Bye, Bye, Bye, Bye

I’ve just heard the sad news that Chuck Berry has died.

As a teenager, when I was learning to play guitar, I figured I should look to some of the greats to pick up some tips from, so I bought a Berry best of, and this has always been one of my favourite tunes of his:

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Chuck Berry – No Particular Place To Go

Pub-quizzers will know that an often-asked question is what his only UK Number One was. Answer: “My Ding-A-Ling”. It would be a shame if that’s how he’s remembered. Up until 1994, that was looking likely. Luckily, in that year, one of his songs was featured in an iconic scene from an iconic movie:

For me though, there was a cover version of one of his songs which I’ve loved ever since I bought the album it features on, and pretty much every time I saw them play live, they ended with this:

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Status Quo – Bye Bye Johnny

I could go on picking great rock’n’roll records that Chuck wrote or performed – the list is almost endless – but I’ll leave it at those three, in the hope that others out there will post more.

Suffice to say, we lost another legend today.

More soon.

 

R.I.P. Rick

Okay, I’ve had a week to compose myself. Let’s do this.

As 2016 goes through it’s final curtain call, there have been more prominent, more universally mourned, losses than that of Rick Parfitt.

But you all know me by now. I can’t let him go without saying goodbye properly.

*Hey, have you seen the news….?*

You know when you get a text like that, it’s never going to be good news.

Some context: It is Christmas Eve, and I am on a train travelling up from That London to spend Christmas with my parents. The Train Manager (no, me neither) has just done his best Norman Collier impression, announcing that the next station is my destination; I’m packing all my stuff away, when I got the aforementioned text from Hel.

*No….?* I replied.

I checked the BBC app on my phone and there it was: “Status Quo’s Rick Parfitt dies.”

I stared at it for a moment before responding.

*Shit. Now I have.*

The train pulled into the station. I alighted. In a daze I walked along the platform, over the footbridge and out to the car park, where my parents sat waiting to collect me.

My mum got out of the car, we hugged, kissed, she asked me how I was.

“Rick Parfitt’s dead,” I said.

“Oh…..” she replied, understandably a bit taken aback by my reply, and possibly not at all sure who I meant.

I got into the car, front passenger seat, next to my Dad, the designated driver.

“Hello! You alright?” he said cheerily.

“Rick Parfitt’s dead,” I said.

“Is he?” he replied, not quite sure how to react.

For the next couple of hours, my phone was alive with texts, emails, tweets, from people I know – many of them you, reading this now – saying how when they heard the news I was the first person they thought of. I find that incredible, movingly so, as if he were a family member of mine, and you’d wanted to reach out and check how I was, having heard the news.

I apologise now to you all if my answers were somewhat brief. The wind had been knocked right out of my sails. But, y’know, thank you.

Some more context: yes, 2016 has been the cruellest year. Yes, I loved Bowie, but I didn’t really get into him until my mid-teens; yes, Prince too: a little later; yes, Leonard Cohen: god, it wasn’t until the last ten years or so that I truly appreciated him. The Smiths. The Wedding Present, Super Furry Animals, Teenage Fanclub, R.E.M.: all of these had yet to either exist or cross my radar.

But Quo, they were the first. And Rick Parfitt, well he was the first rock star that I ever wanted to be.

It was a love affair that was not without its critics. As Rick said: “People try to dismiss what we do but they can’t. People have terrible goes at us about the music being simple when it’s not really. It appears simple perhaps in its chording but generally, to actually play what we play and how we play it, it’s not simple. It’s bloody hard work.”

Let me take you back. It’s a Saturday morning in 1979. I’m in my bedroom, listening to Tony Blackburn on Radio 1. He’s doing a phone-in quiz, playing the intro to a current hit, and inviting listeners to call in to identify the record and win a prize. I have no access to a phone, and I certainly didn’t have the bill payers permission to call Tony, so I resort to hollering the answer at the radio.

The song in question is “Whatever You Want”, a record with one of the most distinctive intros ever. I find myself rebuking the callers who get it wrong. And then I realise: I don’t remember ever actually hearing this record before, and yet I still know it.

I was 9, maybe 10. And The Quo had got me, right there. They were ingrained and I didn’t know how it had happened.

A few years later, 1982. The BBC are showing a concert by Status Quo, from Birmingham’s N.E.C., a venue I would venture to in a few year’s time to see them for myself. I’ve written about it before and got a take down notice for a song I posted – the only one I’ve ever had, but I don’t begrudge them, I find it kind of funny. My brother and I commandeered the television, sat down to watch, and were utterly entranced. I hadn’t been to an actual gig at that point.

The lights dimmed, a single elongated synth note signified the start of the gig, smoke billowing at foot level across the stage.

A spotlight comes on, and there was Rick, standing against what appeared to be a wall of speakers, legs apart in that classic stance, white silk shirt open maybe one button more than was strictly necessary,  white Fender Telecaster slung around his shoulders, Fender Telecaster necklace slung round his neck, blond mane shaking in time to his own rhythm, and he is fucking going for it, chugging out the opening chords to “Caroline”, our breath taken away. This was twelve bar boogie. This was rock’n’roll. This was exhilarating.

Fast forward a couple of years. My mate Paul and I are wandering round the sprawling metropolis that is Peterborough. It is around three o’clock on a Saturday afternoon. Paul has it in his mind that we will be able to pull. I am less sure, considerably less confident than he. I take him to one side and explain that in the unlikely event that we manage to talk to any girls (I needn’t have worried, by the way) I’d let him do the talking but I implored him not to introduce me by my actual name (which isn’t Jez, by the way, but you can probably work out what that’s a derivative of). Instead, I want him to tell them my name is…Rick.

To me, it was the most rock’n’roll name of the most rock’n’roll person in the world, and if just a little bit of that denim swish could rub off on me I’d take it with both hands.

It was Rick who inspired me to learn to play the guitar. Every day I would rush home from school, rush upstairs, plug my guitar in and play along to Quo records, performing my own little Quo concert to nobody at all, perfecting the stance. My parents would describe it as me “getting my fix”, which when you think about the amount of narcotics they did at their peak is kind of ironic.

I shouldn’t have been so shocked about his death, really. He’d been beset with health issues for years: a quadruple heart bypass in 1997, a further heart attack earlier this year which curtailed his touring for good after doctors told him his lifestyle of touring, drink and drugs could kill him. Rick wasn’t having it though: he vowed not to become a “born-again Christian”, pledged he would continue to enjoy the “odd pint”.

In an odd way, it’s almost a disappointment that he died because of an infection following a shoulder injury rather than as a result of shovelling a colossal amount of Columbian marching powder up his snork. Not with a bang, but with a whimper, as they say.

So, to some tunes. We all know the story by now. Band found fame in the late 60s with their psychedelic pop songs like “Pictures of Matchstick Men”, dressed up to the nines on Carnaby Street clothes that Hendrix and The Who had already rejected. The realisation that this psych-persona would not afford any longevity, and the discovery of ripped jeans and boogie is often attributed to them hearing The Doors’ “Roadhouse Blues” in a club one night, but the moment when that first got incorporated into their music can be found here, a Goffin/King cover, 3:25 in when suddenly the bass seems to take on a life of its own, and the band in a new direction:

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You’re Just What I Was Looking For Today

Then listen to this, from 1970s “Ma Kelly’s Greasy Spoon”, the first album they made in that prototype format, almost tribal, Native American in its sound:

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Need Your Love

At this point, fellow Quo stalwart Francis Rossi and Rick were writing songs together; it seemed obvious really, the lead singer/guitarist and the rhythm guitarist and backing vocalist pairing up, but it wouldn’t last. But that album proffered the co-written truly awful “Everything” (it’s so cringe-worthy, I’m not going to post it) but also the quite wonderful:

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Surprisingly, though, as the sound got crunchier, and they had their breakthrough album with 1972’s “Piledriver”, it was Rick who provided the more peaceful moments. It’s my favourite album by them (when I was a kid, a friend of mine had the gatefold cover edition, which I didn’t; I rode my bike to his house in the next village and surreptitiously swapped them, tried to feign ignorance when he realised and cycled after me to get his copy back), not least because of the juxtaposition between the newly polished boogie with the gorgeous blues of tracks like this Parfitt co-written tune:

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All The Reasons

There’s an absolute monster on that album too, mind, another co-written by Parfitt, which showcases his incredible rhythm technique, topped off by a guitar lick nonchalantly thrown into the middle that I spent months trying to master:

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Jesus, that’s still a beast of a tune.

They rarely wrote together after that album. In a post-death statement, Rossi has described his relationship with Parfitt as: “Without doubt the longest relationship of my life: this was also the most satisfying, frustrating, creative and fluid.” Emphasis on the frustrating, I think.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to pick his best tune from every album, although it’s very tempting.

One thing I’ve always loved about the Quo is that every now and again I’m surprised when someone mentions that they know or love a song by them. Christmas 1993, I was working in the Virgin Megastore in Cardiff. It was the year when Take That’s “Babe” and Mr Blobby’s ingeniously titled “Mr Blobby” vied for the top slot at Christmas. It was not exactly a time of fine pop pomp and tuneage. But at least it wasn’t X-Factor. Yet.

I had a friend working there, Ian. I knew Ian from college, we were a few doors down from each other in the halls of residence in our first term. Ian is into skater-punk bands like The Dead Milkmen, and brief loud noise-grunt bands like Napalm Death, and Death by Milkfloat. I’m working at Virgin over Christmas because he already worked there, knew I needed work and remembered that he owed me a favour: after he finished college and had no money, I was the Entertainments Officer at the Students Union, pretended he was still a student so I could give him as much “cash in hand” work as I could wangle.

He sidled up to me one day and told me that everyone there had their area of speciality, so if someone came into the store asking after a particular record, you could summon someone who would have a rough idea of what they were after.

“I’ve told them what yours is,” he smirked.

I knew without asking that he had told all of the music nerds and cool kids who worked there that I was a Quo fan.

“S’okay,” he said, “I played them ‘Lonely Man’ and they pretty much all changed their mind about them. And you.”

Still never been sure how to take that.

I had no idea he even knew that record, but it’s possibly Parfitt’s greatest, most unrecognised, most beautiful moment. If you listen to only one of these tunes, make it this one:

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Lonely Man

That should be the end. There’s so much more I could write about Rick Parfitt – the tragedy that touched his life when his daughter, Heidi, drowned in a swimming pool aged just two; the much lighter stories of how he and Rossi were referred to as The Doctors at the recording of the Band Aid single due to their supply of narcotics which got everybody else through the session, or the (possibly apocryphal) tale of how they once, in Australia, hit a kangaroo with their tour bus and, believing it to be dead decided to dress it up in denims and have their photo taken with it, only for it to suddenly spring back to life, simply stunned, and hop off, with denim jacket – containing tour bus keys – still on it – and how much he meant to me.

There’s the moment when he butts into a decidedly sub-average album closer, injecting it with much needed rock’n’roll ethos, sound, alcohol and God knows what else for a couple of minutes…

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Breaking Away

…to the story I’ve related before about how “Mystery Song” – probably my favourite Quo song ever – came to pass (as I can attest from the prick I made of myself at Glastonbury when Oasis came on, two spoon fulls of speed do not make you think clearly…an excuse they may have used when they signed the sponsorship deal with Levi’s which explains this album sleeve)…

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Mystery Song

…and of course there’s “Whatever You Want”, but you all know that one, you don’t need me to post it again.

So there I was, Christmas Eve, rudderless, when I check Twitter and spot this:

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For the uninitiated, that couplet goes:

“She wears denim, wherever she goes

Says she’s gonna get some records by The Status Quo, oh yeah.”

And suddenly, despite the tragic loss, it’s almost okay, because I know that others – and there was a lot of outpouring of grief on my timeline, more than I had expected – and specifically another musician I love (Norman is “of Teenage Fanclub fame” in case you don’t know), who had named checked The Quo in a lyric, hadn’t been taking the piss when he did it, as I had often worried he may have been. I should have known better. I felt vindicated, in the same way as I did when I first heard that John Peel always carried a copy of “Down Down” with him when he DJ’d.

What I’m trying to say – and I don’t think he would dispute this – is that Rick always struck me as being an ordinary bloke who got lucky, right place right time, who got to be a rock legend – and like it or not, sniffy purists, that’s what he was – and was determined, having got to where he wanted to be, to live life to the full.

I have one last enduring memory I want to share with you. Indulge me for a moment longer, will you?

In December 2014, I went to see Quo play at the O2 in That London. I was sat right up in the gods, on my own as I generally am at Quo gigs – I don’t blame my mates for not wanting to fork out £50 to see a band they don’t really like – but have befriended a couple of old codgers sitting next to me. I can’t remember their names, but let’s call them Chas and Maureen for narrative purposes. (The names fit, by the way). Chas has a bad back, so he practically instructs me to dance with Maureen for the many livelier numbers his muscles can’t cope with. I’m happy to oblige; if you can’t twirl a septuagenarian around at a Quo gig, then where can you?

The band finish off, as they often do, with their cover version of Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode” and suddenly Maureen and I are aware of Chas tugging at her shoulder and pointing at the stage.

At this:

Rick Parfitt. Rock star and cool dad.

Sleep easy, mate. You’ve earned a bit of a kip, I reckon.

More soon.

The Chain #27

Evening all.

Before we get going a disclaimer: if I seem a little distracted tonight, it’s because I’m trying to accomplish that task that so many (men) find difficult – multi-tasking. For tonight, whilst writing this, I am also watching Spurs in the Champions League. So, if my demeanour takes a turn for the worst towards the end, you’ll know why. (As you can see, I’m full of optimism….).

So, to business: last week I left you with “The House of the Rising Sun” by The Animals and asked for your suggestions for songs to link to it, and, as usual, you’ve not let me down with the standard of suggestion or level of link.

As is often the case, the majority of the suggestions fell into the same categories, and this time there were four

  1. Links to the names of members of the bands
  2. Links to the word “Animal(s)”
  3. Links to the word “House”
  4. Links to…erm…the oldest profession in the world.

There are a few others which we’ll sprinkle liberally throughout the post too.

  1. Band Members Names

Now, you’ll remember that the reason we’re looking at “The House of the Rising Sun” was because one of the members of the band was Chas Chandler, who went on to manage Jimi Hendrix, the subject of last week’s post, so it only seems right that we start with a Chas related record.

Also, there wasn’t that much in the way of cheese last week; this redresses that immediately.

Over to you, Charity Chic (who is going to be annoyed that I have already started one sentence with the word “So”):

“Let’s get the cheesy one out the way at the start – Chas ‘n’ Dave with Snooker Loopy”:

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The Matchroom Mob with Chas & Dave – Snooker Loopy

Next up, is George:

“John Steel of The Animals met Alan Price in Byker. Byker Grove was a TV programme that gave us Ant and Dec…but we’ve already had Ant and Dec….I’ll start again…”

And have a word with yourself while you’re at it, George.  It was PJ and Duncan we previously featured, and as we all know, they were completely different to Ant and Dec. One of them had been tragically blinded in a bizarre paintballing accident, for a start. (“Bizarre Paintballing Accident” sounds like a suggestion from a random “New Order/Half Man Half Biscuit/Elvis Costello” title generator, doesn’t it? Actually, thinking about it, that joke works just as well with the words “New Order” and “Elvis Costello” removed from it.)

Over to Alex G from We Will Have Salad for the next name related piece of fun:

“Alan Price was in The Animals, therefore… “£20 To Get In” by Shut Up And Dance.” 

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Shut Up and Dance – £20 to Get In

Time for my first suggestion of the week. Alan Price appeared in, and composed the music for, “O Lucky Man!”, a 1973 film directed by Lindsay Anderson. Five years earlier, Anderson released arguably his most iconic film, “if….” which is also the name of a famous poem by Rudyard Kipling, but is also the name of a single culminates in a glorious sing-a-long, probably my favourite song by The Bluetones,  who make their hat-trick appearance here on The Chain.

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The Bluetones – if…

Now, here’s George with his first proper suggestion:

“Chas Chandler: a chandler was the person in charge of candles and wax, and speaking of wax leads to The Three Johns song Teenage Nightingales To Wax.”

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The Three Johns – Teenage Nightingales To Wax

But before George returns with his second suggestion, here’s Dirk from Sexyloser:

“In fact, George, it should lead to Nightmares In Wax’ ‘Black Leather’ instead, bearing in mind that Pete Burns died only a few days ago.”

A fair point. I didn’t comment or mark Burns’ passing here at the time because, well, to be honest, I’m all dead pop-starred out for this year. Still, here he is:

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Nightmares In Wax – Black Leather

Back to George for his third suggestion, not to a band member, but to their manager:

“The manager of The Animals was Mickie Most. Mickie Most set up the RAK label, and Hot Chocolate were signed to that label. And the song is Emma. Which is a fine, fine pop song.”

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Hot Chocolate – Emma

Last one for our linking band members names, and here’s The Beard:

“Alan Price had success after leaving The Animals with Simon Smith and The Amazing Dancing Bear which was also covered by The Muppets on their debut album.”

It was, and I very nearly posted their version (it’s by Scooter, which would have led to a lot of very disappointed fans of the German dance band accidentally stumbling across this place), but the Muppets will be making an appearance later, so we’ll pass on that.

Besides, I don’t think that’s the record our Bearded Buddy was looking to nominate, as he continues:

“Animal was, of course, the drum bashing Muppet. A similar sounding drummer is Philthy Animal Taylor from Motörhead. Their single No Class is in fact pure class.

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Motorhead – No Class

Which leads us rather nicely onto the next category, but before we go there: we’ve all seen over the years boy bands exploit their innocent fan base by releasing a single which featured a different member of the band on the cover? Well, who knew that such acts weren’t just restricted to the teen market….?:

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Time to sprinkle a little uncategorisable magic dust. And some more shameless nicking of ideas.

I’ll let The Great Gog, who suggested it, take over:

“The Animals also recorded We Gotta Get Out Of This Place, which was covered by (lovable?) 90s Scousers, Space. A couple of decades earlier, a French band of the same name came to our attention with the then futuristic-sounding Magic Fly.”

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Space – Magic Fly

Take a look at that sleeve. Remind you of anyone? Seems a little bit daft, a little bit punk to me. And there was me thinking Daft Punk were ground-breaking, and it turns out they’re just rehashing ideas from their fellow countrymen from the 1970s. Luckily, very few of the UK’s current pop stars follow suit, or most of them would be in prison. Maybe that should be unluckily…

By the way, that suggestion continues a trend which I’ve encountered a couple of times since I started hosting The Chain, and which Alyson identified following my Halloween night post, a condition known as “Oh so that’s what that record’s called”. (see also “House of the King” by Focus and another one that I’ve forgotten already.)

Speaking of Focus, that hasn’t been an issue for me so far, it’s 0-0 at half time, in case you’re interested.

Last one before we start looking at the sings in the Animal(s) category, and here’s The Robster from Is This The Life?:

“Japan is known as the Land of the Rising Sun. Melt-Banana is a Japanese band who have quite a few songs that mention animals. They once released a compilation called 13 Hedgehogs which included tracks called Iguana In Trouble, Turtle vs. Bunny (Who One?) and Pig To Dog. But I’m going for the fabulously-titled Bird-Like Monkey in Cave, Singing in Drops, basically because it’s the only one of the above that breaches the 2-minute mark. (There’s also Bird-Like Monky Part 2 on the same album if you prefer – it’s just seven seconds long and for that reason might be a little more bearable for those with tender ears…)”

Regular readers will know I love Japanese bands like Shonen Knife and Puffy AmiYumi, who have a knack of stumbling across the odd cracking tune every now and then. So when The Robster suggested this lot, who I’d never heard of before, I was positively moist with anticipation:

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Melt-Banana – Bird-Like Monkey In Cave, Singing In Drops

No offence, Rob, but that reminds me of this:

Let’s move on to some Animal based fun. Not that kind of fun. Purely aural fun. Not that kind of aural fun either, you mucky lot.

    2. Animals

You’ll remember that last week I had to disqualify one suggestion because, well, as far as I could establish, it was wrong. I was disappointed, as the link led to one of my favourite cover versions. I’m delighted to report that Swiss Adam from Bagging Area has taken up the challenge:

“The Animals are named after our four legged friends. On the cover of The Rockingbirds’ ‘Gradually Learning’ 12″ single the guitarist (who also plays with Edwyn Collins) is riding a horse (which is of course an animal). The Rockingbirds covered Right Said Fred’s Deeply Dippy….”

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The Rockingbirds – Deeply Dippy

“…which,” Swiss continues, “features several references to Spain in its lyrics. Spain is partly famous for its horses, as Roddy Frame noted.”

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Aztec Camera – Spanish Horses

Next, a very, very warm welcome back to Badger from When You Can’t Remember Anything, now able to type and submit his own suggestions again, and boy does he make up for lost time:

“I have three suggestions, but you don’t need to pick all three.”

Need? No. Gonna? Yes.

“Animal was the drummer in the muppets, and it was also a track from on ‘Paradise Don’t Come Cheap’ by gravel voiced hip hoppers New Kingdom. So we could have that.”

Yes, we could.

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New Kingdom – Animal

“Or, ‘Animal Nitrate’ was a poor attempt at clever wordplay by Suede but a very fine single never the less. So that…”

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Suede – Animal Nitrate

“…or finally, and perhaps best of all, another word for a bunch of animals could be Animal Collective and therefore we probably need to hear ‘Brother Sport’ by them.”

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Animal Collective – Brother Sport

And just as I finish posting my fellow Spurs’ fan Badger’s entries, we go 0-1 down. Ho hum.

Time for the return of The Robster:

“The mentions of Animal the muppet reminds me that the Muppets appeared in the video for Weezer’s ‘Keep Fishin’” in which Miss Piggy kidnaps Pat, Weezer’s drummer, and Animal has to fill in.”

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Weezer – Keep Fishin’

I can’t really let the chance to post a Weezer’s videos slide, especially when it features the Muppets:

Which leads me on to my next choice. There’s plenty of songs called “Animal”. I have deliberately picked one of the worst.

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Def Leppard – Animal

That’s enough Animal based shenanigans. To category 3!

      3. House

Plenty of these, and I am now taking no notice of the television, treating it like you do the nutter on the bus, or any one you don’t know on the Tube: ignore it, maybe it’ll go away.

Here’s SWC from When You Can’t Remember Anything to kick things off:

“I’m going to down the house route. Just saying. Not sure in which direction that will take me yet. Probably ‘Rock Da House’ by who ever did that. Or ‘The Jack that House Built’”. Perhaps.”

Since I’m trying to distract myself from the football (I can’t just turn it off, obviously), you can have both whilst you think about it:

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The Beatmasters feat The Cookie Crew – Rok Da House

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Jack ‘N’ Chill – The Jack That House Built

Which must mean it’s my turn again. This, a song I have posted before, a long time ago, is one of the finest, most often-forgotten singles from the early 1980s:

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Big Sound Authority – This House

Seems there weren’t as many of these as I thought, for here’s SWC again, although he does have two for us:

“My suggestion based on…an hour rifling through old copies of ‘Deep Heat’ is ‘Hip House’ by DJ Fast Eddie…”:

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DJ Fast Eddie – Hip House

“…If you can’t find that then probably House of Jealous Lovers by The Rapture.”

More than happy to post that, one of the grooviest indie records to come out in the last…Jesus, was this thirteen years ago????

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The Rapture – House of Jealous Lovers

So more sprinkles. Here’s Alyson from What’s It All About, Alfie?:

“Eric Burdon always looked grumpy whenever I saw him perform or in photographs. Decided it was maybe because he was also moonlighting as an ironmonger (the jackets in the HOTSR cover are just like those worn in our local shop when I was a youngster). Whenever your dad asked them for anything in the shop it was never on a shelf and they always had to go upstairs to the storeroom for it. Led me to thinking of Upstairs at Eric’s by Yazoo and I think my favourite from that album was Don’t Go.”

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Yazoo – Don’t Go

For our American readers, that’s Yazz to you, which must have been very confusing when the other Yazz and her Plastic Population appeared a few years later.

Hold up, The Robster’s back, and he’s only going to suggest something else by Melt-Banana….:

“I’ve reassessed my choice of Melt-Banana track and thought maybe we should have something that vaguely resembles a song. Which led me to another compilation the band released called Return Of 13 Hedgehogs. It contained their cover of Toots & The Maytals’ ‘Monkey Man’. Certainly a mite more tuneful than ‘Bird-Like Monkey…’”

Remember earlier when I said I liked Shonen Knife and Puffy AmiYumi, who have a knack of stumbling across the odd cracking tune every now and then? Well it turns out that Melt-Banana do too, it’s just they’ve stumbled over one that isn’t one of their own:

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Melt-Banana – Monkey Man

And on to the fourth and final category:

     4. The Oldest Profession in the World

You don’t need me to explain what that means, do you? You do? Erm, can you have a bash Charity Chic?

“The House of the Rising Sun was a place of ill repute. I’m told that such establishments are also known as brothels or bordellos.  So ‘Start Wearing Purple’ by Gogol Bordello please!”

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Gogol Bordello – Start Wearing Purple

It’s funny how the menfolk who make suggestions here tend to feign ignorance when it comes to “being told” what kind of house is being described in The House of the Rising Sun. Take Dirk for example:

“Alright, apparently [see? – Ed] said house in the song really seems to be a brothel, a bagnio, a bordello, or, if you’d rather, a whorehouse. And this reminds me of Wreckless Eric’s ‘Semaphore Signals’. “Why’s this?”, you might be asking yourself – and quite rightly so! The truth of the matter is that for years and years I misheard the lyrics of ‘Semaphore Signals’ a little bit (blame it on my poor English, but hey – could you Englanders sing along to all of Tocotronic’s fantastic debut album? Nah, I bet your German is not good enough, right? I can though!). Either way, it was an embarrassing moment when I finally found out, albeit 15 years or so too late, that Eric says in the chorus “Messages of love down to her house” and not “Messages of love from the whorehouse”.

Still, he should have done. Perhaps. ‘Cos, whenever the tune comes up in the car when I’m on me way to work in the morning these days, I have a picture in my brain of half naked hookers waving little flags … and it always brings a stupid grin to my face!

P.S.: the Peel-Session version is marginally better than the album version.”

Mental note to self: stay off of the autobahn in the morning.

Here’s the Peel Session version, complete with a sleeve where Wreckless Eric’s name has inexplicably been mis-spelt (it’s entirely possible it’s a different Wreckless Erik, but there’s can’t be two, can there?):

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Wreckless Eric – Semaphore Signals (Peel Session)

Guys, guys…just because you know what a brothel is, it doesn’t mean you’ve been to one. Have a bit more pride on your knowledge.

Take kuttowski AKA Walter from A Few Good Times In My Life, for example, back for a second week and he’s not messing about:

“The fact that in this house the oldest profession was practiced it leads me to two songs about prostitution.” There. He’s said it. “First was Blondie’s X-Offender where she first played with her sexual attitude in front of the band.”

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Blondie – X Offender

What’s the other one, kottowski/Walter?

“The other one is ‘Killer Queen’ by Queen. Mercury made no bones about the song’s meaning, explaining, ‘It’s about a high class call girl. I’m trying to say that classy people can be whores as well. That’s what the song is about, though I’d prefer people to put their interpretation on it’.”

We don’t really need to bother, now you’ve told us, do we Freddie?

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Queen – Killer Queen

Time that we heard from Rol of My Top Ten fame:

“Sticking with the brothel theme, I have two suggestions this week. (Both taken from My Top Ten Prostitute Songs, sorry.)

Elvis Costello – Love For Sale (or the Nina Simone version, if you prefer). Cole Porter rules.”

Now. I have looked everywhere for a copy of Nina Simone performing “Love for Sale”. I can’t find it, or any reference it. But rather than disqualifying a suggestion for the second week running, and in the unlikely event that you may have just got them mixed up somehow, you can have Billie Holliday’s version instead:

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Billie Holiday – Love For Sale

PS – Rol, if you can point me in the direction of Nina’s version, I’d love to hear it!

Luckily, there can be no confusion about who his next suggestion is by:

“Flight of the Conchords – You Don’t Have To Be A Prostitute (Sting has a lot to answer for.)”

There’s a further Muppet link here, too of course: Bret McKenzie won an the Best Original Song Oscar for “Man or Muppet” from their (the Muppets, not the Flights) 2011 comeback move.

Anyway, taken from, shall we say, their difficult second album, which in my opinion is patchy at best (the first album is essential listening), this is one of the better tracks:

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Flight of the Conchords – You Don’t Have To Be A Prostitute

Which just about wraps it up for the prostitution related songs, except, well just in case you don’t get the Sting reference, I found this when I was trying to track down the Nina Simone version of Love for Sale:

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Idina Menzel – Love For Sale/Roxanne

Now, I have no idea who Idina Menzel is, or rather I didn’t until I decided to add her to this post. She’s an actress, best know for appearing in “Glee” and more recently for being Queen Elsa in “Frozen” which apparently means it is her that sings that “Let it Go” song which seems to get referenced everywhere these days, but which I’ve never heard, nor do I ever want to, thanks very much.

Anyway, the reason I’ve included her version is for the audience reaction, which at the start of “Love for Sale”, a Cole Porter composition, is absolutely nothing, before a smattering of applause and whooping (it’s recorded in America) welcomes the second line of “Roxanne”, like the crowd have been stirred from their slumber by something they kinda recognise.

Oh, wait. I have one more song from this theme. As regular readers know, I love this band, particularly their early stuff, and this is a song which is right up there amongst my favourite ever tunes by them. Wikipedia says the song “concerns a young man’s encounter with a prostitute”, which explains why they called it “Mystery Song”. Although “Song Concerning a Young Man’s Encounter with a Prostitute” would have been a great title too, should Colorblind James Experience ever decide to cover it.

Anyway, put simply, this rocks, it rocks more than anything else on this page. So there.

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Status Quo – Mystery Song

Incidentally, there’s a vaguely amusing story behind that song. That came out in 1976, when the band were at the height of their fame, and also well on the road to the drug addiction which made lead singer Francis Rossi’s septum fall out. When they were in the studio working on their “Blue For You” album, Rossi laced Rick Parfitt’s cup of tea with “an inordinate amount” of speed, not expecting him to drink it. You can work out how the rest of the story goes: he drank the lot, oblivious to the contents, began playing this riff and continued to do so until the rest of them left the studio, leaving him in there all night. On their return the following day, he was still sitting in the same place, playing the same riff, some twelve hours later. “I just couldn’t go wrong,” Parfitt recalls, “everywhere my fingers went on the fretboard it sounded fantastic.” Drugs, see kids. Don’t do them. Especially speed. Anyone who has read my article about what happened at Glastonbury the year I found a bag of the stuff will know I know exactly what I’m talking about.

Okay we’re on the home straight now, just some more sprinkles of magic dust to go, and to start off this final section, can we all give a very warm Chain Gang welcome to Rigid Digit from Stuff & Nonsense (and anyone with a picture of Rigsby as their avatar is alright by me):

“Approaching his 50th Birthday, John Otway asked his fans for a second hit single to follow 1977s “Really Free”. The chosen track – Bunsen Burner – nicked the music from Disco Inferno, and Otway fashioned a lyric after helping with his daughters chemistry homework. The link to House Of The Rising Sun? HOTRS was the B-Side (or second track on CD single) – the track featured 900 fans (all credited on the record sleeve) in a glorious ‘call and response'”

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John Otway – Bunsen Burner

And since Rigid mentioned B-Sides, here’s The Swede from Unthough of, though, somehow with something which is as far removed from Otway as one could get:

“The b-side of ‘The House of the Rising Sun’ was a cover of ‘Talkin’ ’bout You’. I’d like to suggest the Ray Charles original.”

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Ray Charles – Talkin’ ‘Bout You

Here’s The Beard, back for a second stab:

“Can I have another go, please? Ta. Be warned, this one is more than a little convoluted…”

Excellent. The Beard’s links are becoming my favourite links here each week, if not for the songs, then the reason he gives. As close to Comment Showboating as anyone has managed this week (apart from my quite brilliant even if I do say so myself link to The Bluetones). Time for the rest of you to up your game, I think.

“The Rising Sun is a pub on Beverley Road in Hull. Grafton Street is a thoroughfare, one end of which comes out on Beverley Road. Down Grafton Street is The Grafton, the pub where the video for Happy Hour by The Housemartins was filmed. Phill Jupitus appears in the video. He was also a captain on Never Mind the Buzzcocks. Howard Devoto left Buzzcocks to form Magazine. A Song From Under The Floorboards by Magazine is fanruddytastic.”

Ain’t that the truth:

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Magazine – A Song From Under The Floorboards

And that would be that, had The Beard’s suggestion not prompted a couple of further ideas from Rol, which I’ll allow, as they’re the next step on a couple of references The Beard makes. Plus, Rol is as brief as brief can be (although, just to be contrary, I’m posting them in the different order to suggested, just because his first suggestion sounds more like an end of the show track than his second to me):

“1.”

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The National – The Geese Of Beverly Road

and

“2.”

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The Beautiful South – The Rising Up of Grafton Street

Which means all that’s left is to reveal the next song in the official Chain, and the reason behind it, and see if we all go “Well, mine was better than that….” as we do most weeks:

So: here’s the reason:

“…The House of the Rising Sun was in New Orleans. And Dr John comes from New Orleans, therefore…”

…this is the song:

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27. Dr. John – Such A Night

Well, mine were way…oh, okay fair enough.

So folks, let me have your suggestions of songs which link to Such a Night by Dr John via the Comments page below, along with a description of how you have linked from one t’other.

See you next week, if not before.

More soon.

The Chain #24

Ordinarily, I start every post on The Chain by recapping what we do here, what record we’re linking to this week, and then say I’d better crack on as we’ve got loads to get through.

Now whilst it is true that we have got an awful lot of tunes this week, there’s not as many as perhaps there could be, and that’s because one of our regular Chain Gang contributors is conspicuous by his absence for a second week running and is, I hear, rather unwell. I mean, I haven’t actually been presented with a sick note excusing him from participating, but that’s what I hear.

So, Badger: get well soon mate, and this week’s post is dedicated to you.

Last week’s record was “Radio, Radio” by Elvis Costello & The Attractions, a song which cropped up a couple of months ago on my Radio-themed “Friday Night Music Club” post, and so I was anticipating a few that I had chosen back then would resurface again here. Not a bit of it, which is either indicative of either the wide range of musical tastes you guys and girls cover, or of how many bad records I chose. Or both.

So to kick things off, one of my suggestions which didn’t quite make the cut when I was writing that “Friday Night…” post, mostly because it doesn’t have the word “Radio” in it’s title. But it seems an appropriate place for us to start:

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Charlie Dore – Pilot of the Airwaves

Onwards, then, to some of your suggestions, and one final piece of housework. George: sorry about this, but there at least five records you’re not going to enjoy this week.

Here’s Dirk from sexyloser:

“Great start to link not one, but four different Clash tunes to, much to the dismay of George, I would suspect (I l.o.v.e. this!): ‘Capital Radio One’….”

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The Clash – Capital Radio One

…and we’ll check back with Dirk throughout today’s post to go through the rest of them.

But first, more Clash-related shenanigans from Unthought of, Though, Somehow‘s The Swede:

“‘Radio Radio’ is taken from the LP ‘This Year’s Model’. If your car happens to be this year’s model (at least if it was registered in the UK between March & August), the age identifier portion of the number plate would be 16. In 1980 The Clash promoted the ‘London Calling’ LP with the 16 Tons Tour, every night of which would see the band walk on stage to ‘Sixteen Tons’ by Tennessee Ernie Ford.”

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Tennessee Ernie Ford – Sixteen Tons

Next up, here’s Swiss Adam from Bagging Area with one of those suggestions where we get three for the price of one:

“Clearly you need to go to Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers’ ‘Roadrunner’, with his radio on…”

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Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers – Roadrunner

“…And Joy Division who danced to the radio in Transmission….”

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Joy Division – Transmission

“…And Half Man Half Biscuit who had Joy Division Oven Gloves.”

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Half Man Half Biscuit – Joy Division Oven Gloves

Actually, there’s a double link for that one, as it was the subject of a Facebook campaign to get it to Number 6 in the UK Singles charts in an effort to save the BBC’s radio station 6 Music. It actually managed to scale to the giddy heights of Number 56, but the station survived, thankfully.

Time to check back in with Dirk, whose next Clash/Radio song is, perhaps unsurprisingly:

“…‘Capital Radio Two’…”

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The Clash – Capital Radio Two

Whenever someone mentions Capital Radio, I’m always reminded of one of their DJs, who also worked the decks on Radio 1 for a while: David ‘Kid’ Jensen. I am still allowed to mention him, aren’t I? He’s not one of the bad ones, right? Good. Then I can legitimately play this:

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The Pretenders – Kid

But enough of my suggestions (by which I mean, I’ll have some more later): time for Alex G, who this week writes his suggestion like this:

“The recent Edinburgh Fringe revival of 80s comedy show “Radio Active” has got me listening to the old shows again. One of the episodes is called “The Radio Radio Programme” and as usual it includes one of Phil Pope’s musical parodies, his target in that particular episode being “Sledgehammer” by Peter Gabriel. Not one of PP’s best efforts, but reason enough to suggest linking to the original “Sledgehammer” by the actual Peter Gabriel.”

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Peter Gabriel – Sledgehammer

I could, at this point, post that ground-breaking video, but we’ve all seen that, so instead I thought I’d take a step back and post a couple of Phil Pope’s better parodies. I think you’ll recognise his targets on both of these:

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The HeeBeeGeeBees – Meaningless Songs

Oh, and this, which I don’t find in the slightest bit amusing:

How dare they.

Alyson from What’s It All About, Alfie? leaps to my their defence, by proving that sounds nothing like them:

“Elvis Costello’s next release after ‘Radio Radio’ was ‘Oliver’s Army’ which led me to think of the Status Quo song ‘In The Army Now’.”

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Status Quo – In The Army Now

Alyson – and indeed her other half Jamie – will be back in a bit. When you see what one of them suggests, you’ll be wishing they had stopped at Quo.

In the meantime, here’s Charity Chic from Charity Chic Music, who you may recall was very close to suggesting the official next record in the chain last week, and therefore almost bagged himself some invaluable (by which I mean of no value whatsoever) bonus points:

“From ‘Radio Radio’ to the excellent ‘Mexican Radio’ by Wall of Voodoo…”

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Wall Of Voodoo – Mexican Radio

CC’s not done yet though:

“…whose lead singer was Stan Ridgway who gave us the less excellent Camouflage”

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Stan Ridgway – Camouflage

“Suspect I won’t be troubling the scorers this week…” he sadly concludes.

You’re right, CC, you won’t. But you haven’t nominated the worst record of the week. Has he, Alyson?

Nor has The Beard, although he gave me a bit of a fright with the direction of this week’s suggestion:

“The lyrics to ‘Radio Radio’ make reference to late night listening. Circa 1992 I heard Annie Lennox played back to back in the small hours on Radio One, something that haunts me to this day. One of the songs played was Why. Why by Carly Simon is infinitely better.”

Deep breaths, everyone. We’re okay. He didn’t go there. The Annie Alarm remains untroubled.

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Carly Simon – Why

“…as is Nobody Does It Better by the same artist”, continues our (presumably) Bearded Buddy:

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Carly Simon – Nobody Does it Better

Ordinarily, I might only allow one song by the same artist to be nominated by the one person, but I’m going to let it slide here for two reasons. Firstly, “Nobody Does It Better” is my favourite Bond theme ever (most of the time; sometimes it’s “Live and Let Die”). Secondly…well…have you ever seen the episode in the second series of “I’m Alan Partridge” where our late night radio host describes the opening sequence of “The Spy Who Loved Me”, to which “Nobody…” is the theme, as the VHS copy he intended to watch in his static home has been inadvertently taped over with “America’s Strongest Man”? And have you ever wondered how accurate his commentary is? Wonder no longer:

Speaking of songs that I wouldn’t normally allow, here’s The Great Gog:

“‘Radio Radio’ features the same word repeated in its title as does another ECATA ditty, ‘Party Party’ from the film of the same name. There are obviously lots of other examples of this type of song-titling, but that one seemed the most appropriate.”

Under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t allow a song by the same artist as the record we are linking to (not that it’s ever happened before, mind). On this occasion, you just get away with it on the grounds of the repetition of words theme.

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Elvis Costello & The Attractions – Party Party

The film is bloody awful, mind.

GG has a point: there are lots of records which employ repetition in their title, and to prove it, here’s Kay:

“Using the theme of repetition – Radio Radio – I thought of Tonight, Tonight by The Smashing Pumpkins.”

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The Smashing Pumpkins – Tonight, Tonight

In fact, you could also have this one, which I pointed out to Kay I was surprised she hadn’t suggested, given that’s it’s by her favourite group, that it has a title with the same word repeated in it, and even has the word ‘repetition’…erm…repeated quite a lot in it:

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Hot Chip – Over and Over

I don’t think Kay has stopped kicking herself for missing that yet.

Time to check back on Dirk and see where he is with his Clash-a-thon:

“…‘This is Radio Clash’…”

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The Clash – This Is Radio Clash

Thanks Dirk, see you in a bit!

Time for The Robster from Is This The Life?:

“Seeing as there’s a lack of cheese so far… How about – playing on the Attractions – ‘Opposites Attract’ by Paula Abdul. Appalling, I know, but this isn’t about taste, is it?”

It certainly isn’t, but you, too, need not be concerned about the quality levels not having dipped enough just yet. Eh, Alyson?

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Paula Abdul – Opposites Attract

Regardless, “I feel the need to right that wrong,” The Robster continues, “so my other offering is Kirsty MacColl’s ‘There’s A Guy Works Down The Chip Shop Swears He’s Elvis’.”

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Kirsty MacColl – There’s a Guy Works Down The Chip Shop Swears He’s Elvis

Right. Let me take a step back, survey the carnage, and see who I haven’t mentioned yet.

George. Of course, George.

“Older people than myself, such as Charity Chic and The Swede, might prefer to use the word wireless instead of radio. In the tv programme Not The Nine O’Clock News, they once did a song with the lyrics “On the road you must be brave and tireless, on the road you can listen to the wireless”. I think that song is called I Like Trucking.”

Close, George. My recollection is that on the show it was referred to as “I Like Trucking”, but when the cash-in accompanying album “Hedgehog Sandwich” was released, the title had been shortened to just “Trucking”:

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Not The Nine O’Clock News – Trucking

Alyson’s back, with her hubby in tow this time:

“I have an entry first from the other half Jamie, who decided that if there are two radios the sound will be in stereo which led him to think of the Stereophonics who released a track called Vegas Two Times from their ‘Just Enough Education to Perform’ album. Bit of a double link with the “stereo” and the “two times” both relating to Radio Radio.”

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Stereophonics – Vegas Two Times

What with me having lived in Wales for 20 years, at the time that the Stereophonics came to prominence, you could be forgiven for thinking I love them.

You’d be wrong though.

Did you ever have that thing happen to you, when you’re in the middle of a conversation and someone suddenly sticks their head round the corner, and says something which completely makes you lose your thread? Here’s Swiss Adam again, who’s located another unexpected item in his Bagging Area:

“R.E.M.’s Radio Song too”

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R.E.M. – Radio Song

Now where was I…? Oh, never mind. Can’t have been important.

Back over to Dirk’s Clash Corner for the final time now. What are you listening to now, Dirk?

“… ‘Radio Clash’!!!”

Of course you are. And now, so are we (minus George).

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The Clash – Radio Clash

Here comes Rol from My Top Ten:

I worked in the radio industry for 23 years of my life. Radio Radio is one of my all-time favourite songs because of the lines…

‘And the radio is in the hands
Of such a lot of fools
Trying to anaesthetize
The way that you feel’

When I started working in radio, back in the late 80s, my ambition was to be a jock because then I’d get to pick my own music. A couple of years later, presenter choice was gone from local radio and my ambitions of being a DJ were over. I stayed in the industry for a further 20 years in other roles because it was an easy job and I got lots of freebies from the record library: basically, all the good stuff they wouldn’t ever play because it didn’t “test well” with the great unwashed.

All of which would usually lead me to suggest the same track I selected last week: Rex Bob Lowenstein by Mark Germino & The Sluggers. But as I already had that one, can I instead go with a very similar tale…”

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Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers – The Last DJ

George is back!

“I have a chain that results in a Bruce Springsteen song…” he says, slightly curiously, given that on these very pages he has named Broooce as the other act, along with The Clash, that he dislikes.

Despite much encouragement, he declined to provide us with the link, declaring he would “rather stick pins in my eyes”, which seems a bit extreme. I’d recommend ear plugs as a far more effective way to avoid hearing something, George. You’re welcome.

Instead, he comes up with this:

“From Elvis Costello to Elvis Perkins (son of Anthony Perkins the actor) and from his album Ash Wednesday the song Ash Wednesday.”

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Elvis Perkins – Ash Wednesday

A couple more folks returning from earlier now. Here’s The Robster:

“We got here by way of the name of Elvis Costello’s record label. There’a a reggae label called Easy Star Records that has a house band, The Easy Star All-Stars. Along with an astounding selection of guest vocalists, they’ve released a series of excellent tribute albums over the years, one of which was ‘Radiodread’, a reggae tribute to ‘OK Computer’ by Radiohead. I could suggest any number of songs from it (‘Lucky’ featuring the legendary Frankie Paul; ‘Let Down’ featuring the uber-legendary Toots & The Maytals), but I’m going to plump for ‘No Surprises’ featuring The Meditations.”

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Easy Star All-Stars – No Surprises (Feat. The Meditations)

And here’s Charity Chic:

“I was going to offer Radio Gaga by Queen but even I would not stoop that low.  The Frank Sidebottom version on the other hand …”

This one?

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Frank Sidebottom – Radio Ga Ga

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that’s the worst record we’re featuring this week, right? No. No it isn’t. For Frank Sidebottom was a genius. You know he was, he really, really was.

I suppose we should let Dirk have a non Clash request, right?

“What I really would like to hear is The Members – ‘Phone-In Show’ from their debut album, simply because I haven’t heard it for ages and can’t be arsed to search for the LP.”

Well Dirk, I could be arsed to search for it, but couldn’t find the bloody thing. So instead, here’s their version of ‘Phone-In Show’ taken from one of their Peel Sessions instead:

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The Members – Phone-In Show (Peel Session)

You may have noticed that it’s not just Badger who is conspicuous by his absence this week. Where has his When You Can’t Remember Anything… partner in crime S-WC got to? Well, he’s in the middle of moving house, but he did take time out from packing up boxes to suggest this:

“I don’t really have a lot of time to explain but my suggestion is ‘Radio Ladio’ by Metronomy.”

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Metronomy – Radio Ladio

Doesn’t really need much explanation, to be honest, that one SWC. Anyway, hope you have your broadband sorted in time to get a suggestion in for next week!

Rol’s back, with a suggestion to protect George’s eyes from becoming pin cushions:

“…my second choice would be State Trooper by Bruce…

Radio’s jammed up with talk show stations
Just talk talk talk talk talk
Till you lose your patience…”

I think maybe George has suffered enough this week.

Only joking. Course he hasn’t. Here’s the Trentemoller remix of it, which might make it a tad more palatable:

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Bruce Springsteen – State Trooper (Trentemoller Mix)

Okay, where next. Ah yes. Can’t really put this off any longer. Welcome back Alyson:

“I think I have probably come up with something that would win cheesiest song EVER in a poll of polls. Yes, from Elvis Costello to Abbott and Costello (the more mature chain-ganger will remember them) to Russ Abbot who had a mid ’80s hit with Atmosphere (as in he liked a party with one).”

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Russ Abbot – Atmosphere

Let’s be honest, it was only a matter of time before I got round to posting this. There’s so much to make you cringe here: the reference to being “at the dancing party”  – was that ever a thing?; the desperate attempt to be hip by referencing Frankie Goes to Hollywood; the frankly rather seedy looking video where Russ saunters through a nightclub full of dressed-for-the-80s bright young things, looking like the sort of person your mother used to warn you about.

You’ve never seen the video, you say? Then get your laughing gear round this:

See what they did there? It’s so disappointing that it doesn’t quite work.

Maybe it does if you do it the other way round?

Better. Much better.

Okay, to round things off this week, one last suggestion from me.

In 2006, Basement Jaxx released their fourth album “Crazy Itch Radio”, from which I’ve chosen this little beauty:

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Basement Jaxx – Take Me Back To Your House

Which just leaves us with the small matter of what the official song in the link was. And normally I’m a little bit disparaging about the tune they select, not so much for the song, but for the reason it was suggested/selected.

But credit where credit’s due, this week’s is a double-linker:

“Elvis Costello sings on the Joni Mitchell covers album [A Tribute to Joni Mitchell]…”

..and although he doesn’t sing this one, the choice of Joni tune doubles up here:

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24. Joni Mitchell – You Turn Me On, I’m a Radio

And that, as they say, whoever they may be, is that.

Your suggestions please, via the Comments section down below, for records that can be linked to “You Turn Me On, I’m a Radio” by Joni Mitchell, along with a brief description of your linking logic.

Same time next week?

(More soon.)

No Such Thing as a Guilty Pleasure

Today, I broke a record.

In the last week, I’ve had more hits on my blog than in any previous week.

I’m not really a man for statistics, probably because I quoted Mark Twain’s “There are lies, damned lies and statistics” to prove a point so many times when I was writing scholarly essays at the end of the 1980s, I now believe none of them.

So, let me say from the get go: I anticipate that this post will bring a record low in views or downloads.

For whilst Swiss Adam over at Bagging Area was off watching Peter Hook on Friday, a week earlier I was watching Status Quo play an Acquostic gig (that’s their awful pun, not mine) at the Union Chapel in Islington.

As you may know, Quo released an album of acoustic versions of some of their songs at the back end of 2014, and it was an unexpected smash hit. The problem with unexpected smash hits is that record labels tend to want a follow up, and Quo – reluctantly, so they say – are obliging (there’s an Aquoustic Volume II coming soon).

The other problem is that, because they weren’t expecting it to be such a hit, they pretty much shot their bolt with the first album, and included versions of all the big hits: “Rockin’ All Over The World”, “Whatever You Want”, “Down, Down” etc etc etc – so where to go next?

To my mind, the first album had focussed a little too much on the famous songs, including songs which didn’t really benefit from acoustic make-overs, so I was particularly excited by the idea of them unearthing further songs from their back catalogue and giving them the acoustic treatment. For me, early album tracks, like “Claudie” from 1973’s “Hello!” album, which they revisited on the first acoustic album, had been a triumph, so I was hoping for more of the same.

So, much as I loved the gig and it’s compact, snug surroundings, I was a little disappointed that they only played two songs from the new album. A misjudgement on their part, I think: this was a strongly partisan crowd who would have known whatever they wanted (see what I did there?) to pluck out and perform.

The two songs in question were “That’s a Fact”, the original being on 1976’s “Blue For You” album, and “Hold You Back” from 1977’s “Rockin’ All Over the World” album, and it’s the latter that I want to focus on here.

Hold You Back” has always been a live favourite, and on Friday night it prompted the audience to get up on their feet and have a bit of a dance. Have you tried dancing in a pew? It’s not easy.

Like much from the first acoustic album, “Hold You Back” benefits from a revisit and revamp, turning it into – and I now this will sound odd – the Scottish reel it always wanted to be. Here’s someone’s hand held footage of it, taken from a far better vantage point than I managed to secure:

There was, however, an elephant in the room: the absence of original member Rick Parfitt.

Rick has had more than his fair share of health problems recently, and I read this weekend that, because of them, he has probably played his last ever gig.

There was a notable absence of songs that Parfitt performed the lead vocal on at the gig, hence, to my disappointment, there was no “Mystery Song”. If ever a greater song was born from someone putting a couple of teaspoons of speed into someone else’s tea, I’m yet to hear it. To my mind, it’s the greatest song in their back catalogue, and I know I’m not alone in thinking that

Luckily, they have Andy Bown in their ranks, a talented multi-instrumentalist in his own rights, with a pre-Quo history (yes, such a time exists) to make others pale into insignificance, and it was he that stepped up to sing “Whatever You Want” (which he co-wrote with Parfitt).

Anyway, you can find various hand-held clips of the Union Chapel gig on You Tube if you so desire. Here, though, is their recent gig for Radio 2 at Hyde Park, which is essentially the same set, just played to a lot more people:

And here is an mp3 of them playing “Hold You Back” at the same gig (with apologies for the Radio 2 i-dent at the start, not that I expect any of you to listen to it…)

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Status Quo – Hold You Back (Radio 2 Live in Hyde Park 2016)

I await the obligatory “Oh dear” comment.

More soon.

Which Reminds Me…

I don’t know about you, but anytime I hear the name “Gordon”, which cropped up in my last post (linked to Sting, but every cloud, eh?), I think of this:

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Jilted John – Jilted John

Still one of the greatest records ever made, in my book.

And the name of one of my favourite blogs is taken from it. Do yourself a favour and pay Crying All The Way To The Chip Shop a visit.

The first time I remember hearing “Jilted John”, I would have been 17 or so, and it was played to me by my old chum Richard, who owned it (or at least had access to it) on 7″ single. (Coincidentally, on the same afternoon, Richie also played me Springsteen’s “The River”, again the first time I’d heard it, and which featured in this week’s Friday Night Music Club.) I owe this man a lot (Richie, not Broooce, as you will see soon enough if you stick around).

Immediately after playing me that, he flipped the single over and, with the words, “Well if you like that, you’ll love this…” he played me the B-side, and proceeded to act out the song in what I can only describe as being in a Rik Mayall stylee. Consequentially, whenever anyone mentions “Jilted John” (after I’ve corrected them for calling it “Gordon Is A Moron”, or course) I point them in the direction of this:

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Jilted John – Going Steady

I think I love that song even more than “Jilted John” itself, probably due to Richie’s impeccable miming capabilities.

It’s the lines “I used to think that girls didn’t like me, but Sharon’s a girl, and she loves me! She says I’m dead sexy and butch, and much better looking than Starsky or Hutch” that get me every time. Mostly as I remember the mime that accompanied it. Our little secret, Richie.

Seriously, if you don’t know “Going Steady” give it a listen. Have I ever let you down so far? (Don’t answer that!)

There’s a long standing tradition in pop music of response records, by which I mean acts recording a record which is supposed to act as a reply  to the original. And “Jilted John” attracted one such song; purportedly recorded by the Julie and Gordon mentioned in the original:

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Julie & Gordon – Gordon’s Not A Moron

Hmm. Methinks the lady doth protest too loud.

And when I say long standing, I mean it. The earliest example dates back to 1902 and this (apologies for the sound quality and the lack of a picture sleeve but these came out over a hundred years ago, what do you expect..???):

Arthur Collins – Bill Bailey, Won’t You Please Come Home

…and the response (curiously, also by Arthur Collins, who seems to have some sort of schizophrenic condition):

Arthur Collins – I Wonder Why Bill Bailey Don’t Come Home

Going off at a tangent for a moment, I can’t really let that pass without mentioning the other Bill Bailey, which affords me the opportunity to post this, possibly the most glorious and affectionate ribbing/tribute you’ll ever hear:

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Billy Bragg & Bill Bailey – Unisex Chip Shop (Live)

Back on track, there are more famous records which inspired a response:

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Big Mama Thornton – Hound Dog

..which, long before some pelvis swivelling chap called Elvis recorded his own version, prompted this:

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Rufus Thomas Jr. – Bear Cat

But my personal favourite is this, from 1952:

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Hank Thompson – The Wild Side Of Life

…which prompted this:

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Kitty Wells – It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels

and also, since I’ve not mentioned them for a while, this:

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Status Quo – Wild Side Of Life

I sense a new thread forming….

More soon.

Friday Night Music Club

Regular visitors to the shores of Dubious Taste will know that I compile these weekly Friday Night playlists based on a couple of tunes that I hear during my daily commute to and from work. Sometimes, my permanently-on-shuffle iPod will play me something which instantly makes me think of a theme for the week, or which reminds me of another song, or just gives me a couple of songs which sound good next together.

Sometimes, and it’s a rare event, the stars align and all three happen. Such was the case with this week’s playlist. Since I only had four days in work this week, this was an absolute blessing.

So, shall we get cracking?

Twice a year, the clocks change in the UK. The event is always preceded by many conversations of the “Wait – is that the good one or the bad one?” variety. People here in the UK will often complain when the clocks go forward (the “bad one”), moaning that they have an hour less in bed on Saturday night/Sunday morning. I’ve never understood this. Unless you have somewhere to be on a Sunday, why on earth would you change the clocks before you get out of bed on the Sunday? Just stay in bed until whatever time you like, get up, and then change the clocks. Lose an hour of your day instead of your night, if you like night so much.

And for those who are not in the UK and have no idea what I’m banging on about…I really can’t be bothered to explain why we change the time twice a year, other than because we can. Go Google it if you’re that interested.

Anyway, Tuesday morning started badly for me. I had gone to great lengths to remind all of my work colleagues that the clocks were to go forward on Easter Sunday, had done the same when visiting my parents over the weekend, and then wouldn’t you just know it, totally forgot to change my own alarm clock when I got home on Monday, which led me to over sleep on Tuesday morning. A mad scramble to shower and get to work if not on time, then not too late, followed. (Luckily my boss had done something similar, sending me a text to apologise as she was also running late, having missed her train.)

My iPod had me covered though. Here’s what it decided to play me:

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204. Dusty Springfield – I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself

When your day starts so badly that you’re still getting dressed as you’re waiting at the bus stop (my apologies to the neighbours: that wasn’t a wardrobe malfunction you witnessed, it was a life malfunction, like that makes it any better), the sound of Dusty breathing into your ears certainly settles the nerves.

And then my iPod gave me this:

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205. Teenage Fanclub – I Need Direction

Admittedly, not one of my favourites by The Fannies, but I sensed a certain neediness in my iPods selections, a sense which was only confirmed by the next choice:

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206. Peter Frampton – Show Me The Way

I don’t feel I know him well enough to call him Pete.

Frampton first found fame in the late 1960s as a member of The Herd, where he was dubbed “the Face of 68” (that’s the year, not a slightly disappointing sexual position), which led to the band attracting a somewhat teen audience, which caused issues with the less pretty members of the band. (Also in the band: one Andy Bown, who has been an official member of The Quo ever since 1977. Read into that what you will).

They split shortly afterwards, and Frampton was recruited into Humble Pie, Steve Marriott’s first post-Small Faces project. Despite some modicum of success, Frampton quit in 1971 to go solo.

But despite his early success as part of the aforementioned bands, Frampton’s first three solo albums tanked, and it wasn’t until the release of “Frampton Comes Alive!” in 1976 that his fortunes finally changed. This is not the sort of career path that many artists take: I can’t think of another act who released three consecutive albums to an increasingly lukewarm reaction, and who then decided, with his record label’s blessing, the way to turn things round was to release a live album (although I do wonder if he’d signed a four album deal and this was just a way of fulfilling his contractual obligations).

But work it did, in no small part to his use of the “talk box” on today’s choice, that odd “wah-wah-wah-wah-wah” noise that forms the solo part of the song.

And yes, I know we’re all supposed to laugh at Frampton and poke fun at his records, but “Show Me The Way” fulfills one of the criteria which allows us to like such things, namely: has a band we all agree are cool done a cover version which is not seemingly ironic? The answer here is a resounding “yes”:

Anyway, by now, a theme for my playlist had been identified: being lost, needing help, and then getting advice, instructions or orders. I set about, as I always do, trying to think of songs which fit my self-imposed remit.

Which brings me on to the next track. A couple of weeks ago, I got sent one of those things on Facebook where someone asks you to name your favourite bands, songs, etc; this one was asking me to name 12 albums which had “stayed with me”, which I took to mean albums that meant as much to me now as when I bought them, rather than albums which have become like an unwelcome lodger, sleeping on the sofa, eating crisps, and leaving floaters in the toilet. Although, Lord knows I have plenty of records that fit that description.

One of my choices was this one:

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207. The Housemartins – Over There

I loved The Housemartins, and I’m slightly surprised this is the first song I’ve posted by them. Seriously, what’s not to love about a band who are modest enough to refer to themselves as “the fourth best band from Hull”, who had a penchant for wearing rather fetching cardigans, who were often asked in interviews about their collection of crisp packets, who spawned Fatboy Slim and The Beautiful South, and who also had a drummer who in 1993 was sentenced to spend six years at Her Majesty’s Pleasure for assaulting his former business associate with an axe and setting fire to his house. Three times.

Next up, from the days when 7″ singles didn’t even have picture sleeves, and when Smokey Robinson was still just Bill “Smokey” Robinson, and his band were still just The Miracles and not Smokey Robinson and The Miracles:

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208. The Miracles – Way Over There

Dusty and Smokey in the same post. I spoil you, I really do. I may also have just invented two new hand puppets to go with Sooty and Sweep.

Moving back to the 1980s now, and an absolute classic, and one which had every kid at my school attempted to do both the rap and the rock parts at school discos:

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209. Run-DMC [feat. Aerosmith] – Walk This Way

By the time this came out, we were used to rap records sampling rock records, but this was the first time we had heard two acts from the different spheres actually performing together.

So, whilst we’re fusing musical styles in  way that would make Richard Vranch jealous (obscure 1980s television reference for you there) here’s some folksters covering some rock:

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210. The Folksmen – Start Me Up

For those of you not in the know, “A Mighty Wind” is a film brought to you by the same folks as one of the greatest, funniest movies ever: “This is Spinal Tap”. I doubt there is a single music blogger out there who doesn’t adore the endlessly quotable “…Spinal Tap” and “A Mighty Wind”, though less quotable than “…Spinal Tap” does for the world of folk what “…Spinal Tap” did for the world of rock: it affectionately mocks it.

Indeed, The Folksmen are none other Jerry Palter (played by Michael McKean, or David St Hubbins in “…Spinal Tap”), Alan Barrows (Christopher Guest/Nigel Tufnel) and Mark Shubb (Harry Shearer/Derek Smalls). If you haven’t watched it, I urge you to rectify that as soon as possible. I love it almost, but not quite, as much as I love “This is Spinal Tap”, which is bloody loads.

Next, a similarly folky sounding bunch who the internet seems to know very little about. From their one and only album, originally released in 1985 on Go! Discs, but recently picked up and re-released by Cherry Red (Gawd bless ’em) and available here, ladies and gents I give you The Boothill Foot-Tappers:

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211. The Boothill Foot-Tappers – Get Your Feet Out Of My Shoes

I remember reading about them in Smash Hits and being immediately intrigued, but found it difficult to actually track down anything by them. A couple of years later, after we had finished our shift in the motorway restaurant we both had the misfortune to work at, my boss Jane and I would often go to her house, have a couple of drinks, play some records and have a bit of a sing-song (anyone who has ever lived with me knows that this is one of my most basic pleasures in life, and actually is the conception of the Friday Night Music Club).

On one such occasion, I was flicking through her vinyl collection (not a euphemism) and found she had a copy of this album. We popped it on, and I immediately adored it. I left her flat clutching a copy on a C-90 cassette, along with her vinyl copy of Kate Bush’s “The Kick Inside” album, which she told me I could keep for reasons that I can’t quite recall. I still have them both to this day, though I haven’t seen or heard from Jane in about 20 years or so. Which tells you quite a bit about me, I guess.

For some reason, something tells me that Elvis Costello had something to do with them (producer…?), though I may be getting mixed up with his involvement with The Pogues’ “Rum Sodomy & The Lash” album, and being Mr Cait O’Riordan of early Pogues fame (although in 2008 she denied ever having been married to Costello, saying “We weren’t married…It was a kind of Muslim ‘I divorce you’ kind of thing.”)

Or maybe O’Riordan herself is the link, as in my attempts to find something, anything about them (other than numerous references to them being a cow-punk band who only ever released one album…thanks, knew that already!) I find that in 1983 Darryl Hunt intended to ask The Boothill’s Wendy May to join his jazz band “Pride of the Cross”, but when he mentioned this to O’Riordan she apparently laughed and told him that she ought to do it. I dunno. It’s a real head-scratcher and no mistake. Answers on a postcard please (or in the Comments Section would be better).

I digress. Let’s have another tune.

Some of you may recall that I’m in the process of adding the first 75 “Now…!” albums onto my iPod and the next choice was the first that it randomly gave me from the second volume:

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212. Matt Bianco – Get Out Of Your Lazy Bed

Do you remember back in the 1980s, when Saturday morning television wasn’t an endless stream of cookery programmes, but were actually a load of shows aimed at keeping kids preoccupied for a couple of hours? Often, the shows would have pop stars of the day in the studio, and they would be subjected to a phone-in. This was revolutionary at the time, the first time that the general public had been allowed to interact with celebrities, a precursor to Twitter if you will.

People of a certain age will know exactly where I’m going with this:

Priceless.

There’s only one way to follow that, from the 9th “Now..!” volume:

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213. 5 Star – Stay Out Of My Life

People of a certain age will know exactly where I’m going with this too:

Equally priceless.

Moving swiftly on, to a chap who needs no introduction:

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214. Tom Jones – Help Yourself

He knew Elvis Presley, you know. Keeps it quiet, though. Rarely mentions it.

Something a little more contemporary next:

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215. Lykke Li – Get Some

Thought my earlier mention of Andy Bown was going to be the only Quo reference this week? Think again (with obligatory take-down busting mis-spelling):

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216. Quaters Toe – Whatever You Want

Now, you can all laugh about my love of all things Quo, but it turns out even I have limits. In 2008, I found out just what those limits were: a duet with German techno outfit Scooter.

Jesus wept, I’d forgotten just how  horrendous that is. If “Walk This Way” is the finest example of rock and rap working sublimely then that is the polar opposite. My ears, my ears! Is it possible to unhear something?

When I started seeking out songs which fitted this week’s theme I initially came up with about ten. As I started writing this post, loads more came to mind, far too many to cover in just one week. So, you lucky people, you get Part 2 next week. I actually prefer next week’s. That’s what I believe is known as “a teaser”, though having just posted the above video you could be forgiven for never darkening my doorstep again.

I can’t possibly leave you with that last monstrosity ringing in your ears, so this seems an appropriate record to finish on:

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217. The Smiths – I Started Something I Couldn’t Finish

Deep breaths, that’s the way. And relax. Normality restored.

More so