The Chain #38

It’s weird how things pan out. We have various categories here, where I award points for (nobody’s counting, the points mean nothing, apart from giving a warm glow for the recipient) the following:

Worst/Cheesiest Record of the Week

Showboat Comment of the Week

The Next Record in The Official Chain

Well, this week, we have a suggestion for each of the above. All of them will receive points. Yes: one person correctly guessed the next song in The Official Chain. If I could afford Ray Winstone’s head to pop up to ask you to lay your bets “nahhhhh”, this is where he’d be.

To recap: last week, we ended up with “Bonny” by Prefab Sprout, from their “Steve McQueen” album. Plenty of food for thought there, you’d think? Well, we have the most tunes ever to get through this week, although that’s mostly because I kept thinking of new ones.

Oh and by the way, it was rather pleasing to note that absolutely nobody complained about my deliberate mistake last week, which was to omit the link for the Crazy Frog tune. My faith in humanity is almost restored.

But before we go any further, many of you will know that regular Chain Ganger Badger’s better half was Lorna was involved in a car crash last week. Needless to say, our thoughts and best wishes go out to them. Get well soon.

So where better to start than with Badger of When You Can’t Remember Anything‘s suggestions:

“Beans often come from sprouts so how about something by Sunflower Bean? Tame Impala perhaps…”

Yes, that’s Tame Impala by Sunflower Bean, rather that Sunflower Bean by Tame Impala. As it says on their Bandcamp page: “Tame Impala wrote a song called Led Zeppelin and now they have a song named after them.” You can’t fault their logic.

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Sunflower Bean – Tame Impala

“Or,” continues Badger, “cabbages are basically big sprouts so how about ‘Uber Capitalist Death Trade’ by them.”

Coincidentally, an album I picked up earlier this week:

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Cabbage – Uber Capitalist Death Trade

I feel a catchphrase coming on. If Badger’s suggesting that, then I’m suggesting this:

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Teenage Fanclub – The Cabbage

Badger and I weren’t the only ones to go down the vegetable route; here, with the first of several suggestions is Jules from Music from Magazines:

“Joanna Newsome has a fine number called ‘The Sprout and The Bean'”

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Joanna Newsom – Sprout And The Bean

And here’s The Great Gog:

“I feel that this is as good a time as any to mention Jasper Carrott and Funky Moped, although I think that a fair proportion of its sales were down to the inclusion of the non-musical Magic Roundabout on the flip side.”

You’re probably right, GG, so let’s stick with the A-Side which is, by the way, the Worst Record of the Week:

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Jasper Carrott – Funky Moped

There you go, that’s your five portions of vegetables sorted out for today. A reward for finishing off all of your Brussel Sprouts is deserved; here’s Jasper with a classic routine:

Of course, Brussels also leads us to Europe, and to Belgium. Here’s Michael:

“Brussels being the capital of Belgium….Arno is a legend, in Europe often singing in English , ‘Les Yeux de ma Mère’ is a beautiful song , so you could also argue the bonnie link.”

You could, but you really don’t need to:

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Arno – Les Yeux de ma Mère

And since we’re in Belgium, here’s Charity Chic from Charity Chic Music:

“Plastic Bertrand is the only Belgian singer I’m aware of….”

What, you haven’t heard of Arno before, CC…..? Care to nominate a song by the most famous Belgian (after Hercule Poirot and Jan Vertonghen, both of whom would have done better than our actual defence did yesterday).

“I only know the obvious one…”

Me too, as it goes. So here it is:

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Plastic Bertrand – Ça Plane Pour Moi

Unsurprisingly, there was a whole load of suggestions linking to Bonnie. First out of the bag is The Great Gog, again:

“It’s not too much of a leap to Supertramp and their song, Bonnie, which I would imagine will be among the contenders for worst song of the week.”

Nope, but you’ve already won that gong, so no worries:

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Supertramp – Bonnie

In a normal week, the next suggestion, from George, would win the Comment Showboat of the Week. Not this week though, oh no:

“Using the song title, Bonny, to the name Bonnie, which leads to child star of the 70s Bonnie Langford, who appeared on a TV show with Lena Zavaroni, one of Rothesay’s famous exports, and there is no way I’m suggesting ‘Mama He’s Making Eyes At Me’, NO WAY, because I am linking from Bonnie Langford to Jon Langford, founder member of The Mekons, and to the song ‘Prince Of Darkness’, who seems to be having a rare old time at the moment in the UK and the USA. (The Prince of Darkness, that is, not Jon Langford)”

See that? Biting satire as well a great suggestion:

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The Mekons – Prince Of Darkness

Over to SWC from When You Can’t Remember Anything next, who is also “going down the Bonny route” which definitely sounds like a euphemism.

“I’ll start with ‘Anne Bonny’ by Death Grips”

(Warning: contains swears.)

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Death Grips – Anne Bonny

Next up is Martin from New Amusements:

“The obvious temptation with Bonny is to go the Tyler route, but who likes obvious when there’s the Bonnie Raitt route, maybe with ‘Something To Talk About’.”

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Bonnie Raitt – Something To Talk About

Time for The Robster from Is This The Life? with a bit of a history lesson:

“The only thing I’m coming back to is ‘My Bonnie’, the 1961 debut single by Tony Sheridan. He was backed on this by some young upstarts called The Beat Brothers (as the label credited them). Apparently they went on to become quite famous under a slightly different name…”

No points for knowing who that is, of course.

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Tony Sheridan & The Beat Brothers – My Bonnie

A couple of suggestions linking to the same artiste now, once as “featuring…” and once in his own right. Let’s take Jules’ next suggestion first:

“Bonnie Prince Billy ‘We are Unhappy’ (the version from ‘Singers Grave – A Sea Of Tongues’ please)”

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Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy – We Are Unhappy

…followed by another one from SWC:

“From Bonny to ‘Prince’ Bonnie and Hot Chip’s rather lovely ‘I Feel Bonnie’.”

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Hot Chip feat. Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy – I Feel Bonnie

Time to welcome back The Beard, who pinches one off my toes:

“Bonnie was one of the Blue Peter dogs. She was a golden retriever. Golden Retriever is a Super Furry Animals number.”

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Super Furry Animals – Golden Retriever

But The Beard isn’t finished just there:

“…and from Bonnie the Blue Peter dog to Roachford’s ‘Cuddly Toy’ via Alan Partridge…”

I’m going to end up posting this every week, aren’t I…?

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Roachford – Cuddly Toy

There was a distinctly outlawish theme to a few of the suggestions; step forward Lynchie:

“Bonny made me think more of one of Billy The Kid’s aliases – William H. Bonney – so I’d like to put in a good word for Joe Ely’s ‘Me and Billy the Kid’.”

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Joe Ely – Me And Billy The Kid

In the movie ‘Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid’, the Kid is played by one Kris Kristofferson, who regular readers will know is a hero of mine, so here’s one by him:

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Kris Kristofferson – Jody And The Kid

Many of you weren’t content at simply linking to Bonnie, plumping for songs which reference, or are just plain about, famous outlaws Bonnie and Clyde. Here’s another one of mine to kick this batch off:

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Georgie Fame & The Blue Flames – The Ballad Of Bonnie & Clyde

Others to link to the dastardly duo were The Robster:

“Just remembered… ‘’97 Bonnie & Clyde’ by Eminem…” 

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Eminem – ’97 Bonnie and Clyde

“Or maybe Tori Amos’ cover of it….”

Or both?

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Tori Amos – ’97 Bonnie & Clyde

Then there’s Walter from A Few Good Times in my Life who offers this:

“I take the gangster road…in 1996 German punk band Die Toten Hosen released a song called ‘Bonnie and Clyde’.”

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Die Toten Hosen – Bonnie & Clyde

But of course, no round up of songs about Bonnie & Clyde would be complete without this one, as suggested by Swiss Adam from Bagging Area:

“Bonny>>> ‘Bonnie and Clyde’ by Serge Gainsbourg.”

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Serge Gainsbourg – Bonnie And Clyde

Serge was, of course, a randy old sod, as Whitney Houston once found out:

At which point, Rol from My Top Ten chips in:

“Two of my three Bonnie & Clyde suggestions have now come up… But where the hell is the third, arguably most obvious, one???”

But before he has chance to clarify, Michael reappears:

“You must be referring to the Steve Wynn and Johnette Napolitano version…”

This one?

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Steve Wynn – Bonnie & Clyde

Anyway, Rol’s suggestion:

“Bruce Springsteen also recorded his own Bonnie & Clyde song… Nebraska.”

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Bruce Springsteen – Nebraska

Okay, are you all sitting comfortably? Good, because I’m about to go off on a bit of a tangent, and hog the limelight for….oooh…the next five songs.

In the movie about the outlaws Bonnie & Clyde, pithily titled “Bonne and Clyde” Bonnie was played by Faye Dunaway, and Clyde was played by Warren Beatty. Beatty may, or may not have been the subject of this record:

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Carly Simon – You’re So Vain

He also played the lead in 1978’s multi-Oscar nominated “Heaven Can Wait”…

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Meat Loaf – Heaven Can Wait

…and 1975’s (not multi-) Oscar nominated “Shampoo

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Shampoo – Trouble

Faye Dunaway used to be married to Peter Wolf, lead singer with the J. Geils Band:

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J. Geils Band – Centerfold

…and she starred in 1968’s “The Thomas Crown Affair”, which won the Oscar for Best Original Song for this:

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Noel Harrison – The Windmills of Your Mind

And, of course, her co-star in The Thomas Crown affair was one Steve McQueen, which is, of the course, the name of the album that this week’s source record comes from.

(If I could award myself the Comment Showboat of the Week for that little lot, I would. Guess I’d better give it to one of you lot instead. Harumph.)

Go on then George, do your stuff:

“From Steve McQueen to Alexander McQueen, the designer, whose partner was George Forsyth, which is also the name of a long dead American General, and also of a Peruvian footballer. And also from Peru was Daniel Alomia Robles, who wrote the song El Condor Pasa, which was made famous by Simon And Garfunkel as ‘El Condor Pasa (If I Could)’.”

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Simon And Garfunkel – El Condor Pasa (If I Could)

Here’s The Beard, back for another go:

“Shaun Ryder cribbed the opening to the Happy Mondays’ ‘Step On’ (“You’re twistin’ my melon, man…”) from a documentary about Steve McQueen. ‘Step On’ is, of course, a cover of a John Kongos number that I believe has featured on these pages before [it hasn’t, so we could have it…] Happy Mondays also covered Kongos’ Tokoloshe Man. So that instead, please.”

Fair enough. This featured on “Rubáiyát”, which was released to mark record label Elektra’s 40th Anniversary:

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Happy Mondays – Tokoloshe Man

Back to Rol now, who reveals he is currently working on a Top ten of songs about, or mentioning, Steve McQueen, and suggests this:

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Gil Scott-Heron -The Revolution Will Not Be Televised

Time to check in on Jules again, who suggest a Lambchop song for the second week running (this is not a criticism, by the way):

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Lambchop – Steve McQueen

Oh, and Jules, sorry but I can’t use your fourth and final suggestion, as it has already featured in a previous Chain post. Sorry!

Anyway, other films starring Steve McQueen include “Bullitt” so here’s Swiss Adam’s other suggestion:

“Steve McQueen takes us to the jazzy soundtrack to ‘Bullitt’ by Lalo Schiffrin”

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Lalo Schifrin – Bullitt (Main Title)

Rigid Digit from Stuff & Nonsense picks up the theme:

“Bullitt features probably the greatest cinematic car chase….”

He means this, of course:

…which leads to his next suggestion:

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Madness – Driving in My Car

…and leads me to suggest this:

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Deep Purple – Speed King

Want other Steve McQueen films? Rigid’s got ’em:

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The Clash – The Magnificent Seven

…which leads me to suggest this, from the 1995 charity compilation album ‘Help: A Charity Project for the Children of Bosnia’:

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One World Orchestra – The Magnificent

In case you don’t know, that’s actually The KLF, who seem to be on the brink of a comeback…

Another McQueen film? The Great Escape. Back to you, Rigid:

“…something from the Blur album perhaps, or a convoluted reference to the Blur/Oasis race for number 1 and the suggestion of Oasis’ ‘Roll With It’…?” 

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Oasis – Roll With It

Okay, where shall we go next? I know, let’s have some suggestions relating to Prefab Sprout themselves, and to kick things off, here’s Alyson from What’s It All About, Alfie?

“I always thought that their ’88 hit ‘King of Rock ‘n’ Roll’ was called ‘Albuquerque’ as the word comes up so often in the lyrics – Whenever watching the TV show Breaking Bad which was set in Albuquerque I thought of the song ‘A Horse With No Name’ by America (from Ruislip) and sure enough it popped up in the third season (and is my suggestion for this week). A tenuous double link is that the America band members back in the early ’70s would have worn the fashionable trouser of the day – loon pants – and Prefab Sprout’s main man was of course Paddy McAloon!”

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America – A Horse With No Name

Next up, here’s The Swede from Unthought of, though, somehow:

“The prefab is a kind of house, so I’ll go with ‘My Head Is My Only House Unless It Rains’ by Captain Beefheart. Such a beautiful song.”

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Captain Beefheart and The Magic Band – My Head Is My Only House Unless It Rains

Remember Michael suggesting Arno right back at the start of this week’s post? Here’s his other suggestion:

“Prefab being an abbreviation for prefabricated makes me think of boys bands so why not something by The Monkees: ‘I’m a Believer’.”

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The Monkees – I’m a Believer

And on the subject of prefabs, here’s Alex G from We Will Have Salad:

“I should go from something by Prefab Sprout to the *original* Prefab Four, i.e. The Rutles, but I’m not actually familiar with their output. ‘Cheese and Onions’ is a mildly infamous song of theirs, though, so I’ll go with that.”

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The Rutles – Cheese And Onions

Now, we’ve had numerous links to Steve McQueen, the album that the source record features on, but what about other albums by Prefab Sprout?

“Prefab Sprout’s next album was ‘From Langley Park to Memphis’ and one of the singles from it was aforementioned ‘King of Rock ‘n’ Roll’. Elvis of course was the KORNR and he lived in Memphis so an alternative suggestion is ‘Walking in Memphis’ by Cher (as she dressed up as Elvis on ‘Top of the Pops’ back in the day).”

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Cher – Walking in Memphis

And what about the album after that….? Over to Martin again:

“‘Protest Songs’ … which is all the excuse I need to pitch ‘The Internationale’ by Billy Bragg, and hope that it scores extra points for being more relevant now than ever.”

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Billy Bragg – The Internationale

No extra points, I’m afraid Martin, but I will take this opportunity to nudge you in the direction of Swiss Adam’s Bagging Area, where he has just finished posting a week of protest songs. Worth a visit, in my opinion.

Anyway, that’s your lot for this week. Except, a little while ago, Rigid Digit mentioned the Steve McQueen film and Blur album “The Great Escape”, but didn’t actually nominate a song from said album. Magnanimous host that I am, I asked him if he had one particular song in mind:

“My choice would be the peerless ‘The Universal’ (despite it’s continuing usage on the British Gas advert)”

Can’t argue with that:

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38. Blur – The Universal

And that, as you will have gathered by the number craftily placed at the start, is the next record in The Official Chain, so congratulations, and bonus points, to Rigid Digit.

So, your suggestions, please, for songs which link to “The Universal” by Blur, along with a brief description of the link, via the Comments Section down below, in time for next Sunday’s edition.

Oh, and more soon, of course.

The Sound of (My) Silence

Day 2 of my big weekend is done; Friday night was spent watching Super Furry Animals at The Roundhouse (and after a few days of feeling like death with some kind of bronchial fluey nastiness, I can extol and endorse the virtues of going to a very sweaty gig to purge the body of such lurgy), and last night was me and my buddies’ Christmas gathering.

Normally, we have this in the Dublin Castle in Camden, but this year we moved to the Effra Social in Brixton. We had reserved a table, and got there to find that a Ska disco was going to be on.

It turned out we were misinformed; what we actually got was a rather fine Northern Soul night instead. Now, I love a bit of Northern Soul, but consider myself very much a novice, on a learning curve, and there are many other bloggers who know much more and can write far more eloquently than I about it than I, which is why it rarely features on these pages.

But one of the oh-so-many utter tunes that got played last night was this, an indisputable classic floor-filler:

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The Velvelettes – Needle In A Haystack

I got chatting to the DJ at the end of the night, a lovely chap called Gareth. If anybody in the London area wants to book themselves a Northern Soul DJ and have a bloody great night, let me know, I’ll happily pass on his contact details.

Two nights on the lash have taken their toll on me, however. I now officially have no voice left.

Which leads me to this rather fine cover version of another song that you’ll all know:

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Kimberly Anne – The Sound of Silence

Oh go on then, you may as well have the original too, performed by the villains from The Detectorists:

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Simon & Garfunkel – The Sound of Silence

Me? I’m off to slurp a honey and lemon based drink. I cannot be without my voice for tonight: Quo’s last ever (honest!) electric gig (in London).

More soon.

How to Do a Cover Version

Some would argue that if you’re going to do a cover version, you need to do radically rework it, so that to the untrained ear it sounds like something you wrote yourself.

Substitute the acoustic guitar on the original for an electric one on your track.

Upgrade the soft folky lilt of the original for a rip-roaring rollicking rock riff.

Maybe even shorten the title by, say, one vowel.

Trim out some of those rather unnecessary verses.

And then get Rick Rubin to produce it and pop it out on the uber-cool Def Jam label:

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The Bangles – Hazy Shade Of Winter

Now, here’s the original, performed by the evil ones from The Detectorists (Yes, I am going to keep making that reference until someone gets it).

I’ll leave you to decide which you prefer:

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Simon & Garfunkel – A Hazy Shade of Winter

More soon.

It’s Chriiiistmas!!!

Of course, it was only a couple of weeks ago that I mentioned I was reluctant to do any posts involving Christmas songs. My how times have changed.

There was a reason for this, other than thinking you’d all be sick of hearing Christmas songs by now. Let me take you back a few years.

I was still sharing a flat with Hel, and she, along with our two other flatmates (I say two, I actually mean one other official flatmate and his girlfriend who practically moved in on the same day as he did) suggested we had a Friday night in, just the four of us (so I’m reluctant to call it a House Party, although that’s exactly what it was) and they asked me to do a Christmas playlist to last the night.

I spent the next few weeks finding songs to fill a few hours, my idea to be structure them into sequences of three or four upbeat cheerful ones to have a bit of a dance to, then a slower one or two for us to sit down, catch our breaths, and of course, have a ciggie. And more booze.

Alas, time caught up with me, and I didn’t have chance to fashion them into any kind of order, so I elected to simply put the playlist on shuffle and hope for the best.

You can guess what happened next. My iPod decided to get the ratios the wrong way round, merrily skipping to six or seven slow, depressing Christmas plodders in a row, then chucking in Shaky’s “Merry Christmas Everyone” to lull us into a false sense of security, before reverting back to the death dirges again.

Needless to say, it was not the joyous Christmas knees-up that had been requested. I think we were all in bed by 10.30.

Well, they say that what doesn’t break you makes you stronger, so I thought I’d post a few of the less cheerful songs today, just to temper those Christmas spirits, you understand.

First up, breathy songstress Isobel Campbell and gravel-throated Mark Lanegan, from their excellent third album “Hawk”:

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Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan – Time of the Season

Next up, a slightly more upbeat track by an actual couple (at the time anyway, I’ve no idea whether they still are) from what is one of my favourite Christmas albums of recent years:

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Emmy the Great & Tim Wheeler – Home for the Holidays

Could that sleeve be any more twee indie?

A few songs by female artistes now, and taken from her breakthrough album “I Speak Because I Can” (I call it her breakthrough album partly because it was the first thing I ever heard by her, but also because by now she had ditched Mumford & Sons, who I seem to remember used to be her backing band at some point, but I’m buggered if I can find any reference to this anywhere, so maybe I dreamt it):

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Laura Marling – Goodbye England (Covered In Snow)

Moving swiftly on, here’s a bona fide female icon performing a rather over-looked single. Released back in 1980, shortly after her second album “Never for Ever”, I think I had managed to completely avoid hearing this until one of those Top of the Pops 2 Christmas Specials came on last year. You know the kind of thing, where Steve Wright, or more latterly Mark Radcliffe, make super lame jokes about the clip he’s introducing. Whoever would do such a thing? (*coughs…looks guiltily around*)  Needless to say, it’s an absolute joy:

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Kate Bush – December Will Be Magic Again

A word of warning. When I was searching for the sleeve for that single, I actually mistyped her name, writing Hate Bush by mistake. Let me tell you, that brings up a whole different set of search results than I had been expecting, only about 2% of which referred to the former US President.

Mind you, “Hate Bush” would be an excellent slogan for a t-shirt, like those “Brian Maiden” ones which were doing the rounds a few years ago. Does me typing it here count as my having copyrighted it?

(Why do I think there was one of those t-shirts about Motorhead too…? Ah yes, a certain someone I know once got Iron Maiden and Motorhead mixed up and accidentally referred to them as “Maidenhead”. Pffft! You know who you are!)

Anyway, you want iconic female singers doing slightly unhappy songs about Christmas? Well, you came to the right place, I got ’em. How about some nice Joni Mitchell:

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Joni Mitchell – River

Actually, I have a confession to make about that choice: I was rather hoping I’d be able to track down Michael Ball’s version somewhere, but have had no joy. Ho Hum. There’s always next year.

Anyway, never mind that its opening melody is “Jingle Bells” in a minor key and that the lyrics begin with a seasonal scene: “It’s coming on Christmas, they’re cutting down trees/They’re putting up reindeer, singing songs of joy and peace.” Ultimately, “River” is a bereft song about a broken romance and a woman who desperately wants to escape her heartbreak, saying repeatedly: “I wish I had a river I could skate away on.”

Well Joni, this must be your lucky day!

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Smith & Burrows -When The Thames Froze

For the unitiated, that’s Tom Smith – lead singer from Editors – and Andy Burrows who you will no doubt recognise as being the drummer from Razorlight (and now of We Are Scientists, apparently). So, proper indie royalty then (*ahem*)

Speaking of Indie Royalty, hands up who remembers this lot? Pretty huge a little while back weren’t they?

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The Killers – Boots

Three to go for today, two of which are from artists that I have banged on about an awful lot on these pages. Firstly it’s Gruff Rhys, lead singer of Super Furry Animals, from his bloody-wonderful-but-then-I-would-say-that-wouldn’t-I? “Atheist Xmas EP”:

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Gruff Rhys – Post-Apocalypse Christmas

Think yourself lucky I didn’t post (and I shit you not, I haven’t made this up) “Slashed Wrists This Christmas” from the same EP. Still brilliant, but maybe a little too dark for tonight’s post.

Instead, something which could quite easily have cropped up in my “From Leeds With Love” series, had I actually been arsed to write any of them for a while; yes, it’s The Wedding Present covering Sir Elton:

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The Wedding Present – Step Into Christmas

And lastly for today, before you get all cheerful again, this, two minutes of a newscaster reading horrible headlines about how terrible everything is whilst the evil ones from The Detectorists sing “Silent Night” in the background:

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Simon & Garfunkel – 7 O’Clock News/Silent Night

Now, tomorrow is Christmas Eve, and I’ll be travelling home to spend Christmas with my parents, so there may, or may not, be a post-tomorrow, depending on whether I get all of the things done in time that I need to. Which you could take to be a cover story to obscure the fact that I am actually Father Christmas. You might think that, I couldn’t possibly comment.

More soon.