I try to avoid posts marking the anniversaries of records being released for two reasons.
Firstly, I can’t be bothered with, and would have no idea where to start, keeping track of this sort of thing.
Secondly, because I just feel old when I see them.
“It can’t be that long, can it?” I find myself thinking, before looking it up and finding that yes, yes it can be that long ago that the record in question came out, even if does seem like a blink away.
On my Twitter timeline this week, it was brought to my attention that Sleeper’s The It Girl is twenty five years old this week.
I wouldn’t mention it were it not for the fact that I have a ticket for a gig which has been kicked down the road several times because of Covid, where the band will perform the album before this in full, ably supported by The Bluetones doing the same for their debut album, Learning To Fly.
And so it is: Sleeper’s The It Girl is 25, and I dare not look to see how old their debut album Smart is.
So here’s one of the singles from the album, notable for two reasons. Firstly, it’s used as the theme tune to a Radio 4 panel show (either the Sue Perkins hosted Dilemma, or the Victoria Coren-Mitchell hosted Heresy, I can’t remember which now and typically neither are available on the iPlayer at the moment to allow me to check – I think it’s the former):
I promise that I’m not going to start all of my posts with these words, but following the last instalment of The Chain I had an email from from long-time reader and Chain Gang contributor George who said that he was “toying with idea of making a cd of Chain 48”. (To any of our younger readers, CDs are what we used to record music on to and listen to music from before streaming and making playlists became things.)
Anyway, I thought this was an excellent idea, because I have a playlist for every edition of The Chain, the purpose of which was partly so that I could revisit and relive the good times and the bad, but mostly so that I could check whether something had already been suggested and therefore was precluded from being nominated again. You may have noticed I’ve been rather lax about this since The Chain returned, and that’s not going to change: I figure in these days of Trump & Johnson, of global pandemics*, international recessions, corruption at a governmental level, and starving children (it was The Chain or a Rant today), there’s more important things to worry about than duplications in The Chain back catalogue.
(*Sit down, New Zealand, I’m not talking about you)
Anyway, the point I am trying to make is that to get all of #48’s songs onto one CD would take a lot of editing choices, so I’d love to hear which songs made the cut – even more so should you decide on making one after you’ve read this one because this week (I say that like I post these every week, rather than every six weeks or so) we have just shy of 4 and 3/4 hours worth of tunes to get through, and I don’t think there’s a duff choice amongst them. Some ropey ones, yes, but duffers, no. But then Kay hasn’t suggested anything this time, so…..so maybe I should crack on.
Oh, and George (Incoming obligatory oblique 1970s TV reference that about 80% of you won’t get): I’m sorry but we aren’t able to return any drawings sent in, but yes, it is a big one, no I’ve never seen one quite that shape before, and no I don’t need you to send me a photo, but thank you for the offer.
OK, so let’s start as we usually do with a reminder of the source material this time around, which was this:
As you might expect, we have a lot of tunes related to Talk(ing), some related to Fear of Music (the album that features on), and then what I believe is the collective term for lots of suggestions on a similar theme: an absolute fuckload of songs linked to a specific city, or the words cities or city. As always, I’ll try to put them in an order that makes some kind of narrative sense (you’ve noticed I do that right?) but if you’re planning on doing yourself a playlist of these, I’d be interested to see if you think you’ve done better (NB: no I wouldn’t. Keep it to yourself, thanks very much).
Not quite first out of the traps this time was Swiss Adam from Bagging Area who, as he will explain, suggests a tune which simply demands to go first:
“Cities should have a theme and luckily we have an ahead of its time piece of ice cool euro dance that found a second life in the Balearic sounds of ’88 and thereafter:“
Now, I don’t profess to know anywhere near as much about that there dance music as our Swiss, but I do know that got used on a tune recorded by David Russell Lee, who used to be known under the stage name of Joey Negro. Lee also recorded under many other pseudonyms, including this one, which throws in a Queen sample for good measure, and I think is what Swiss means when he says “thereafter”, given this came out in 2001:
But since we’re already going off on tangents, here’s a factoid for you (lifted from Wiki, so large pinch of salt at the ready): In 1993, Lee was approached by Take That’s label with a view to working together. Lee suggested they covered an old hit by Dan Hartman, which hadn’t been a hit in the UK but which had become a popular club track in the house music scene. They did as suggested, replacing Loleatta Holloway from the original with – who else? – Scottish songstress Lulu and lo! the boy band’s second number one in the UK was born.
Anyway. Cities. I think next I’ll hand over to Rigid Digit from Stuff & Nonsense to get us back on track:
“Knowing too much about 3rd Division Punk Bands (as I do), the phrase “Cities” immediately brought forth [this]…It’s OK, in a mohican wearing punky thrashing type way, but probably not what you’re looking for.”
Turns out, that’s quite the accurate description. I’m also imagining a purple and black furry jumper:
I gather Westlife are planning to do a cover of that as their comeback single.
Well, we seem to have strayed into the territory of songs with the word Cities in their title, so here’s another couple of suggestions. Firstly, C from Sun Dried Sparrows who says “I’m just plumping for the very first thing that comes into my head as a kind of quick subconscious response and it is…..:”
…which is bound to lighten the mood.
Let’s see what George can conjure up this time:
“Taking the cities from the song, to Manchester City, whose best English footballer was Colin Bell, whose birthday is February 26th, the same date as Michael Bolton…[Oh, Jesus, no…. – Ed]…wait for it…Fats Domino [Better – Ed]…and Johnny Cash, so my song is…:”
I think at this point I should hand back to Rigid Digit, who gave me a whole host of acts who had recorded songs called In The City, the first of which was also suggested by Martin of New Amusements fame:
..and this (just Rigid Digit now):
and (which, if I was still giving points out, would earn a couple for being in one of the coolest films ever, but I’m not, so it won’t – and in any event, I’d have to deduct points for the artist having also been in The Eagles and Ringo Starr & His All Starr Band, surely the least cool bands ever):
Now. Regular readers will know that I have deep-seated hatred of songs being appropriated for advertising purposes, as documented in my S.S.O.S. (Stop Spoiling Our Songs) series. For the avoidance of doubt, I’m with the late, great Bill Hicks on this one:
Here’s a tune which I’ve been meaning to post for a while, and which samples Hicks and explains my thoughts better than I ever could, and which I must credit my old mate Dum Dum (not his real name) for bringing into my life:
See, it’s bad enough when songs we love are appropriated to sell something, but surely it’s even worse when an act we love pops over to an overseas land in the hope that those back home will never find out what they’ve done – and I’m looking at you Bacon and Clooney – isn’t it?:
Mostly because Joey did it too:
But I digress, again.
Rigid’s next suggestion is this: “…or even Starship who built this city on sausage rolls.” Now, we all know what he is obliquely referring to, and that’s the first of the last two Christmas #1s here in the UK. In a week where Tory MPs voted down a motion which would have ensured that children from poor families don’t starve because of the various lockdown restrictions, I thought it probably best if I didn’t post a free link to a song which tried to help. Instead, here’s the (extremely unfunny) video (and yes, this got to #1 in the UK):
…and here’s the song they are referencing:
To be fair, Rigid does offer up a vastly superior song, the title of which references the same source:
So before we set off on a little journey of all the songs mentioning actual cities in their titles or their lyrics (and there’s lots of them), we’ll have a look at all of the suggestions – most of them are mine, admittedly – which feature the word City in the title or in the artiste name. But before we do that, let’s get all of the other ones mopped up.
Here’s the Devonian with, I think, my favourite explanation ever:
“A geographical link… not going off “Cities” though, but rather the fact that the bassist in Talking Heads was the esteemed (albeit not by David Byrne) Tina Weymouth. That got me wondering whether there are any other groups with bassists named after gentrified Dorset coastal settlements. But I couldn’t find any, so I had to settle for a couple of singers instead. Therefore I give you Shelly and Karen Poole and…”
“…which is great and you know it is really.”
Actually, I’m more of an ‘I Am, I Feel’ kinda guy, as it goes, but that’s enough about why I can’t go on public transport without a responsible adult in tow anymore.
“Whilst Devonian was struggling for Dorset-named bass players to link to Tina Weymouth,” pipes up The Great Gog, “I found myself thinking of a feature of said coast that is named in a song – namely the theme tune to children’s TV show Portland Bill (which must have been 20 years old when my kids watched it on satellite telly in the early 00’s).“
I can’t say this rang any bells with me at all, but I have managed to track down a copy of the writer of the theme tune in question, playing…well, it:
Next up is PhonicPat who, undeterred by suggesting the worst record last time out, has come up with a load of absolute bangers this time, starting with this, which kinda follows on given that it’s “made up of the rhythm section of Talking Heads” who just so happen to be husband and wife combo Chris Frantz (drums) and Tina Weymouth (bass and renowned gentrified Dorset coastal settlement):
Talking Heads “…tried to continue without Byrne and released the ‘No Talking Just Heads’ album” Pat continues, “featuring collaborations with Debbie Harry, Andy Partridge and Shaun Ryder amongst others therefore:”
And Pat isn’t finished there:
“[A] David Byrne/Talking Heads link” (as Byrne features as guest vocalist on this):
Now, there’s two things to say about that: firstly Byrne mentions New York at the start, and we’ll be coming on to that city in the fullness of time; and secondly these PhonicPat sponsored words: “…(along with saucy video)“.
In the name of research, strictly so that you don’t have to press play on this next video, you understand, I have watched this, several times, and can confirm that no matter how much you might slow it down or rewind and watch again, whoever had the job of censoring out the wobbly bits did a fine job. Still, best you approach with caution, eh?
Remind me in a bit to give you a related Pet Shop Boys fact, will you?
Since we seem to have landed on band-related suggestions, George is back again:
“From Talking Heads to the Talking Book album by Stevie Wonder, and the track:…”
And moving on to other suggestions about links to the band name we have Alyson from What’s It All About? who says: “We’ve had Dollar [last time out] so in the same vein can I suggest….”
Whoa there tiger! I need to explain the “in the same vein” bit, because Dollar should definitely not be bracketed with The Fizz so lightly. Oh no. For post-1980s fame The Fizz split into two factions: one containing original members Cheryl Baker, Mike Nolan and (sighs) Jay Aston, the other containing Bobby Gee and an almighty war broke out about who should use the name Bucks Fizz to promote their cruise ship wares. And amidst this row, up popped former member of Dollar and never member of the Fizz, David Van Day who, when he wasn’t trying to be the Lawrence Fox of his day and appear all outrageous by dumping his girlfriend live on Channel 5’s The Wright Stuff, elected to appropriate the name Bucks Fizz, go on a tour, sing a couple of their songs and trouser all the cash. The twat.
Anyway, here’s Alyson’s Fizz choice:
What I love about Alyson’s choice is that she could have picked the original of that, by The Romantics, but such is her devotion to ladies having their skirts ripped off as part of a Eurovision dance routine, she simply had to plump for a bit of Fizz. Kudos.
No idea what I’m banging on about? Here you go, complete with withering intro from the much missed Terry Wogan:
Genius pop music. And I mean that.
Alyson has some other suggestions linking to Talking Heads’ name, namely:
Almost time to set off on our tour of cities, have you got your packed lunch and your waterproof coat? Ok, I’ll stall for a bit with some frankly rather clever suggestions.
The source record this time features on Talking Heads’ Fear of Music album, which takes us into the dark territory of phobias. Or, as the Devonian puts it: “Cities is from the album Fear Of Music… which is a Phobia… which is a song by Flowered Up”
It sure is:
Which leads us neatly on to Hal’s suggestions: “Didn’t Cage the Elephant release an album called Melophobia?” he asks, rhetorically. Well, yes, yes they did. And in case you were wondering, Melophobia is the correct technical term for having a fear of music, so here’s something from the album of the same name:
I’ve always avoided them because, well, I thought (and still do) that they have a terrible name, but that’s not bad so maybe I need to reassess.
Anyway, Hal isn’t finished yet: “Which leads us to Phonophobia: The Second Coming by Extreme Noise Terror. Or perhaps not…”
Too late, you’ve said it now.
Phonophobia: The Second Coming is an album by Extreme Noise Terror, and this is one of the songs on it:
Peelie would be proud.
How do you follow that? With this:
Thank goodness for Rol from My Top Ten who kindly steps in to suggest this, which in his eyes “seems an obvious winner”
Frankly, if we’re going to mention bands with the word City in their name, I don’t think we can justifiably omit this lot:
“The other obvious one”, Rol continues undeterred, and I’ll let him carry on because I can’t quite work out where else to place this, “is to jump to Radiohead (as they took their name from a Talking Heads song) and Street Spirit (because there are lots of streets in cities…)
He’s not wrong, there are. I counted at least seven near where I live just the other day, and I think I may have missed some.
I hadn’t finished with bands with City in their names. This lot are definitely less renowned than Mr McKeown and the gang (Bay City Rollers, not Radiohead) and are named after 2000AD’s Judge Dredd comic strip. Play this one loud:
And so we move on to songs with the word City in the title (that aren’t called In the City). You know how until that last little spurt I’ve hardly suggested anything so far? Consider that ended. Eyes down and here we go with the almost entirely forgotten about:
…to an often overlooked gem:
…and the never to be forgotten:
A sort of clever one: this was released on City Rockers, a label synonymous with the electro-clash sound of the early 2000s:
And we shouldn’t overlook this brace of bangers:
…which almost inevitably leads us here:…
…which leads me to this spoof record, but it’s a spoof of a song which doesn’t have a city in it’s title, but I’m sure you’ll get it:
And finally, I was very surprised that absolutely nobody suggested anything from PJ Harvey’s magnificent Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea album, so I guess I’ll have to:
I’m stalling because it feels slightly disingenuous to be suggesting we go on a world tour just as so many cities around the world are locking down to prevent travel and the potential spreading of the Corona virus, so can I ask that you all don your face masks, smear yourselves in hand sanitiser like it’s goose fat before you attempt to swim the Channel, don’t stand so close to me and we’ll be off, safely.
But where to start? “Something from Gerry Rafferty’s very fine City To City album perhaps?” pipes up Rigid Digit again, which seems a perfectly good suggestion, and I’ve plumped, somewhat obviously, for the title track:
And it’s to Rigid Digit that we turn to yet again as we herald the start of The Chain World Tour which, given some places like my beloved Wales have gone into circuit-breaking lockdown today, I must say I feel a teensy bit guilty about, but, nevertheless, here we go.
Truly, there can only be one song to kick this off, and as Rigid quotes: “London, Paris, New York, Munich. Everybody talk about…:“
“I was beaten to M,” moans The Great Gog, “but other songs name-checking a number of cities that sprang to mind were…:”
Not forgetting, as Martin from New Amusements points out, a song which (apart from the Hang the DJ bit) perhaps most perfectly encapsulates where we are right now:
Ok, let’s start, with a whistle-stop tour of the UK. Here’s The Robster:
“I was going to suggest the wonderful Theme For Great Cities but Swiss Adam beat me to it! So I decided to think about songs ABOUT cities. Then I realised I’d be suggesting about 4 million songs and you’d hate me more than I’d hate myself! So in the end I plumped for one city. It was going to be Newport, but the only songs about us are parodies and parodies of parodies. So I chose our neighbours instead and came up with…:
I’m not sure why The Robster thinks this lot only do parodies. Funny songs, of course: it’s their stock in trade. I mean, sure this one is a parody, but it’s the only one I know which actually mentions The Mighty ‘Port in it’s title, and (sorry Rob) from the short time I lived there, seems wholly accurate to me:
Let’s head up to Birmingham next, and I’ll hand the reins back to Swiss Adam for a moment, for he is quoting lines from the source material to guide us to our next destination.
“Birmingham ‘lots of rich people’….” (although I think Byrne was probably referring to B’ham, Alabama.)
For those of us old enough to remember, it’s hard to forget when they fell foul of a Government clause of the 1981 Broadcasting Act which prohibited the broadcast of direct statements by representatives or supporters of 11 Irish political and paramilitary organisations. The restrictions were part of the Thatcher government’s desire to prevent Sinn Féin from employing the media for political advantage.
Yeh, I know. Dry subject.
What this meant in practical terms was that when, in 1987, they appeared on Friday Night Live , a Thames Television programme hosted by Ben Elton, they played Streets of Sorrow but the broadcaster cut to an ad break before they got to Birmingham Six.
Ridiculous as the rules were, a loop-hole meant that we were allowed to hear what Sinn Fein (the political arm of the IRA) had to say, but we could not hear them spoken by a member of the political party. Generally what this meant was the words were read by an actor with a plummy Home Counties accent, but the ludicrousness of the situation was highlighted here, on The Day Today:
This next song actually mentions bombing in Birmingham, although it means it in the “not going down to well at a gig” sense, rather than the more literal interpretation:
In these times of Tiers and Lockdown, I’m not sure we’ll get any better advice than to ‘start drinking til we’re blind’ (again, metaphorically of course – I don’t want any of us to end up in one of those adverts asking people to sponsor a puppy); I know it’s what has got me through writing this post, for a start.
“This mentions Birmingham, Alabama”, offers PhonicPat, and he’s not wrong, it does:
But we’re not quite ready to go trans-Atlantic, because here’s The Robster again:
“I have another one, this time referring to my Devon roots. The nearest city to where I grew up was Exeter – so:”
What I love about IDLES, apart from their records, is that they’re so bloody angry about everything, even their name is in capital letters like they’re shouting that too.
Catchphrase time! Well, if you’re having that, then I’m having this, a song about the nearest city to where I grew up, but where IDLES are VERY ANGRY! about how shit Exeter is, The Long Blondes are just a wee bit disappointed with how dull Peterborough is:
Staying in the UK, here’s Stevie from Charity Chic Music who takes us (much) further Up North:
“David Byrne was born in Scotland – Dumbarton to be precise. So the link is obviously:”
…which not only gets added to the ever-growing pile marked: ‘Must Investigate Further’, it also allows me to include this, which the title obviously references:
Since that also mentions Berlin, we may as well pop over to Europe, y’know, whilst we still can, without having to incorporate a two-week stay in a car park in Kent. Here’s another suggestion from Martin:
Well, this all seems to have got rather gloomy rather quickly. But I have an idea! Let’s pop over to the former capital of Turkey to liven things up a bit:
It became very apparent as I was sifting through the suggestions that there were two cities which featured more than any other, so, after a spot of self-isolation, we’ll pop back to the one in the UK: That London. And first up is another suggestion from Phonic Pat which takes us on a nice little (if expensive) tour of the city:
Here’s Swiss Adam again, quoting lines from the source record:
“…a small city, dark in the day time…”
…and suggesting this absolute shoe-in:
And here’s Martin again with two further capital suggestions:
“For when one is tired of London, one is tired of life, right?” adds Martin. Try telling Alan that:
Obligatory Alan Partridge clip? Tick!
One more from Martin, “…because I love them so…” (me too, mate, me too):
Sticking with Martin’s stream of suggestions, let’s hop over to the other city which seems to be mentioned in song titles more than any other:
“Decidedly not a cover of Ol’ Blue Eyes”, Martin adds. Well no: there’s a more liberal use of the F-word than Sinatra ever committed to record for a start. Plus, without wishing to be pedantic (he says as he is about to do just that), the Sinatra song Martin refers to is actually called Theme from New York, New York, so there was never any real danger of confusion. This next one though, less so:
That’s what being brought up listening to Radio 2 does for you: you remember records like that.
You won’t be surprised to read that I’ve got loads of these, the next of which is by someone who gets a bad rap for being a bit square (I think that’s it; I certainly don’t recall him having done anything unmentionable, apart from Uptown Girl of course), but I think he’s written some absolute corkers, and this is one of them:
New York, here we are, and here’s Odyssey to tell us we fit right in:
When The Strokes released their wonderful and never-bettered debut album Is This It? in 2001 (God, that makes me feel old), there was a difference between the UK and the US release, for the UK release included this, presumably omitted from the US release because it probably wasn’t considered to sit well so close in the wake of 9/11:
Back in time now, to the first record I ever bought, sort of. You can read about that here but in case you can’t be bothered (and if you’ve got this far I can’t blame you for feeling a bit wiped out) here it is:
Remember about seven hours ago, just after The BPA tune, I asked you to remind me to give you a Pet Shop Boys factoid? Well, the time is now: before he worked for Smash Hits magazine (my gateway drug to pop music before I grew up/discovered the NME) Neil Tennant used to work for Marvel Comics, editing out any hint of nipple from the cartoons contained within the pages of the heralded comic book. And that’s not even as funny as the rumour Stuart Maconie made up about him being a fully qualified Rugby League referee.
Anyway, here’s the Pet Shop Boys:
Hold up, Swiss is back with his quoting lyrics and suggesting songs ways:
“Memphis: ‘home of Elvis and the ancient Greeks’”
Leading him here:
And if you’re going to mention Memphis, you either have to include something by a certain Mr Presley (not Reg), or make a joke about being dead on a toilet eating a burger, or post this:
Funnily enough, Mr Simon is going in the opposite direction to Ian Hunter and the Mott the Hoople crew, as suggested by Phonic Pat:
And here’s a group who are considering a move to a completely different part of the US of A:
But as we all know, there’s only one place in America that one should consider moving to:
And that’s where I intended to sign off, were it not for one final suggestion from Martin:
“Oh, and can I add Vegas by Sleeper, just because… well, okay, just because of Louise Wener, really.”
Of course you can: if it doesn’t get cancelled as opposed to being forever rescheduled, I’ll be going to see them perform their debut album Smart, sometime, along with this morning’s postees The Bluetones doing the same with their debut album Expecting to Fly:
And that’s yer lot, except to reveal the actual next record in the actual Chain, which nobody suggested.
Here’s the link: “Talking Heads had a female bassist. So did…“
Which just leaves me to ask for your suggestions for songs which link to 1979 by The Smashing Pumpkins, to be submitted via either the Comments function on this page, or if you prefer anonymity that you ultimately won’t be afforded, by email to email@example.com
I was going to suggest this tune for The Chain this week, but decided that it needs a post all of its own.
I mentioned a little while ago that I listen to a lot of comedy shows on the BBC iPlayer, and specifically name-checked the David Mitchell hosted “The Unbelievable Truth”.
Another one that I particularly enjoy is “Dilemma”, hosted by newly anointed Queen of Having Some Professional Integrity, Sue Perkins.
On “Dilemma”, panellists are posed various awkward scenarios that they have to not only explain what they would do, but justify it too. Like tequila followed by a shot of chilli vinegar, it’s better than I just made that sound, trust me.
For example (and if they don’t use this in the next series, I’ll be annoyed): the TV show you co-host has just been sold to a rival channel. Going with it means you will get paid a lot more than you do now. Do you follow the money, or do you stay put? (I don’t watch that Bake Off show, and never will, but gosh wasn’t it heartening to see Mel, Sue and Mary Berry electing not to jump ship when the BBC lost the rights to air it the other week? For a fleeting moment, we all realised that some people might just be as nice in real life as we hoped.)
By the way, I find myself unable to pronounce Sue Perkins’ name as Sue Perkins since an appearance she once made on Have I Got News For You. She was on Paul Merton’s team and Merton, who was trying to quit smoking at the time, complained that he had been partnered with someone called Superkings. And so, to me, whenever I say her name out loud, it’s Superkings rather than Sue Perkins.
Anyhoo, the theme tune to “Dilemma” is this tune by Sleeper, who are the point of reference in this week’s Chain:
That got covered by no less a musical God then Elvis Costello on his album with The Attractions, “All This Useless Beauty” – and when Elvis decides he’s going to re-work a tune, boy oh boy he does just that.
If you’re familiar with the original, but have never heard Costello’s version, then I urge you to listen to this. Actually, even if you don’t know the original, you should listen to this. To my mind, it’s one of the greatest cover versions ever. There, I’ve said it.
See? Stripped back, you realise how great some of those lyrics are: “Riding her perfume downstairs…make-up like glue…spent the whole of Sunday sticking you together” – all wonderful words that are properly fleshed out in Costello’s version.
If ever there was a cover version that defined this “How To Do…” corner of the internet, then it’s that. I may as well pack up and go home now.
I’ll be back, briefly, tomorrow (Monday) – out of character, I know, for me to post on a Monday, but you’ll see why – and then I’ll meet you all back here on Wednesday for some more Chain Gang shenanigans. Assuming that I can locate the many, many suggestions I’ve received this week. (That’s not a complaint, by the way.)
Well, it seems to be Wednesday evening again, and that can only mean one thing: I must remember to put my bins out. Oh, and host this week’s edition of The Chain.
You’ll recall we ended last week with The Cure’s “In Between Days”, and I invited you good folks to come up with songs which you can link to that record. The aim is, of course, in no particular order a) to showboat a little in your logic and song selection; b) to pick something which will cause a little debate in the Comments, be it about how great or how awful your choice is (never forgetting that, here, there’s no such thing as a Guilty Pleasure, hence recent inclusions from Busted, Chesney Hawkes, and PJ & Duncan, and you’re not necessarily saying that you like your own suggestion anyway), and c) trying to guess what the next record in the official BBC The Chain series, as featured originally on Radcliffe & Maconie’s Radio 2 show, which now airs on 6 Music.
After last week’s attempts to jiggle about with the running order, which frankly left me dazed, confused, and worried that I’d missed somebody out, I’m settling for an easy life this week, and resorting back to the tried and tested method of simply posting the suggestions as they were received.
So, first out of the traps this week was Rol from the My Top Ten blog, who was noticeable in his absence last week:
“Because I missed last week’s I thought I’d get in early this week… but now I’m spoilt for choice?
Inbetweener by Sleeper?
Torn Between Two Lovers?
Between The Wars?
Between My Legs by Rufus W.?
Walk Between The Raindrops?
All tempting, but…
Ultrasound – Between Two Rivers, from their 2012 album Play For Today. It’s lovely, it starts with a nice bit of a brass, and they’re about to release their third album any day now.
That’s my suggestion for this week.”
Now, I normally have a bit of a moan about being snowed under with suggestions, about how I might have to cap the amount of suggestions per person (I hope you all note that I’ve still not enforced that rule) but since Rol had mentioned so many potential links, and as he hadn’t proffered anything last week, I figured I’d be magnanimous and ask if he wanted to nominate a second. But there was no swaying him. Fair enough.
But wait! I stand corrected! Babylotti isn’t done yet:
“Ray Davies from the Kinks famously was seeing Chrissie Hynde for most of the 80s. Chrissie obviously being the mainstay of The Pretenders and I shall nominate their song called Back on the Chain Gang…”
I can’t really resist posting that one, for what I would hope are fairly obvious reasons:
Time was, having just posted a tune which predominantly features a didgeridoo, I’d be able to make a really bad “Can you tell what it is yet?” gag, but alas no more. That particular comedic avenue has ended up the same way as the Animal Hospital: closed.
“Or” Badger continues, “Robert Smith formed a Cure off shoot called The Glove. Which links back to Hand in Glove by The Smiths.”
Badger knows from previous posts that a very simple way to make sure I raise no objections to a suggestion – not that I ever would, unless there is absolutely no link back to the source record – is to nominate something by one of my favourite bands ever, about whom I would never make any crass comments.
So with that in mind, here’s a picture of a man’s arse:
You know that saying about how you have to wait ages for certain things to turn up – buses, or policemen, say – and then two turn up at once? Well add to that list “writers of the When You Can’t Remember Anything blog”.
Or to put it another way, here’s SWC:
“The follow up single to In Between Days was Close to Me that featured on the album Head on the Door. The first two words of which is the name of a very fine Jesus & Mary Chain track.”
This perplexed me at first, as I wasn’t aware of any Mary Chain single called “Close To”. But then the penny dropped, and such was my embarrassment at my own stupidity that I’m not going to get all pedantic and point out the album’s called The Head On the Door. And anyway, this is the first time we’ve featured one of their songs here on The Chain, so I’m not going to begrudge it. I mean, the words “Head” and “On” are still there, right?
Often on The Chain, I have to go searching the corners of the internet to track down copies of some of the songs suggested. I wish this had been one of them. But no, tucked away in the darkest corner of my external hard-drive, there it nestled.
Let’s move on shall we? There’s nothing to see here.
“Linking Cure to Medicine, and Medicine Head’s first single His Guiding Hand, a song that The Swede will surely approve of, and a song rated by John Peel as one of the finest songs ever recorded.”
Indeed he did; in 2005 there was a Channel 4 documentary entitled “John Peel’s Record Box”, which focussed on a small, private collection of 143 singles representing some of his personal favourites, which Peel stored in a private wooden box. (It should be noted at this point, that said box contained no records by his most beloved band, The Fall: he kept them in a separate box).
You can watch the whole documentary here:
Needless to say from George’s introduction, “His Guiding Hand” was in there. As is Status Quo’s “Down Down”. Just sayin’.
Since we’re on the matter of John Peel, many of you will be aware that we’re fast approaching October 25th, the anniversary of his death, and a day where all those musically interested souls who owe such a debt to Peel try do something to honour his legacy. If you’d like to keep abreast of what events are going on, I’d recommend you a) visit the excellent Keeping It Peel blog, and b) follow @keepingitpeel on Twitter.
Anyway, I digress. Here comes Charity Chic, who decides to dip into that list of potential songs which Rol gave us right at the start:
“As Rol correctly points out there could be a link to Between the Wars by Billy Bragg…”
And you lot have clearly caught me in a good mood this week, because here’s a little extra treat for you. Lifted from one of those Radio 1 Live Lounge things (I think, I can’t actually remember where I got this from), but which as far as I know has never been commercially released (hence the less than pristeen sound quality and absence of a proper sleeve) is Kirsty and Billy performing an acoustic version:
Regular readers will now they’re my team, and Badger’s too, so in a week when we lost our opening game in the Champions League and then lost our main striker for an as yet undetermined period of time through injury, I was a little reluctant to invite George to expand on this.
I need not have worried:
“OK. Robert Smith of The Cure to Tottenham Hotspur footballer (of the 1960/1 double team) Bobby Smith. Tottenham Hotspur play at White Hart Lane (or used to) (Still do, mostly – Sports Ed), and Clay Hart was a country singer whose most famous song begins with these awesome lines “In a broken down apartment house lay a woman in labour…said by the grace of god I’ll have this child with the help of a neighbour”! Spring, by Clay Hart. Only in country music do you get such fabulous lyrics.”
And that, dear readers, is how to do Comment Showboating:
“For my suggestion this week I’m going down the knob-twiddling route once again. David M. Allen co-produced a string of Cure albums, including ‘The Head on the Door’ from which ‘In Between Days’ is taken. Among Allen’s many other production credits is my favourite (and a criminally overlooked) Psychedelic Furs LP, ‘Book of Days’, from which I’ll choose ‘Torch’.”
You can’t beat a bit of know-twiddling in my book (innuendo very much intended), and it’s the type of link that doesn’t appear often enough here.
And that concludes all of your suggestions for another week and I’m afraid none of you guessed what the record was in The (official) Chain. But before I reveal all, here’s my two suggestions, and I went down the same route as Alyson and George (with his first suggestion) did, going from The Cure to another word for a cure being a remedy, which led first to this, where Keith and the boys have got not just the poison, but the remedy too, which is one of those Good News/Bad News scenarios:
Literally not heard that in years, and bloody great it still sounds too.
And so, to the official record and Rol, you are going to kick yourself, as are you CC for picking out the wrong one from his list of semi-suggestions. For the next record in the BBC Chain was chosen following this suggestion:
“…From ‘In Between Days’ to ‘Inbetween-er’…” Ah well, never mind chaps, eh?
And that’s that for another week. So please submit your suggestions for songs which you can link to “Inbetweener” by Sleeper, along with your reasoning for the connection, via the Comments section down below.
I’ve got one already, unless one of you lot go and nick it first.
You’ll forgive me if I crack right on this week, as we have an awful lot to get through.
Ok, so we ended last week asking for suggestions for records to play which had some vague connection to Elvis Presley’s “(Marie’s The Name) His Latest Flame”, and I’ll tell you straight off that one of you managed to suggest the song that follows next on the official Chain. So: bonus points will be awarded at some point in today’s post.
“I’m sure there must be other Maries in popular music (though I can’t think of any off the top of my head), but I do know that Marie’s the (real) name of the fairly popular vocalist and light entertainer, Lulu. So in accordance with your request for some cheese (and because I don’t actually know very much by Lulu), how about “Boom Bang A Bang”?”
I can’t pretend this isn’t a song that I love and have posted before, so I’m not complaining. Ladies and Gentlemen, we give you the UK’s entry into the 1969 (a good vintage, by the way) Eurovision Song Contest:
For those of you who don’t know the Euro-tale behind this, it was back in the days when the UK wasn’t hated by the rest of Europe, and we regularly stood a fairly good chance of winning the Eurovision Song Contest. In 1967, Lulu’s tune was the UK’s entry, and it was involved in a four-way tie for first place, with France, Sweden and the Netherlands. Regrettably, there wasn’t time to go through the process of establishing an out-and-out winner on the night, so Lulu was proclaimed joint-winner.
Now. Strictly speaking, I should be declining that suggestion on the grounds that the song we’re linking to has the name “Marie”, not “Maria” in it. But, before there are complaints from the locals: I’m going to let it slide this time, for three reasons: firstly, it’s your first time here so I’ll cut you some slack; secondly, for a time in the late 1980s I loved Miss McKee’s band Lone Justice, and they will feature again here soon, so I’m more than happy to hear some of her solo-ish work; thirdly, I don’t think there’s a single one of the regular contributors who haven’t posted a suggestion then gone “Doh! I’ve thought of something waaaay better than that!”, and I, diligent and warm host that I am, have posted both. So, shush. Maria McKee suggestion stands.
Take the pressure off me, someone, please?
Ah, here’s Charity Chic, creator of the Chain Gang name with which you are all now blessed (I’m still kicking myself that I didn’t think of that.)
“I suspect I would lose points for the fairly obvious Marie Marie by Shaking Stevens. So what about the original by The Blasters?”
No, but you might lose points for placing an erroneous g where a ‘ should be in his name. Very long term readers will know, I was pretty much obsessed with the Shaky one when I was a kid, so sorry, you’re getting both versions:
Speaking of points, here’s….no, not yet, calm down, I’m just messing with you…
Oh wait, it’s Charity Chic again!
“I see a Maria has already sneaked in. Maria was a song in the musical West Side Story (don’t panic I’m not stopping there) Squeeze had an album called East Side Story which included the wonderful Tempted.”
I have to admit I kinda lost interest in Maximo Park after their second album, so it’s rather nice to hear something from later on in their career. Time for to me to revisit them, I think.
Hold up. babylotti’s back:
“I shall suggest another one, Sister Marie Says by OMD, from their 2010 History of Modern LP, though written in 1981 it sounds like it could have appeared next to Enola Gay and not been out of place. And he sings this as Sister Mary, not Marie to add to my earlier Maria faux pas”
I can’t say that anything by OMD had crossed my radar since they stopped writing records for Atomic Kitten (there’s a separate theme starting right there…) and reformed, but I take your point about that sounding like something circa Enola Gay.
babylotti’s not finished there though:
“Ok last one, I suggest His Latest Flame – “Somebody’s Gonna Get Hurt” for hopefully obvious reasons…..”
Now, there’s a name I’ve not heard for a long time.
“As we all know, at one point Elvis’ latest flame was Priscilla Beaulieu but Priscilla was also the real name of that other ’60s singer/light entertainer Cilla Black. (Don’t worry it’s not going to be Alfie) – Going to choose her very first release, the Lennon & McCartney penned song Love of the Loved please.”
The very thought of Louise Wener still makes me go a little weak at the knee….
Here’s S-WC’s second choice:
“The second one is that Elvis as well as singing about Flames called Marie also wrote about being ‘In The Ghetto’ which is probably his finest moment. That was memorably covered by Leatherface on their 1989 classic ‘Fill Your Boots’”
Remember how earlier I said ‘I don’t think there’s a single one of the regular contributors who haven’t posted a suggestion then gone “Doh! I’ve thought of something waaaay better than that!”, and I diligent host that I am, have posted both.’? Well, here’s What’s It All About, Alfie? back for a second bite:
“I’m back as now having listened to my last suggestion it sounds truly awful so to redeem myself I’m going to suggest that other Elvis – Costello. He also sang about a girl’s name, the lovely Alison.”
Even if I wanted to complain about multiple submissions (which I don’t), that is not a song I could resist posting (so I won’t):
Hold up, here’s George with what I think we can all agree is this week’s clear winner of the Comments Showboating award:
“Here goes. The song (Marie’s the name) His latest Flame was originally sung by Del Shannon. Unfortunately Del Shannon killed himself with a gun (in 1980). And two years earlier Terry Kath had killed himself with a gun, although this was accidental [this from Wikipedia: “Don’t worry about it … look, the clip is not even in it.” …….Kath showed the empty magazine………….then replaced the magazine in the gun, put the gun to his temple and pulled the trigger. However, there was a round in the chamber, and Kath died instantly.] Terry Kath was in the band Chicago, whose song 25 and 6 to 4 is pretty good.”
If, like me, you’re more familiar with Chicago for their slushy ballads (“If You Leave Me Now”, “Hard to Say I’m Sorry” etc.) then I’d heartily recommend you give this one a listen to see what they used to sound like:
“I was going to link to The Smurfs but they’re Belgian….so instead. Elvis Presley’s manager was Tom Parker (who was Dutch, and I thought the Smurfs were Dutch but they’re not). And Parker was a character in Thunderbirds, he was Lady Penelope’s chauffeur/manservant. And Felt did a song called Penelope Tree.”
As I mentioned in the Comments to last week’s post, I cannot believe I’ve not posted anything by Felt before, lead singer Lawrence being one of the great unsung heroes of the UK independent music scene:
Of course, they weren’t the only band who released a Thunderbirds-related single, for in 2004 those naughty Busted boys had a hit with the theme to the movie. But I’m not going to play that. A Thunderbirds related Busted song? On these pages? Don’t be so ridiculous.
“Some good tunes already suggested: Smiths, Felt & OMD. Hit by the perils of just returning from hols with all the good suggestions gone, and I feel like I’m being forced into a bit of fromage. I’ve been on a cruise ship on the Baltic for the last fortnight, and I believe Tony Christie was doing such venues at one point. He of course had a girl called Marie who was apparently hanging around for him in Amarillo, presumably as there was nothing else to do there.”
I really wouldn’t worry about the fromage, GG. You’ve seen what I posted,right?
Those of you who read the Comments on this section as they come in will know that Charity Chic posted a very intriguing comment, which I invited CC to expand on:
“You’re wrong there about Amarillo GG – I once spent an hour in a turkey compound there hiding from an armed and unstable man in a El Camino truck intent on causing us harm.”
For those of you were as fascinated as I was for more details, he has indeed spilt the beans, here. (Oh and cheers for the plug!)
Whilst we’re on Charity Chic, here’s a first: a (kinda) dual suggestion by two of our Chain Gang regulars. Firstly Swiss Adam of bagging area, flush with his bonus points, returns with three simple words:
“Absolutely Sweet Marie”
Since no artiste was given, I can only assume Swiss meant this version, as opposed to, say,the George Harrison or Jason & The Scorchers versions:
Ok, so before I wrap things up, two things. Firstly: CW, thanks for your comment and I – no, we all – look forward to your suggestions in the future. And secondly, many many thanks for all of the messages about my cousin, it really meant a lot to me that some of you took the time to pass on your kind words of support.
Before I get all teary-eyed, I’ll end for the night. Your suggestions please for any record that you can link to The Smiths “Rusholme Ruffians/His Latest Flame (Medley)” which is lifted from their 1988 live album (and Rough Trade contract fulfilling) “Rank” – via the Comments section at the bottom of the page please!
It’s Bank Holiday Weekend here in the UK, which can mean only one thing: being stuck in the house, watching television, whilst the rain buckets down outside until it’s time to go back to work again on Tuesday.
Which leads me onto the theme for this week, and for the next couple of weeks: Songs With The Same Name As Television Programmes, But Which Are Not The Actual Theme Tune, Or A Cover Version Of The Theme Tune Of The Programme In Question.
With a sub-title that long, you can’t really be all that surprised to learn that this one is going to take more than one week to get through….
Released in 1978, and peaking in the UK chart at 17, this new wave classic earned the group an appearance on the very show that the lyrics so roundly criticise. There’s an interesting bit of pop history about the line up too: each band member had a stage name and one, Jo Calles (a.k.a. Luke Warm), after the group split up in late 1978, went on to form Shake with, amongst others, Troy Tate, a name many of you will recognise partly from him later appearing in Julian Cope’s band Teardrop Explodes, and many more will recognise as the producer of the original cut of The Smiths’ debut album, which was ditched in favour of the mix provided by John Porter. After Shake split, Callis went on to join Human League, just in time to co-write their classic “Don’t You Want Me”. There you go, don’t say you never learn anything around here.
And just to prove that The Rezillos “Top of the Pops” was neither the actual theme nor a cover of the theme to the show in question (see, I’ve already heavily edited this subtitle), get your laughing gear around this little montage:
Moving on, here’s one of my favourite singles from the mid-90s “Britpop” era:
The title is lifted not just from the erroneously used term for Chinese martial arts (the original meaning is any study, learning, or practice that requires patience, energy, and time to complete – see, entertaining and informative, me), but also the American TV series which ran from 1972 – 1975, and starred David Carradine as a Shaolin monk called Kwai Chang Caine. The part was originally intended for some chap called Bruce Lee, only for the TV studios to duck out of casting an Asian and cast non-Asian Carradine instead. The 70s, eh? Gotta love ’em.
Having spent much of his subsequent life appearing in frankly duff straight to video B-movies such as Deathrace 2000, Safari 3000, and Night Rhythms, Carradine’s career was going through something of a renaissance following his appearance in Tarantino’s 2004 “Kill Bill: Volumes 1 & 2”, At least it was, until 2009 when he died suddenly in a hotel room in Thailand, apparently killed by the same thing as allegedly killed Michael Hutchence: the old “erotic asphyxiation” routine, which I shall not be demonstrating for you any time soon.
Here’s the title credits, featuring not just David Carradine, but Keith too:
But there’s another popular culture moment involved with the Ash single: the sleeve, which captures that moment back in 1995 when Manchester United’s Eric Cantona, having just been sent off during a match against Crystal Palace, got ever so slightly upset by some comments from the crowd:
This, inevitably, led to a lengthy ban from the game for Cantona, and to this very brief press conference statement which I often see people describe as being confusing:
Now, I do not claim to be a man blessed with profound intellect, but that’s not really that hard to understand, is it?
Anyway, on May 21st 2016, Manchester United and Crystal Palace will meet each other in this year’s FA Cup Final, and there’s the teensiest part of me that hopes one of the participants decides to re-enact the Cantona moment. My money’s on Palace boss Alan Pardew, whose got a bit of form in the losing his rag stakes. Him, or United’s Marouane Fellaini, who I’m sure you could wind up pretty easily if you asked him when the new series of Saved By the Bell is going to start enough times.
Sleeper will feature many more times on these here pages, so we’ll jump straight to the TV show from whence the title is ripped:
I bet there’s quite a few people my age and older who went a tad misty-eyed at the sight of Anglia Television’s silver knight at the start of the clip.
But, oh! Times have certainly changed in the world of TV game shows, haven’t they?
That’s broadcasting stalwart Nicholas Parsons doing the hosting duties; he can still be heard hosting Radio 4’s wonderful parlour game/panel show “Just A Minute”, and, at the age of 92 as I write this, he seems to be in possession of just as many of his faculties now as he was back then. Take that in whatever way you wish.
But Sale of the Century has a dark secret. For it was here that the Dark Overlord himself made his first TV appearance:
So, y’know, cheers for that Anglia Television.
In 1975, David Bowie released “Young Americans”; you don’t need me to tell you what an incredible album that is, or to tell you that this was one of the singles lifted from it:
Okay, so this is a bit of a cheat by me, since the Bowie single pre-dates the 1980 Alan Parker directed movie of the same name by five years:
…and the 1982 TV series by the same name by seven years:
…but any excuse to post a bit of Bowie, eh?
It also gives me the excuse to link to this 24 carat cheese nugget:
Bruno was no singer, was he?
In 1969, the BBC launched a show about holiday destinations, called “Holiday ’69”. (Stop it…..!!). The show ran until 2007, but in the 1990s, they dropped the year from the title, making it just plain old “Holiday”. Which is lucky, as surprisingly Madonna never recorded a song called “Holiday ’69” (she left that kind of grubbiness to Bryan Adams):
Back when I was at college, there was a quiz held in the Students’ Union every other Tuesday which a couple of mates and I used to regularly enter (and which I ended up hosting). The Students Union had invested in a karaoke machine – quite the new-fangled gadget at the arse-end of the 1980s – but were struggling to come up with occasions on which it could be used. So, at the end of each round of the quiz, it was decided that one member from the team with – now, I want to say the highest, but in reality, it was probably the lowest – score was invited up on stage to perform a song of the host’s choice.
My fellow team-mates were considerably less stage-shy than I, so on the two occasions that one of us had to go on stage, it was me that bowed to public pressure. The relevance of this is that on one of these occasions, it was Madonna’s “Holiday” that I was obliged to perform (on the other occasion, it was The Police’s “Walking On The Moon”, just in case you’re interested). I delivered both in a dead-pan, spoken style, a la Ted Chippington.
“Oh THAT Ted Chippington”, I hear you reply, looking none-the-wiser.
Don’t worry yourself about him now, he’ll crop up again on these pages in a lot more depth at some point or another.
So, with the BBC having a show about potential holiday destinations – which, if memory serves me right from my younger days, seemed to feature a pleasing amount of footage of continental topless beaches – ITV decided to get in on the act with a rival show, called “Wish You Were Here?”. We know a song about that too, don’t we?
Ok time to wrap things up for this week, and here’s the finest example of a song having the same name as a TV show, but this is another cheat by me as it is clearly named after and references the show in question. But it gives me a chance to play some Divine Comedy, and a lesser known track by them too: