not, if I’m honest.

But when you have an historical figure held up as someone to be respected, by way of statues or public buildings or whatever, there has to come a time when their actions are scrutinised. The question has to be asked: does this person, with whom our city is so closely linked, continue to characterise and epitomise how we feel now?

Last weekend, protestors in Bristol gave a resounding thumbs down to this question, pushing over the statue of Colston and dumping it in the river.

Do I agree with it being removed? Absolutely. Do I agree with it being tossed into the Avon? Absolutely not.

What should have happened is that the statue was removed from public display and placed in a museum, where their fame, wealth and actions can be viewed and explained in a correct social context.

A statue says: We, as a city, respect and agree with this person’s actions. A museum place says: this person did a lot for this city, which is appreciated, but it’s complicated and here’s why:….

It’s all about the context.

Which is why I don’t have an easy answer to the question of Winston Churchill and the many statues erected in his honour. This is much more complicated: he is undoubtedly, and rightly, considered a hero of our wartime efforts. But at the same time, he held a lot of views which in the current climate would be considered racist. Because they were. Does one cancel out the other? Does his WW2 leadership mean that we should ignore the unpleasant stuff?

I have no answers on this point.

I do have a song though, which shouldn’t be taken too literally:

Redskins – Kick Over The Statues!

What I do have is a worry that the statues shenanigans will overshadow the BLM movement on this side of the pond.

It’s not about statues. It’s about equality.

More soon.

50 Ways To Prove I’m Rubbish #30

If you had asked me, twenty five years ago, who Florian Schneider was, I would have shrugged and told you I had no idea.

If you then went on to tell me that you were from the future (bear with me) and that the fifty year old me was really quite saddened to hear that he had died, I would probably have called the (time) police.

But such is life and death; for this week I was indeed saddened to hear of the passing of somebody who can truly be described as a musical innovator.

For Florian was a founder member of Kraftwerk, the German minimalist electro band. Moreover, he’s the one from the band that you recognise.

Describing Kraftwerk as a band doesn’t seem right somehow.

Pioneers. That’s better. For that’s what they were.

There are few artistes that you can confidently say changed the way music is produced, listened to and appreciated, but Kraftwerk unquestionably fall into that bracket.

I first encountered them, as I imagine so many others did, when this single went to #1 in the UK charts back in 1982:

Kraftwerk – The Model

At the time, I remember being baffled that this weird sounding thing had knocked Shaky’s Oh Julie off the number one spot. Back in the days when singles didn’t just go straight in at #1, it lumbered its’ way up the charts in a fashion that just doesn’t happen now (I guess: I can’t remember when I last checked in on The Charts, but that seemed to be how it was happening last time I looked). It spent just one week at the peak, replaced by The Jam’s Town Called Malice.

The even weirder thing about The Model was that the week before it hit the top slot, it had gone down from #2 to #3. This sort of resurrection simply never happened; once a record had hit its peak, that was it, done and dusted. Off down the charts you pop. (It was kept off #1 the first time around by Bucks Fizz’s The Land of Make Believe.)

But something about this Germanic foursome’s record buying public refused to give in.

I’m not sure when things finally clicked and I ‘got’ Kraftwerk. I guess it was sometime in the 1990s, or possibly even the early 2000s. I suspect it may have been when I finally got my hands on a copy of the NME 40th anniversary album Ruby Trax – where contemporary acts of the day were invited to record a cover version of a song which had been a #1 single – heard Ride cover The Model, and thought a) That sounds nothing like Ride; b) that’s really great but is it really that different from the original? and c) What have I been missing all these years?

Ride – The Model

I do know that I was desperate to see them on their 2005 Minimum/Maximum tour, but didn’t manage to get there for some reason or other. Probably financial, as I would think tickets for a Kraftwerk gig were prohibitavely, and justifiably, expensive.

So here, to mark Florian’s passing is footage from that tour. Clear some me-time in your diary and watch this, two hours of minimalistic magic (m)electronica:

More soon.

Sounding Off on Saturday

So, how are we all doing out there in lockdown land? Climbing up the walls yet? Or just bumbling along fine thanks very much for asking?

I think I fall into the latter category; the more astute of you may have noticed that as well as working from home all week, I’ve managed a post a day for a whole week for the first time in ages. This should not be misconstrued as me having more time on my hands – other than the daily commute to work and back, my life is very much as it was before. I just figured I’d do what most people who have some sort of public access thing going on seems to be doing: give those that are interested something to read and listen to as often as possible.

And at least I haven’t recorded myself singing Imagine yet.

You’re welcome.

Anyway, I thought what I would do with these Saturday morning posts is have a little ramble through what has happened to me in the previous week, what I had watched, seen, heard, smelt (maybe I’ll leave that one), learned, all illustrated with my trademark sort-of-appropriate song.

So, the first thing to say is that whilst I have been bumbling along for most of the week, I did have a bit of a scare on Saturday night/Sunday morning.

When I decided to self-isolate a couple of weeks ago, it was because I had developed two of the three symptoms which at the time were associated with having the virus: a dry cough and a temperature. But I’d never had the third, shortness of breath.

But that changed last weekend. On Saturday night, I went to bed, but found myself unable to settle. I’ll be honest, a man of my age is rarely able to settle in bed, the hourly mantra being: “Oh Jesus I need to pee again…how can I possibly need to pee again, I haven’t drunk anything since last time…!!”. But this time it was different. This time it was because I couldn’t breathe properly.

I spent hours huffing from bed to sofa and back again, unable to breathe or find anything good to watch on TV at that time of day to take my mind off things.

At one point, I decided that perhaps there wasn’t enough airflow through my flat – all of my windows have been closed since I self-isolated – so at around 6am on Sunday morning I opened the big window behind the sofa and lay down, hoping this would help. But it didn’t.

Try as I did to ignore it, or to convince myself that I was fine and my breathing was getting better, it wouldn’t go away. And so, I finally decided, there was nothing else for it, but to go to A&E.

I packed an overnight bag, cramming a few books, a toothbrush and toothpaste, some lounge pants (NOT pyjama bottoms, thank you very much) and, crucially, my phone charger (I’ve learned my lesson).

And then I did something sensible: I checked the NHS website for advice.

And this is what I found: shortness of breath was no longer considered to be on one the signafying factors (loss of taste and smell had over taken it), and that even if it was, the advice was to stay at home.

Incoming appropriate tune (1):

Ride – Taste

Bizarrely, with that information, I was able to relax and breathe again, go back to bed, sleep. I guess it must have been a panic attack, which I can only attribute to the clocks going forwards and me losing an hour in bed.

Incoming appropriate tune (2):

Air Supply – Even The Nights Are Better

Actually, not appropriate at all. Air Supply are fucking liars. The Night was worse than the day!

What else have I learned this week?

Regular readers will know that I used to write a series about how the use of records I love in adverts annoyed me, but I think now I can expand this to the following phrase: adverts generally annoy me.

This will come as no surprise to anyone who has ever lived with me, for they will doubtless remember me becoming apopleptic at the sight of certain ads. But I thought I’d matured and things bothered me less these days.

But no.

Here’s the two adverts that are currently flicking my annoyance banjo-string:

It IS milk. You even say so at the end of the advert. “It’s fresh milk, filtered for purity.” Well that’s milk then, isn’t it? Filter it as much as you like, it’s still milk.

Garbage – Milk

The other advert that annoys the tits off me is this one, which tells us that ‘dogs have hands too”, a phrase that has me shouting “No they don’t!!” at the TV:

Interpol – Slow Hands

Look, I know that doesn’t work on it’s own. But you try and think of a song which encompasses dogs and hands. Go on. Can’t, can you?

But combine it with this:

Super Furry Animals – Golden Retriever

Job’s a good ‘un.

What else have I learned this week?

Well, I’ve learned that rich people didn’t get to be rich people by being nice people.

For the past week or so, we’ve been treated to a procession of exceedingly well off people bemoaning how poor they’re going to be as a result of the necessary shutdown. And more importantly, trying to claim money from the government (and by this, I mean you and me).

It’s hard to know where to start with this lot, so I’ll crack off with Chief Executive of Sports Direct, Mike Ashley. When the instruction that shops had to shut came, with only those providing essential services staying open, Ashley tried to claim that the selling of plimsolls was essential so that people could stay fit and active. Never mind that most of his employees are on zero-contract hours and are too afraid to go to the toilet.

Popular backlash and Government intervention saw Ashley soon back down and close his stores.

Mike Ashley is currently estimated to be worth just shy of £5 BILLION.

And then there’s Richard Branson, who, now he’s not suing the NHS, has decided that his airline needs a Government bail-out.

Richard Branson is currently estimated to be worth just shy of £3.8 BILLION.

And then there’s Tim Martin, the Chairman of the Wetherspoons chainof pubs. He decided he’d release this video to show what a caring boss he is:

Yup. Go get a job at Tesco’s because I’m not going to pay you is his message.

JUST PAY THEM YOU GREEDY SHITS.

When this is all done, and we can go out again, remember these people. Let’s never again darken the doorstep of a Wetherspoons, or a Sports Direct shop, or anything Branson touches.

And then the news I had expected, but had hoped I’d never read. Daniel Levy, Chairman of my beloved Tottenham Hotspur, who was paid £4 million plus £3million in bonuses in the 2018-19 season, announced that the club would be reducing the wages of their 550 non-football staff by 20%, in some cases by placing them on furlough. (It should be noted they were not alone in this move: Newcastle United -owned by one Mike Ashley – had done the same.)

“We may be the eighth largest club in the world by revenue according to the Deloitte survey,” said Levy, “but all that historical data is totally irrelevant as this virus has no boundaries.”

No boundaries that you’ll allow to come anywhere near you wallet.

Can I make a suggestion for when we run out of food?

Motörhead – Eat The Rich

That’ll do you. (And I haven’t even mentioned how inept our Government has been in dealing with all of this – but you know that already, right?)

More soon.

The Chain #39

Scene: an empty warehouse, in darkness.

FX: A door creaks opens, a switch clicks.

The lights flicker into life.

Delivery Man 1 [poking his head through the door]: Yes, this looks like it.

Delivery Man 1 backs into view, clipboard under arm, guiding a large object covered in a sheet, which is being pushed by Delivery Man 2 with considerably more effort than Delivery Man 1 is expending.

FX: The door slams shut.

Delivery Man 2: Whereabouts does it need to go? What does the order say?

Delivery Man 1 consults the clipboard.

Delivery Man 1: It says “Leave in the middle of the floor, covered, as if it’s been here for ages.”

Delivery Man 2 [with a shrug]: Bit weird, but if that’s what it says.

Job done, they exit, leaving the light on.

FX: the door opens and closes. Pause. Repeat.

An incredibly handsome, if fat and bald, man enters the room. He surveys the object before removing the sheet.

Incredibly handsome, if fat and bald, man: And we’re back in the room!

Hello, and welcome to The Chain. Where’ve you been? I’ve been waiting for you.

Prompted by a question about whether one of this week’s suggestions qualified under the rules, and nothing whatsoever to do with the amount of time since one of these posts appeared, nosireebob, I thought it might be best if I go over them again here, with a brief explanation of what we do here.

So, The Chain is a feature on BBC 6Music’s Radcliffe and Maconie show (and prior to that, their show on BBC Radio 2), where a record is played and they invite suggestions as to what record could be played next, which must link in some way to the one just played.

The difference here is that whilst they choose just one record to play, we try to post all of the suggestions which you submit.

The only rules are:

  1. No suggested record can feature twice (unless it has only featured as part of The Official Chain). If you’re not sure – ask!
  2. The only exception to this rule is “Back on the Chain Gang” by The Pretenders, which has been adopted as our theme tune
  3. When making your suggestion, you must provide an explanation of the link between the two songs
  4. You must already own a copy of it, and be willing to provide it (in case I don’t already own it or am unable to source it)
  5. Suggestions must be more than just naming a different song by the same artist.
  6. You can make as many suggestions as you like, but please, go easy on me, won’t you?

That’s about it. I award points every now and again, for Worst Record of the Week, Cheesiest Record of the Week, Comment Showboat of the Week, and of course, for anyone who happens to guess either the song or act (or both) that is the next record in the Official Chain, which becomes the source record for the following week. Nobody’s keeping score (well, I’m not anyway), the points are just a bit of fun.

Okay, that’s the admin done. Last time out, the source record was “The Universal” by Blur; personally, I found this a really tricky one to link to, especially as I have to wait and see what’s left after you guys have nominated all the good ones. Ho hum, such is life.

So, here we go then, and as usual, we’ll bracket them into several fairly broad categories and, as usual, we’ll probably wander off on a couple of tangents along the way.

First out of the traps last time was Charity Chic from Charity Chic Music who wrote:

“It has to be something off ‘Universal Audio’, the final album by The Delgados. I Fought the Angels would do rather nicely I feel”

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The Delgados – I Fought The Angels

Of course, CC was not alone in suggesting a link to something of Universal appeal; Dirk from sexyloser proffered thusly:

“…because not enough good German music is being featured on these pages, I’d like to  link to Die Sterne – ‘Universal Tellerwäscher’ from 1994 …. which in fact is a mighty record indeed!”

I was going to make a rather unkind joke about the phrase “good German music” being an oxymoron, but then I listened to Dirk’s suggestion and have to agree, it is mighty fine (even if I have not one clue as to what it’s about, although Google Translate, which is never wrong, obviously, tells me that a Tellerwäscher is a dishwasher ):

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Die Sterne – Universal Tellerwäscher

Sticking with the Universal theme, SWC from When You Can’t Remember Anything suggested this:

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Universal Being – Size of an Elephant

whilst The Great Gog wrote:

“…seeing as we’re all commenting on The Universal, Red Hot Chilli Peppers’ Universally Speaking would seem apt.”

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Red Hot Chili Peppers – Universally Speaking

And The Beard quoted a completely different song which contains the word “Universal”:

“Universal, unique untouched, unadulterated, the raw uncut”

He is, of course, referring to this:

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Blackalicious – Alphabet Aerobics

Time for the first interlude of the day; I stumbled along this clip the other day, which I’m sure you’ll agree contains some quite wizardly rapping:

Anyway, where were we?

Ah yes. Blur’s ‘The Universal’. Take it away Julian of Music from Magazines fame:

“Blur did a song “Beetlebum”
The Beatles did a song “Across The Universe”
Laibach did a version of “Across The Universe”
Laibach nailed “Sympathy For The Devil”

(The 7.52 version please)”

As you wish:

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Laibach – Sympathy For The Devil

Time for a big Chain welcome for the first of two new contributors to The Chain this week, here’s Telefrank:

“The video for ‘The Universal’ references the Korova Milk Bar, so something by Wendy Carlos natch.”

Just to join up the dots: the Korova Milk Bar features in ‘A Clockwork Orange’, so this seemed like as good a tune as any:

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Wendy Carlos – Title Music From ‘A Clockwork Orange’

Walter from A Few Good Times in My Life pointed out that “…the opposite of universe might be the underground. So…”

Going Undergound Front

The Jam – Going Underground

It’s scary how that song is so relevant now, 35 years after it came out. “Times have changed”, some people say. I’d play them that and respectfully disagree.

Anyway, before I start going off on one, more Universal shenanigans. Here’s Alex G from We Will Have Salad:

“A nice easy link from ‘Universal’ to another well-known film studio: Columbia.”

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Oasis – Columbia

Walter continues the theme: “Universal is also a music label distributing music of various and different artists. So I suggest:”

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Tom Petty – You Don’t Know How It Feels

From the Universal links, it’s one small step to the universe, and space in general, and to our second new member of The Chain Gang of the week, abramson60, the 60th from the very noble Abramson family, as Adam Buxton would say:

Anyway, abramson60 has certainly got the hang of how to make sure you get lots of tunes played here: list of a load of songs he’d considered before finally plumping for a completely different one. I, of course, cannot resist:

“Universe would automatically take me down the space road, so you could have….”

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 Liz Phair – Supernova

“…or another of my pet favorites…”

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Julian Cope – Spacehopper

“…not forgetting that he went on to become the nation’s favourite spaced out artist.”

But, “…sticking with universe, The Rocky Horror Picture Show had long lasting and profound influence on the somewhat naive 16 year old me who first saw the film at the tail end of the 70’s. So my pick is ‘I’m Going Home’, not quite sure where to but somewhere in the outer reaches of space.”  I’m not sure I quite follow the link there, but as it’s your first visit, I’ll let it slide this time:

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Dr. Frank N. Furter – I’m Going Home

Over to The Swede from Unthought of, though, somehow next, who says:

“I’ll keep things cosmic and suggest ‘Space is Deep’ by Hawkwind – the studio version from ‘Doremi Fasol Latido’ please.”

Very well.

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Hawkwind – Space Is Deep

A couple of you suggested links from lyrics withing ‘The Universal’, which is fair enough and fine by me. For example, Rigid Digit from Stuff & Nonsense suggested:

“‘The Universal’ includes the lines:
“And to karaoke songs,
We like to sing along,
Although the words are wrong”

So .. mondegreens (misheard lyrics) and possibly the most well known: ‘Scuse me while I kiss this guy'”

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The Jimi Hendrix Experience – Purple Haze

Next up, Martin from New Amusements, who takes the “list a load of songs then pick a completely different one as their choice” approach adopted by abramson60 and combines it with Rigid Digit’s focus on the song’s lyrics:

“The Universal includes a line about ‘satellites in every home’ so we could go with that, enabling…”

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The Hooters – Satellite

“…or…”

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Lou Reed – Satellite Of Love

“…or…”

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Tasmin Archer – Sleeping Satellite

“…or, I guess…”

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The Tornados – Telstar

If I could just butt in for a moment, I can’t hear that record without thinking of this record (and vice versa) since I can’t help but think that while it’s not a straight-out sample, the synth melody line, owes more than a little debto the old instrumental Martin suggests:

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Saint Etienne – You’re In A Bad Way

Martin’s actual choice will follow in a moment, but props where props are due, the category it falls into was first suggested by The Robster from Is This The Life? (well, actually, it was first mentioned by Rigid Digit last week time)

“My link comes in the form of British Gas adverts. The Universal was, as you point out, used in an ad campaign for British Gas. So was ‘More Than A Feeling’ by Boston, which despite ticking all the middle-of-the-road 70s AOR boxes, is a damn fine tune and one I always find myself playing air guitar to. True!”

It may well be, but unfortunately that’s featured in The Chain before, so, as per the rules above, I can’t allow it this week. Sorry!

Tell you what, have another go:

“Another gem from the British Gas archive is the wonderful ‘Rescue Me’ by Fontella Bass which cannot fail to give everyone a lift on a Monday morning.”

Much better.

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Fontella Bass – Rescue Me

Back to Martin again: “…let’s go down the route of the Blur track’s British Gas-based ubiquity, all the excuse we need to have ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash’ by The Rolling Stones, since that tells us ‘it’s a gas, gas, gas.'”

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The Rolling Stones –  Jumpin’ Jack Flash

He’s still not done yet, mind:

“But I’d rather suggest a song I really like, so the gas connection allows me to pitch the much-less-played ‘It’s A Gas’ by The Wedding Present. Any excuse to get the Gedge out, after all.”

I could not agree more.

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The Wedding Present – It’s A Gas

Catchphrase time! If you’re suggesting that, then I’m suggesting this:

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T. Rex – Life’s A Gas

And as a special treat, here’s Marc Bolan performing ‘Life’s A Gas’ with Cilla Black, of all people:

The less said about that the better, I think.

But whilst we’re on adverts, here’s Snuff from their ace “Flibbiddydibbiddydob” album (these are so short, you may as well have two):

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Snuff – Bran Flakes

Snuff – Shake ‘n’ Vac

After those words from our sponsors, back to The Great Gog:

“‘The Great Escape album’ from which The Universal is taken also includes a song called ‘Top Man’. When I was younger (and a little less Great) I used to venture into Manchester and frequent a store of that name, and occasionally even buy something. Having done this, my then-significant other would drag me to where she wanted to buy stuff – Chelsea Girl. Obviously the title of a song by Simple Minds…”

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Simple Minds – Chelsea Girl

Well, if you’re suggesting that, then I’m suggesting this:

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Ride – Chelsea Girl

Sorry GG, I interupted, do carry on:

“…[Chelsea Girls is] also referenced on Mighty Mighty’s ‘Is There Anyone Out There?’ Which sort of links back to matters universal.”

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Mighty Mighty – Is There Anyone Out There?

Right, where next? Since we seem to have exhausted all of the possibilities of links to “The Universal”, how about links to Blur? Seems like a plan.

Over to Birthday Boy Rol (45 today!) from My Top Ten, then, with two and a half suggestions:

“Suggestion that needs no explanation: ‘Mr. Blur’ by Tom Verlaine.”

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Tom Verlaine – Mr. Blur

He continues: “Suggestion that leads a little more explanation: Blur used to be called Seymour. I’m sure someone will link to the obvious song from that (the one about a record company boss…”

You mean this one, I assume?

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Belle & Sebastian – Seymour Stein

“…so,” Rol continues, “I’ll point us towards the character of Seymour in the movie ‘The Little Shop of Horrors’ and suggest the song ‘Feed Me, Seymour’ as sung by the killer plant Audrey II (aka Levi Stubbs from The Four Tops).”

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Audrey II – Feed Me (Git It)

The Great Gog’s back:

As Rol has mentioned Seymour, the track that I always think of when I hear Blur’s previous name is ‘Read About Seymour’ by Swell Maps.”

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Swell Maps – Read About Seymour

Now, before he started listing spacey songs, abramson60 also proffered up a few relating to the name of Blur:

“Blur taken as unclear leads me to…”

 Lindisfarne

Lindisfarne – Fog On The Tyne

You can all count yourself lucky that I decided not to post the version with Gazza on it. Actually, that might have been quite appropriate, since writing and indeed reading The Chain often has the air of a hostage situation about it, so maybe we should expect him to rock up with a bucket of fried chicken and a fishing rod.

Anyway, back to you abramson60:

“…or maybe when everything clears…”

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Jimmy Cliff – I Can See Clearly Now

I’ve got Snuff covering that too somewhere, but let’s not overdo it, eh? That would take us over the 2 minutes of Snuff records mark, which would never do.

Any more, abramson60?

“Having said all of that I would much prefer to offer up Dr Phibes and the House of Wax Equations (any brownie points for extra long band names?) [Nope – Ed] and Hazy Lazy Hologram, link being obvious and in hazy, and everyone loves drug induced music, don’t they?”

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Dr Phibes & The House Of Wax Equations – Hazy Lazy Hologram

Back to Julian for his obligatory weekly suggestion of a record by Lambchop:

“A Blur is what the world is when ones had too many HIC!!

Where was I ?

Who fucking knows?

Oh yes its all coming back to me…..”

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Lambchop – The Man Who Loved Beer

And what of the individual members of Blur, there must be some links there, right?

Guess what, here’s abramson60. Again.

“Blur’s singer is Damon Albarn who is the son of Keith Albarn, who once managed Soft Machine, whose drummer Robert Wyatt went onto have a solo career, recording ‘Shipbuilding’ which as we all know was written by Elvis Costello, who took part in the Red Wedge tours along side Billy Bragg. So my suggestion has to be ‘Valentine’s Day Is Over’.”

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Billy Bragg – Valentine’s Day Is Over

I have two things to say about this. Firstly, I had no idea of the Albarn connection to Soft Machine, and secondly, abramson60 did suggest this back on February 15th, which makes his choice of Billy track a little more understandable.

But frankly, you had me at “Shipbuilding”:

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Elvis Costello & The Attractions – Shipbuilding

SWC’s back:

“Damon Albarn was the boyfriend of Justine Frischmann of Elastica. So let’s have ‘Stutter’ from them.”

The first record I ever bought by Elastica this, albeit on an NME compilation album of their Singles of the Week from 1993, and without doubt one of the finest ever songs about erectile disfunction.

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Elastica – Stutter

Charity Chic’s back, with the obligatory Clash record of the week. Don’t worry George, there’s a finite number of them that can be suggested:

“Damon Albarn was in The Good,The Bad and the Queen, as was Paul Simonon who wrote and sung ‘Guns of Brixton'”

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The Clash – The Guns of Brixton

Speaking of George, he’s been rather quiet so far this week, so here’s the first of his suggestions:

“Damon Albarn was/is also in a band called Gorillaz, and gorillas are in a branch of primates, as are monkeys, leading to ‘Monkey On My Back’ by The Triffids (from the Field of Glass EP). I think the song is not actually about monkeys.”

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The Triffids – Monkey on My Back

Well, if you’re suggesting that, then I’m suggesting this:

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Inspiral Carpets – Monkey On My Back

In fact, given his involvement with Gorillaz, you could describe Albarn as a…

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 The Maytals – Monkey Man

(My apologies, by the way: I realised I’ve misnamed the mp3 as Toots and The Maytals, rather than just The Maytals, but I really can’t be arsed with changing it.)

The Great Gog’s back again:

“I did have one more up my sleeve, but left it in case anyone else came up with it – they haven’t , so here goes. Blur’s lead singer is D. Albarn. Shuffling one of those letters to the left a bit allows me to type Dr. Alban, the early 90’s hitmaker who made such a lasting impression on me that I can only recall one of his tunes…”

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Dr Alban – It’s My Life

Hands down winner of the “Worst Record of the Week” award, there.

“Used in a Tampax advert at some point in the nineties too,” pipes up The Beard. Now, let’s not lower ourselves by making any jokes about that particualr subject. That’s it. None. End of. Period.

Instead, let’s move onto the other members of Blur, and focus for a moment on bass player Alex James. Over to you, George:

“Another Alex is Alex Harvey, so the song is from the first Sensational Alex Harvey Band album ‘Framed’, and ‘The Hammer Song’.”

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The Sensational Alex Harvey Band – The Hammer Song

Another from SWC next, I think:

“When he is not doing that [being in Blur] he schmoozes up to his famous neighbours David Cameron and Jeremy Clarkson. He also pretends to make cheese which gives us a lovely link to ‘Gorgonzola’ by Leslie Sarony.”

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Leslie Sarony – Gorgonzola

Mention any of the old music hall acts such as Leslie, and I’m afraid I can’t help thinking of this chap:

Back over to Rol, who might just see this post before his birthday’s finished:

“All this talk of Alex James’s cheese behooves me to suggest Copy Cats by The Humdrum Express, which features the lines…

“I read a Jamie Oliver’s Feastival review
Where ex-Top Gear presenters jumped the queue
To a sign publicising ageing sleaze
But it was Alex James’s aptly named new cheese”

(It also features the line “More Betty Than Swervedriver”, which I’m half thinking of stealing to rename my blog.)”

Bagsy and first dibs duly note.

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The Humdrum Express – Copy Cats

I may aswell chuck one in to the Alex-mix. When he isn’t making cheese, or being in Blur, he’s also popped up in some questionable novelty acts, most famously with Fat Les, but also in Wig Wam, a truly awful project that I’m not going to offend your ears by playing. His partner-in-crime there, though, was one Alison Clarkson aka Betty Boo:

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Betty Boo – Where Are You Baby?

Two band members left, and absolutely nobody suggested anything Graham Coxon-related so I had a quick shufty round and found that according to wikipedia, he appeared on Blue Peter twice as a child.

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Mike Oldfield – Blue Peter

But since all the rest of the band are getting at least two songs, we may as well have one of his singles. Friends of mine will attest that every time we’ve heard thisplayed out, I always point out that the intro sounds a lot like “Into the Valley” by Skids (Since nobody has ever agreed with me on this point, I’d post it so you could compare, but as it’s already featured on The Chain once before, I can’t. Who made these stupid rules up anyway??):

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Graham Coxon – Freakin’ Out

Which just leaves drummer Dave Rowntree, and a suggestion by The Beard:

“He shares his surname with the confectioners Rowntree. They are based in York and created the KitKat. York City’s Bootham Crescent ground was for a period renamed KitKat Crescent. ‘Crystal Crescent’ is a track by Primal Scream amd nothing to do with chocolate or the city of York.”

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Primal Scream – Crystal Crescent

Times may not change, by Primal Sceam certainly have over the years, haven’t they?

Finally, Rowntree has stood for election three times on behalf of the Labour party, losing on each occasion. Which leads me to this:

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Radiohead – Electioneering

Which just leaves us to reveal what the next record in the Official Chain is, and many of you will have noticed the absence of one particular song from the start of this post, when we looked at songs with the word “Universal” in the title. Many people wanted to suggest this, but Swiss Adam from baggingarea was the first out of the traps so the kudos and points are his this week:

“The Small Faces have their own ‘Universal’ which is a lovely song.”

Ain’t that the truth:

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Small Faces – The Universal

So, all that laves me to do is to ask for your suggestions, please, for songs which link to “The Universal” by Small Faces, along with a brief description of the link, via the Comments Section down below, in time for the next edition.

Let’s say that will be next week, and see what happens, eh?

More soon.

The Premier’s In

Meanwhile, in that there football world, it’s the opening day of the Premiership today. And as if by magic, as I queued up to buy my lunch yesterday, my iPod gave me this to listen to, a song which to these ears is synonymous with football highlights (that, and a truly awful performance at Glastonbury 2010, when Ian Broudie seemed determined to prove every song he had ever written he had done so in the wrong key for his singing voice):

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The Lightning Seeds – The Life of Riley

Since I have a “never knowingly give any money to Murdoch” philosophy, I have no idea what tune Sky have chosen to accompany their Football coverage this year. I imagine it’s something by Kasabian. Which is another reason not to watch Sky, of course.

But I was mightily heartened today to note that BBC’s Saturday lunchtime football show, “Football Focus” was continuing to use this masterpiece as the theme tune:

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Ride – OX4

No matter how many times I post that, it gets no less majestic.

There you go: that’s your ball entertainment covered, which is about as much as can be said for Gary Lineker when he hosts tonight’s Match of the Day, it seems.

More soon.

Friday Night Music Club

The other thing about having a day off on a Friday is that I have more time to put together a few songs for your Friday night delectation. Which you would think means an improvement in quality, in the tunes if not the writing. I’ll leave it to you to decide if that’s the case or not.

At the very least, it’ll be delivered earlier than usual.

After last week’s poptastic disco post, we’re heading back into slightly louder indie territory for this week’s selection. Oh, and a theme towards the end. Of course.

So, first up, the second song I ever heard by one of my favourite ever bands, and still sounding fresh as a daisy:

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87. Super Furry Animals – God! Show Me Magic

Now to a band that I managed to catch twice last year, and have written about on these pages before. When I last waxed lyrical about them, I mentioned I have a semi-amusing story to tell, which I would save for the actual “A History of Dubious Taste” thread. That still holds, you’re getting nowt out of me now. (I realise I may be building this up a bit too much, of course. Calm down. Note the words “semi-amusing”. They have been chosen for a reason.)

Anyway, from their “Play” EP, for me, this is one of their finest moments:

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88. Ride – Like A Day Dream

(Happy Birthday Neil)

Something a little more recent now, and when I say recent, this is my definition, so I mean released two years ago. From Worthing, in Sussex, here’s some:

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89. Royal Blood – Little Monster

And whilst I’m attempting to at least appear vaguely hip and current, here’s another one from way back in the midst of time (i.e. 2014):

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90. The Black Keys – Fever

Okay, time to take you back, and to a psychobilly group that had one hit, this one, back in 1983.

King Kurt came to my attention via the Personal File of lead singer Gary “The Smeg” Clayton in Smash Hits, where I’m sure they referred to him as Smeggy, but I can find nothing to corroborate this, so maybe I’m wrong. It’s been known to happen.

The Personal File in Smash Hits was usually a half-page feature and was a telephone interview, which gave the interviewer (usually, if memory serves, the late, great and much missed Tom Hibbert) the advantage of not having to be too concerned about any awkwardness his questions might cause. Hibbert was the master of this format; he would start by asking a few standards (Name, Date of Birth), move into obviously teen-pop magazine territory (First Crush?) then ask something so off-the-wall as to make the interviewee think the article was going to be just fluff at best.

As an example, having done the above, he asked Neil Tennant of Pet Shop Boys “Does your mother play golf?”, quickly followed by “What kind of underwear are you wearing?” (Note – this is not a question to be asked in any other context. I’ve got in a lot of trouble that way.) With the interviewee now suitably relaxed, Hibbert would go in for the kill. Again, from his Neil Tennant interview: “What does Chris do in Pet Shop Boys?” and “Why does he always look so moody?” – to be fair, the questions everyone had always wanted to ask – and so deliciously skewered is Tennant, so caught off guard, he provided the following answers, respectively: “He tends to write the songs’ ‘hooks'” and “Because he is moody…’sulky’ is a better word…When he found out we were Number One all he could do was complain that we had to do Top of the Pops again.”

Anyway, dragging myself back from the tangent, there was one of these about Gary “The Smeg” Clayton/Smeggy, about which I can remember nothing other than that I thought his name was funny, but then I was a 14 year old boy at the time.

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91. King Kurt – Destination Zululand (Humdiddlededumhoowahayha)

Onwards now to 1994, and a blast of Inspiral Carpets, who were derided by many when they were at their peak, and even more so when they attempted a come-back. Unfairly so, I think: in my book they were a great and consistent singles band. In December last year, my little group of friends met up, as we do every year, in the Dublin Castle in Camden for our annual drink-and-plough-pound-coins-into-the-juke-box-a-thon. There will always be a bit of a drunken sing-a-long, always, as I think I may have mentioned before, to “Fairytale of New York”, but last year also to the Inspiral’s “This Is How It Feels”. Y’know, cos it’s such a cheery Christmas song. One of my happiest moments of 2015, as it goes.

Anyway, here, from their “Devil Hopping” album, is this:

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92. Inspiral Carpets – I Want You (featuring Mark E. Smith)

Back in the early 1990s, Top of the Pops had a policy that, were you lucky enough to appear on the show, you had to perform the vocals live. This led, most infamously, to Kurt Cobain performing “Smells Like Teen Spirit” as if he were a 45rpm being played at 33rpm (and yes, I appreciate that some of my younger readers will have no idea what rpm means. Google it.)

It also gave rise to, as far as I’m aware, the only ever appearance on Top of the Pops by The Fall’s Mark E. Smith. It’s worth a watch, if only to see him getting the words wrong and forgetting where he is supposed to come in, cackling into the mic when he gets it wrong, despite frequently (and obviously) checking the words on a crumpled piece of paper, whilst Inspirals singer Tom Hingley gamely ploughs on with his bits.

If for nothing else, we should all be eternally grateful to Inspiral Carpets for giving us this.

All of which has got me in a Fall kinda mood, so here’s my favourite record by the ramshackle Mancunian growlers:

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93. The Fall – Dead Beat Descendant

As with many bands I figured I needed to know more about, I bought their “45 84 89” singles compilation when I was younger. I have to confess, there was much that I didn’t get at the time. But there were also several tracks I loved, some of which I knew were cover versions, one of which I only found out very recently was one. So let’s start there:

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94. The Other Half – Mr. Pharmacist

Next, this:

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95. R Dean Taylor -There a Ghost in My House

Somewhere in the back of my head is the factoid that R Dean Taylor was the only white singer to release a single on the Tamla Motown label, but I’ve found nothing online to support this. What I have found is that he was signed as both a writer and performer for the label, and even played on Motown classics “Standing In the Shadows of Love,” and “Reach Out” (even it was only the tambourine he played).

Finally this week, a band that, I’m relieved to say, needs no introduction or further comment:

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96. The Kinks – Victoria

That’ll do for now.

More soon.

Late Night Stargazing

So, on Thursday night I went to see Ride play the Brixton Academy.

I had bought my mate Holmesy a ticket for his 40th birthday (he won’t thank me for announcing that here – it took him 9 years, 364 days to admit he was in his 30s), as in the 15 years or so I’ve known him, he has often regaled me with tales of how much he loved their track “Sennen”. So when the Oxford quartet announced earlier this year that they were going to reform to play some gigs – the first of which sold out ridiculously quickly – I knew that we would end up going, and that this would be the easiest birthday present to sort out ever.

Also in attendance: Neil, who had won two tickets earlier in the year to see Mark Gardner and Andy Bell perform an acoustic set at the 100 Club, and had kindly invited me along. He had also automatically bought two tickets for Thursday when they went on sale, so confident was he that I would be up for going (in other words, that he would get his money back without having to speak to a tout).

On Thursday, Ride had dispensed with a support act, opening with “Leave Them All Behind” as part of a Greatest Hits set (insert own gag here) for an hour or so, then came back on to do their album “Nowhere” in its’ entirety, followed by an encore which unsurprisingly took us back to where it all began, by doing “Drive Blind” and “Chelsea Girl”.

It was a truly great night. Here are some observations:

  1. There isn’t much funnier than a bunch of men of a certain age all trying to get a mosh-pit going again for old times sake
  2. Two-pint plastic glasses, whilst tricky to carry, are a God-send in terms of reducing trips to the bar
  3. Mark Gardner still looks pretty buff, but should lose the hat. If Harry Styles is wearing one in 20 years time, Twitter will break again
  4. Andy Bell really does looks like he was in Oasis for ten years (or Whatever)
  5. The other two looked exactly the same (so I’m told)
  6. Mark Gardner plays his guitar more like a penis extension than any other guitarist I have ever seen live
  7. I never gazed at my, or anyone else’s, shoes, the whole night
  8. “Drive Blind” contained an epic sonic blast of fuzz-fuelled guitar noise that had it been on the original record, you would have been checking the stylus to see if there was a massive dust-ball stuck to it
  9. It’s a tragedy that they never used to play “OX4”, such a thing of beauty was it on Thursday.

Judge for yourself:

ride_main_1345111498_crop_550x550 Ride – OX4

PS: I have a semi-amusing Ride bon-mot from back in the day. I’ll save that for when I get to 1990 in the “History of Dubious Taste” thread though. That is what’s known as “a teaser” in the business.