R.I.P. Rick

Long time readers will know that Christmas Eve is the day I usually mark the passing of Status Quo’s Rick Parfitt by posting the only Quo Christmas record.

But since I’m ignoring Christmas this year, 2020 is a little different. There will be no Christmas records here.

Instead, long-time reader of this, and since he stopped blogging himself, everyone else’s music blog, George, got in touch with me recently to tell me that a Quo record I posted in a recent edition of The Chain was now his second favourite Quo tune.

Prior to that, he didn’t have a second favourite Quo tune. High praise indeed. I mean, my work here truly is done.

If memory serves me correctly from previous conversations with George, this is (the album version) of his favourite, written by Parfitt under…um….let’s say difficult circumstances (read: spoonful of amphetamine put in his tea as “a joke”, consumed).

I’m not going to condone drug use, obviously, but if that’s how they arrived at this belter, then perhaps they should have tried it more often.

Double/Triple denim ahoy!

Merry Christmas George (and to all of you that are actually having one).

More soon.

The Chain #50

It’s Saturday morning, and that can mean only one thing round Dubious Towers: Rant or Chain?

Any hope of building suspense is already ruined by the title of course. But believe me, after the humiliation of the press shots of Shagger Johnson looking at his most bumblingly unkempt on Thursday evening, and what his utter failure means for all of us here in the UK, it was by no means a foregone conclusion as to what would appear here this morning. Anyway, we’ve got all weekend until the announcement we’re all now expecting, so there’s plenty of time for me to cobble something together.

So. The Chain. We ended last time with this as the source record:

We were a little thinner on the ground than usual this time around, which I wasn’t especially surprised about, because there’s not a lot to work with there, is there? So hats off to all of you that contributed.

As you know, what I try to do with these is to bring your suggestions together into, if not an actual narrative, then some sort of cohesive whole, so that it’s not just me going “And here’s so-and-so’s suggestions”. And that’s what I’m going to try to do this time, but as many of the songs were related to other songs with years in the title, I figured I’d slip those in every now and then, in their true chronological order.

But first, a little tune, the title of which perfectly describes that Pumpkins source song title:

Look, I know I say this quite a lot, but not all Quo records are of the chugga-chugga three chord boogie variety. A Year is taken from their Piledriver album where they had almost permanently settled on their winning formula, but this is a far more bluesy affair, with a bridge which nods back to their psychedelic days. Seriously, give it a listen.

I’ll be using any songs which simply link to the word “year” as an alarm to warn you it’s about time we went time travelling. If you think about it, it’s a really clever way for me to crowbar all of the ones I thought of into the narrative, and isn’t a bit crap at all.

Ok, so it’s time for some time travel, and we’ll head back to the earliest of the yearly-titled suggestions. Care to hop aboard?

And we’re heading back to 1959 for this bit of flamboyant gothness, which, just as A Year doesn’t sound like Quo, so this doesn’t sound like a Sister of Mercy record, it sounds more like a Jim Steinman composition (checks this: it isn’t, but I had no idea that Sisters mega-hit This Corrosion is a Steinman song, and he has a co-writing credit on Dominion/Mother Russia. Seems he rubbed off on Andrew Eldritch. (Not like that, you mucky lot!)):

Anyway, that was suggested by…erm…me, too. (Note: not #MeToo). I suppose I’d better let some of you lot play, hadn’t I?

Ok, so let’s kick off proper with songs which can be linked to the band name, and for a starter, here’s Rol from My Top Ten:

“Pumpkins are gourds.

So I’ll go with The Gourds and their cover of Gin n Juice by Snoop Dogg. (Or Lion. Or whatever he’s calling himself this week.)”

Takeaway salesman?

“You could also have Cucumber Castle by The Bee Gees,” Rol continues, “although it is pretty awful (and I like the Bee Gees).”

Rol is right, of course. I like the Bee Gees too. And that really is not good.

As an aside, for those of you old enough to remember them, was it just me that thought Barry Gibb looked like the blue one (a lion?) from 1970s kids TV show Animal Kwackers?

And you never saw them together, did you? (as I believe it is customary to say when making this kind of joke.)

Anyway, sorry Rol. You were saying?

“Melons are also gourds. Apparently. Which might explain why The Smashing Pumpkins came up with one of the worst pun album titles ever created.”

He is referring, of course, to the album from which our source record is lifted, Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness. But watch yourself Rol, now you’ve mentioned puns, I have a nasty feeling about where you’re going with all this, since way back in The Chain #32 this very topic came up and I ventured The Beach Boys’ Gourd Only Knows and Teenage Fanclub’s Gourd Knows It’s True and absolutely nobody noticed.

“And then there is…” Rol innocently continues:

Phew. No puns then.

Whilst we’re on all matters gourd-related, here’s the ever reliable Stevie from Charity Chic Music:

“Getting in early with The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead by XTC a song I once heard played at a funeral.”

This, I think, deserves some further explanation. Was the coffin much bigger at the top than the bottom? Did the cremation take ages and start from a single, strategically placed candle? I think the world needs to know.

God, I love a good harmonica. I sense a new idea for a (probably quite brief) series.

And since Rol mentioned the album name from whence our source was ripped, here’s The Great Gog:

“I’ll go with the fact that 1979 is taken from the album Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness, and linger on the last word albeit with a different adjective. So that will be The Saw Doctors and Exhilarating Sadness.”

Whoa! What was that and where did it come from?

That, good people, was the sound of young people making music. I know, seems a bit out of place round here, doesn’t it? It was also an artiste which links to the word “year”, which means it’s time to hop in our time travelling machine which looks remarkably like a more famous fictional one but which, for legal reasons, is called something completely different. I don’t know. Haven’t given it much thought.

How about: This Is Travelling in Time and Space? That’ll do.

Hop into TITTS and we’ll be off.

(I am 51 years old.)

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And we’re landing back in 1966, for the first of several suggestions from Pat from PhonicPat who gives us our obligatory Half Man Half Biscuit song of the month (and a bit):

Since we’re already in Pat’s charming company, he’s given us another couple of songs which link to the source band’s name, thankfully devoid of gourd-related puns:

…and…

Allow me to squeeze another couple in. Firstly, here’s legendary jazz pianist Fats Waller:

The really rather ace:

The considerably less ace:

And if I’m chucking a load of Smash references in, I may as well throw a Pump in too:

…which leads me to this piece of genius:

**TIME TRAVEL KLAXON ALERT **

Here we go:

And here we are in 1969, the year when all the cool people were born, and I’ll leave you in the hands of babylotti for a while:

“Immediately, I don’t know why, but 1979 made me think of 1969 by The Stooges…”

“…then 1970 by them too….”

Whoa there cowboy! Let’s finish off 1969 before we go gallivanting across the years.

And here’s Pat (who also suggested The Stooges) with another suggestion:

When I was feverishly searching t’internet to try and find some more tunes, I stumbled across this rather surprising entry:

And I don’t suppose we can really leave 1969 without giving this an airing, even if it is rather well known that the digits in the title don’t actually refer to a year, but to something altogether much ruder:

And since we’re on the edge of the 1970s, we may as well let babylotti finish what he started with his Stooges talk and drag us into a slightly more recent age:

“…then 1970 by them too….”

“…then I remembered the great cover version of that song by Flesh for Lulu.”

This one?

Here’s a thing. About fifteen years ago, Rocco from Flesh For Lulu was in a fly-on-the-wall property documentary called A Place in Spain: Costa Chaos. It turned out to be one of those excruciating, uncomfortable shows that should go down in legend, but it seems only me, and me good mate Val who I was living with at the time and who watched this with me, remember it.

Actually, not quite us two. For fortuitously, someone has posted most of the episodes on YouTube (I think one is missing), but if you have time to spare, then I’d thoroughly recommend you spend it watching this (first episode only included here):

Seriously, when the commentary says things like “But neither of them seems to have considered how they’re going to pay for it”, you know you’re watching car crash telly. Quite how I’ve managed to get writing this finished with such a distraction, I’m not sure.

Over now to a couple of suggestions linked to Smashing Pumpkins main man Billy Corgan, and first off the boat is Hal:

“Billy reputedly had a fairly healthy self-regard, which reminded me of the opening couplet to ‘San Francisco Fat’ by personae non gratae NOFX

And in a similar vein, here’s Swiss Adam from baggingarea:

“Smashing Pumpkins singer and professional misery Billy Corgan played on New Order’s 2001 comeback album, on the song Turn My Way- which as songs go on that album is pretty good and better than anything on the follow up Waiting For The Siren’s Call.”

He’s not wrong:

He also co-wrote this (Billy Corgan, not Swiss Adam):

Let’s shift ever so briefly to 1973, just so I can post this, which is ruddy magnificent:

And just as I thought I was running out of suggestions, here Devonian with three on the bounce:

“Remember how Smashing Pumpkins had to add a “The” to make sure we all understood that they were referring to the excellence of said squashes, rather than the act of setting about them with hammers? That made me think of songs by other bands with similarly enthusiastic names, such as… da-da-da-DAH…”:

…and….

“…and…”

Here’s Pat, back with another related suggestion:

“The Sonic Youth version of The Simpsons theme with the link The Smashing Pumpkins, The Homeralooza episode which included the following conversation

Billy Corgan: Billy Corgan, Smashing Pumpkins.

Homer: Homer Simpson, smiling politely.”

And so on we march to 1979, and I’ll hand over the reins to Rigid Digit:

“1979 could be a very broad subject. Arguably, I could offer a list of the best songs of 1979 (and there were many – it was a fine fine year in the world of Pop).

A personal memory – 1979 is the first year I really started taking note of pop music, and on an episode of Top Of The Pops saw Dave Edmunds performing Girls Talk – that says more to me about 1979 than Alan Sunderland scoring a last minute winner for Arsenal.”

Sorry, you lost me with that last bit. But here’s Dave anyway:

“Written in 1978, Tom Robinson had a go at guessing the state of the nation 18 months into the future. Not all (any?) of his predictions came true – and certainly not the one about Spurs beating Arsenal (they lost 5 Nil).”

Times have changed, matey, what happened last weekend…? Oh, yes, this:

Just saying.

The Beard doesn’t know when to stop using an analogy, so I’ll let it slide:

“Alan Sunderland scored the winning goal for Arsenal in the 1979 FA Cup Final.”

Don’t make me post that football clip again….

“Field Music are the best band from Sunderland.”

Better.

“The Noisy Days Are Over by, erm, Field Music.”

And here’s C from Sun Dried Sparrows:

“There’s the band Death From Above 1979, although I believe they often drop the 1979 bit from their moniker, it is a bit of a mouthful after all… anyway, this leads me to think of ‘Let’s Make Love And Listen To Death From Above’ by CSS, fronted by the marvellously named Lovefoxxx.”

I thought Lovefoxxx was your dating profile name?

It would be rude at this point not to feature some actual Death From Above 1979, so you can decide whether or not you wish to make love to them:

Poor old Willie, having to churn out albums of covers to pay that tax debt back.

But wait: that’s a **TIME TRAVEL KLAXON ALERT **

Which takes us to our last few records, all suggested by yours truly:

…and this odd little thing I stumbled across:

..and this, from Pat:

…and finally, this, which I was very surprised that Swiss Adam didn’t suggest:

I say “and finally”, but what I actually mean is “and finally from the past”, because what’s the point in having a saucily-named time travelling machine if we can’t go into the future as well as the past?

Off we pop:

To here:

Which just about wraps it up.

Oh wait. Here’s Rol again:

“And then there’s Little Red Courgette, obviously.”

Obviously.

Which just leaves me to announce what the actual next record in the real Chain is, and it’s this:

“The pumpkin patch featured in the cartoon strip ‘Peanuts’ which featured Charlie Brown, so…:”

Which just leaves me to ask for your suggestions for songs which link to Charlie Brown by The Coasters, to be submitted via either the Comments function on this page, along with a brief explanation of your link, or if you prefer anonymity that you ultimately won’t be afforded, by email to dubioustaste26@gmail.com

More soon.

Late Night Stargazing

I was reminded of this song when writing yesterday’s post about politically appropriated songs.

Not that this was one, but because of the mention of my all-too-brief period working at the Virgin Megastore in Cardiff.

I had landed the job – a Christmas position – because of my old mate Ian, who I knew from college, and with whom I’ve sadly lost touch. We had met because we lived on the same floor in the halls of residence in our first term; later, when I rose to the giddy heights of Social Secretary, I taught him to DJ and gave him work doing that and other (paid) menial tasks, which should have stopped when he finished his course, but he hung around for a while, and nobody ever asked, so I carried on giving him a bit of cash-in-hand work as often as I could. Shhhh!

Getting me the job at Virgin was him paying me back, and that was, well, really quite lovely of him, because it got me back to Cardiff, and into a job that I really loved. What music geek wouldn’t love being in an environment where you could constantly show off your knowledge?

You know that bit in High Fidelity, where Jack Black’s character berates a father for wanting to buy Stevie Wonder’s I Just Called To Say I Love You for his daughter? This bit (excuse the quality):

Well, I did something very similar when somebody asked me for the Mr Blobby single. Which earned a standing ovation from my workmates. Ithankyou.

Anyway, shortly after I started working there, Ian sidled up to me and said: “I’m really sorry, but I’ve told them all that you love Quo.” I recognised this as being not so much an apology, more of a warning.

And sure enough, one of the bosses approached me shortly afterwards and sneered “So…I hear you’re a Status Quo fan…?”

And look, I know how they’re viewed – three chords, all the songs sound the same – and that’s why whilst I may mention them in passing, I rarely post anything by them.

But here’s how I see it: every band has a sound, and when they try something different, their fanbase is always up in arms. Nobody complains about every Coldplay record sounding the same, do they? Ok, that’s a bad example.

But bear with me here.

“Yeh,” I replied, “Up to a point.”

This was not the expected answer, it seems.

“What point?” he asked.

Anyone who knows me, knows not to get me started, because I could quite literally go on for hours. But he asked, right?

“Well, I think by the 80s they’d pretty much become a pastiche of themselves. I’d probably say the cut-off point, where it all started to go dodgy, was around 1976, but there’s the occasional thing I like after that.”

I could see him glaze over.

“Do you want examples?” I asked.

He didn’t.

After we had closed, as we were cashing up and tidying up the racks, I was very aware that Ian had some input into what was played, for tonight’s tune was pumped out, and got an enthusiastic reaction, especially from the Jethro Tull fans, which I’m not sure is much of an endorsement.

Ian told me afterwards that people kept asking him what the record was, and he just answered: “Ask Jez,” Turned out he remembered me playing it to him once and he loved it, so he dug it out and gave it a spin that night, in a show of solidarity.

It doesn’t sound anything like you expect Quo to sound, so do me a favour and push the barriers back and give it a go will you?

Ian Drake from Northampton: if you’re out there, say hello.

More soon.

The Chain #48

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

U2 – Beautiful Day

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

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

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

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

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

But of course!

Kirsty MacColl – Days

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

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

New Order – Blue Monday

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

Foals – Sunday

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

Anyway, carry on.

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

The Cure – Friday I’m In Love

“…as Fridays are really quite beautiful.”

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

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

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

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

This:

Whigfield – Saturday Night

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

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

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

Over to Martin from New Amusements next:

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

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

The Kinks – Days

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

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

Too late! You’ve mentioned them now!

Dollar – Hand Held in Black and White

Sorry. As you were.

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

Skids – Working For The Yankee Dollar

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

The Men They Couldn’t Hang – Greenback Dollar

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

Don’t mind if I do:

Lou Reed – Perfect Day

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

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

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

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

Kirsty MacColl – The End Of A Perfect Day

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

PJ Harvey – A Perfect Day Elise

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

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

The Lightning Seeds – The Life Of Riley

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

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

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

“…and one more football song:”

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

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

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

He’s not wrong:

Peaking Lights – Beautiful Dub

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

Marilyn Manson – The Beautiful People

And then there’s this:

Suede – Beautiful Ones

And:

Not forgetting:

Neil Diamond – Beautiful Noise

Somebody stop me!

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

The Smiths – Hand In Glove (7” Version)

Anyone else care to add to the list?

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

eels – Beautiful Freak

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

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

Effin’ and jeffin’ alert:

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

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

George Baker Selection – Paloma Blanca

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

Of course not. How dare you.

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

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

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

Louvin Brothers – Must You Throw Dirt In My Face

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Janelle Monáe – Dirty Computer (feat. Brian Wilson)

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

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

Keep it light, Aly, for Gawd’s sake:

Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark – Enola Gay

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

Predictably, this lot:

Status Quo – Paper Plane

And, perhaps less predictably, this:

M.I.A. – Paper Planes

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

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

The B-52’s – Mesopotamia

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

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

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

“…but then I thought…”

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

“…to be a cooler track.”

Hmm. Not sure about that, because of this:

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

Super Furry Animals – She’s Got Spies

And this, too:

Pulp – I Spy

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

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

The House of Love – Christine

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

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

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

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

U96 – Das Boot

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

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

Back to you, Robster:

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

Half Man Half Biscuit – For What Is Chatteris

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

Right, who’s left?

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

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

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

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

U2 – With or Without You

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

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

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

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

Where were we? Ah yes: Grandmaster Flash:

Much better.

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

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

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

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

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

Never in doubt:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More soon.

Saturday Live!

I was working on the next instalment in The Chain last night (yes, it will be with you soon) when I fell into a bit of a You Tube worm hole.

Happens to the best of us, I’m sure.

Anyway, as a result I have nothing to post here this morning.

Oh, go on then. If you insist.

This (amongst many others) is what I was listening to, the band everyone said I would grow out of loving when I was a kid (I never did) and a track from one of the albums my buddies bought me on vinyl for my 50th last year:

Status Quo – Big Fat Mama (Live)

And that’s why The Chain isn’t finished yet.

More soon.

I’m Not Too Keen on Mondays

You can blame The Swede of Unthought of, somehow, though fame for this one, for he left me a rather lovely comment on one of my weekend posts:

Apropos of nothing, I thought of you the other evening Jez, when Marc Riley played Quo’s ‘Down Down’ on his 6Music show – it sounded utterly, breathtakingly fantastic coming out of the radio.”

Well, yes, that’s because it’s an utterly, breathtakingly fantastic record.

I’ve written before about how Riley and I share a philosophy: if a record’s great then it’s great, irrespective of who it’s by. Although that post was in reference to Britney Spears’ Toxic, which you can probably expect to turn up here some time soon.

See, I know most of you all turn your noses up whenever I mention The Quo, but I bet you all revere John Peel, and Down Down was one of the singles he kept in his trusty box of 7″, as evidenced here (35 minutes in, if you don’t believe me):

I’d recommend you watch all of that, by the way. If you’re not in bits when The Fall/The Undertones/Peel’s death pops up, then I’m not sure you’re human.

Personally, I can’t think of a finer way to start the week than with this, the album version, around a minute and a half longer than the single version that you know and probably hate.

Even then it fades out and you get the impression that The Frantic Four probably just kept on chugging along for a good few hours after the tape had stopped capturing it:

Status Quo – Down Down

All you “they only know three chords” charlatans: listen to that and try playing it with just three chords. I lost count but there’s at least fifteen in there.

Peel knew.

More soon.

Goodbye To My Little Brother (Part 2)

Llyr

Okay. Deep breaths.

This is the story of me and the dude up there that I have affectionately referred to as ‘my little brother’ for years now. When I finally publish this, I’ll have lost track of how many drafts I’ll have written, hated and discarded.

What I hope is that what follows does my best friend Llŷr justice.

What I know is that I will have been a howling mess of snot and tears on several points through it.

It’s a story that I wish I’d written ages ago, after he gave me his blessing to write about him, and while he was still around to actually read it.

Whilst I’ve mentioned Llŷr many times, until my last post I’d never mentioned his actual illness, because I knew he didn’t want it to define him, and I wanted to respect that.

I want to remember him how he was too, not how he was at the end.

I got his consent two years ago, when we shared a hotel room at a friend’s wedding. He’d want me to tell you it was twin beds, not a double, but it wasn’t. He’d definitely want me to stress there were no shenanigans though, no “those aren’t pillows!” moments:

The wedding just happened to fall on the same weekend as his 40th birthday. Typically Llŷr refused to let us properly celebrate his milestone birthday as he didn’t want to steal the limelight from the happy couple.

But him reaching forty was something to celebrate, more so than anyone else I knew, and so I started writing this post.

But much as I tried to, I couldn’t find the right words.

Nothing seemed appropriate, didn’t do him justice, just didn’t seem right. So I put it on the back burner, resolving to return to it once I’d had chance to mull things over some more.

And now it’s too late for him to read it.

On Friday I went to his memorial service and then the reception. Note: not a wake. As you might expect, there were many tears, hugs and embraces, but also many smiles and laughs amid much swapping of stories and memories; there was singing, there was dancing, there was a lot of drinking, oh-so-many glasses clinked together in his name.

He would have loved it.

*****

So I thought I’d explain how Llŷr and I became such good friends. Truth be told, we were thrown together by circumstance.

I had been living with a bloke I knew from college days, who found he was about to be a father and decided that my bedroom would be much better deployed as a nursery, which definitely did not require a sponging, chain-smoking lodger residing in it.

Hint taken, I promptly moved out, and found myself a flat in the Grangetown area of Cardiff. It was the first time I’d ever lived alone, and I greatly enjoyed being able to eat what I wanted when I wanted without disapproving looks from housemates, or watch whatever I liked on TV. And if I wanted to watch TV in just my underwear, I could, without anyone either judging me or dry-wretching at the sight in the same way as you are at the image now in your mind.

Around the same time, Llŷr found himself in a similar situation; he had been lodging with Richie, a chap who I had worked with years earlier in the video shop, who now worked at the same insurance company as we did, and who also suddenly found fathership was impending. Llŷr moved out and got himself a flat on the same side of the river as me and which just so happened to be about five minutes walk from my flat.

We knew nobody else who lived in this area of Cardiff, and so consequently, united in our ostricisation, we started spending more and more time in each other’s company, usually at his flat, partly because it had central heating (a fact I had failed to consider when moving into mine), partly because Llŷr didn’t live under the permanent shadow of the electricity going off as I did (as I had to pre-pay via a meter which only accepted discontinued fifty pence pieces which I had to purchase from my landlord), but mostly because Llŷr had an absolute treasure trove of a collection of popular culture for us to feast on.

Firstly, a mountain of vinyl, some of the most ludicrous but still somehow cool, records you’ve ever seen. A gatefold Bay City Rollers album, you say? Ordinarily, not fussed. But somehow, imbued with Llŷr’s consent, such things seemed cool.

Secondly, an absolute wall of video tapes, all crammed with stuff he had taped off the TV. This was manna from heaven for me, and most nights I was there I would just sit back, drink beer and smoke whilst he fast forwarded through another VHS to find the next good bit he had captured.

Now, I’ve always been a bit of a hoarder myself when it comes to popular culture, but my VHS taped-from-TV collection pretty much ends at a load of clips from Top of the Pops or any other music show. Llŷr, however, took it to another level.

I will never forget the night that we drunkenly watched – several times – footage from The Big Breakfast he had taped, where some blokes from shouty-not-very-good-indie band Reef played that game where you place your forehead on a broom, run round it several times then try to run a short obstacle course, inevitably falling over in a dizzy mess. The night ended with both of us taking it in turns to lay on our back in his living room, trying (with an impressive degree of success) to light our own beery farts.

I had just turned thirty and I felt like a teenager again.

Llŷr suggested us sharing a place and initially I was resistant. I was thirty, and had finally got a flat of my own. To start sharing again felt like a step backwards.

And then the bills at my flat started becoming a bit much, and suddenly it felt like a good idea to be splitting them with someone.

We went to visit a couple of female friends of ours, who rented a ground-floor flat back in Cathays, the cooler studenty-area of Cardiff. They just happened to be moving out and were looking for someone to take the flat off their hands. Llŷr floated the idea of us sharing a flat again, and this time I jumped at it.

We became inseparable. On the rare occasions that he went out without me, he would come home telling me everyone had been asking where I was, and I found the reverse to be true. We very briefly discussed that perhaps everyone thought we were “a couple”, dismissed the idea, and decided that we didn’t really care what anyone else thought anyway.

The flat, pristine and beautiful when we moved in, fell into decay because we behaved exactly as you would expect two lazy blokes to behave. Shall we do a bit of housekeeping, or watch some more utter tat on the telly? Telly it is!

I’ll never forget the night a couple of female friends came back to ours for a drink; one went to the bathroom, and when she hadn’t returned some twenty minutes later and we went to check she was okay, we found her scrubbing our bath with bleach because it was so grim. Llŷr’s reaction: “Oh, have we got bleach?”, which pretty much sums up our distant relationship with keeping the flat clean.

Initially we just had the sofa in the living room – part of the features and fittings when we moved in – to sit on, but at some point we added to the furniture by retrieving a knackered old armchair somebody had thrown out onto the street. Under cover of darkness, we dragged it into the flat one night only to find that the springs had all gone; still, stick an upturned washing-up bowl (it wasn’t required for any other purpose in the flat of filth) underneath it and it worked just fine. But Llŷr made it very clear: this had been my idea, so the scuzzy armchair was mine, the sofa was his. Fair enough.

While we lived together, my re-education really began.

It was Llŷr who reminded me, in my early thirties, that it’s absolutely fine to like pop records, and there’s nothing to be embarrassed about in doing so.

See that “There’s No Such Thing As A Guilty Pleasure” tagline? It simply wouldn’t be there were it not for Llŷr.

I’ll go further. Without that little seed sown, I wouldn’t be writing this and you wouldn’t be reading it. He told me many times that he really loved that I do this, regularly left grateful comments or sent me encouraging messages about something I’d posted, and once told me that he wanted to start writing something himself: you know, like younger brothers often do, to impress their older sibling.

It may seem glib or inappropriate to post tunes now, but everyone who knew him would agree that Llŷr was all about the music. There’s a multitude of songs I could post which will always remind me of him. It’s impossible to choose just one.

OK. Here’s one. To start.

One night in a bar in Cardiff, Llŷr got into an argument with a friend who dared to be dismissive of Kelly Clarkson, of all people. Llŷr wasn’t having that: just because she’d won American Idol did not automatically mean that her songs were awful. He was right, of course. This is a belter:

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Kelly Clarkson – Since U Been Gone

And then there’s the night, in a different bar, when he defended his love for Energy 52‘s ‘Cafe Del Mar‘ to another long-standing friend by pointing out that it really didn’t matter if a tune had no words, as long it sounded great and didn’t sound like whoever the friend’s favourite song was by. If ever there was a tune which makes me think of Llŷr, that’s it – and I know I’m not alone: when I posted that tune back in June 2018, after hearing that Llŷr’s time was limited, I was contacted by our friend Jon, a true friend. He had understood the bat-signal, and wanted to know what was happening.

Anyway. All of that makes Llŷr sound a right argumentative bugger, but he really wasn’t. Passionate, yes. Persuasive, yes. And generally right.

Llŷr and I lived together for four or five years, and I can only think of one occasion that we argued in all that time. The disputed subject was telling: the BBC had announced the winner of American Idol before ITV had shown the final; he couldn’t believe the Beeb had broken that bond of trust, whilst I couldn’t believe he thought the BBC wouldn’t do whatever it deemed necessary to prevent their audience from watching a rival channel, even if it was only ITV2. I still think I was right, but I wish I hadn’t been.

We were once asked to DJ for an hour or so at a friend’s wedding. Suffering a crisis of confidence, I suggested that he did the actual DJ’ing bit and I’d just pass him the records he wanted. Llŷr was having none of it: he might play the records, but we would jointly decide what was played.

We agreed on this, and the dance floor went wild:

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Girls Aloud – Love Machine

The actual DJ for the night gave us his business card and asked us to call him if we ever wanted any work. We never did. We didn’t need him.

Then there’s the night my parents visited Cardiff, and stayed at our flat. We all went out to eat, came back to the flat, and after my Mum had gone to bed, Llŷr and my Dad bonded over obscure records by none other than (who else?) Edward Woodward. Llŷr had something by him on vinyl. Of course he did.

About a week later, I received a parcel through the post. It was a load of Max Boyce records my Dad owned on vinyl, burnt off onto CDs. The post-it note attached made it very clear that they were not meant for me, but for Llŷr. They’d discussed him at length, apparently.

That was the effect he had on people: they immediately wanted to share things with him and be part of his story.

He was perfectly happy to admit when he liked something that you really wouldn’t have expected him to. The term “eclectic music taste” was probably devised to describe him. Which also meant that if you told him you liked a band that he didn’t like, or knew little about, he would want to understand the appeal, and would go off and investigate for himself.

We never quite saw eye-to-eye on R.E.M., who I love but he was generally indifferent to. They played Cardiff’s Millenium Stadium on their tour to promote their not-very-good Around The Sun album. We went to see them, me as the uber-fan, he as the curious outsider. He’d done his research of the band’s discography in advance, which had led him to one tune by them that he really loved.

Llŷr (at the gig, in between songs): Do you reckon they’ll play it, Jez?

Me: Nah, they won’t play that one. They never do.

Llŷr: Are you sure, Jez?

Me: Yup. Won’t happen.

Llŷr: A tenner says they do.

Me: Deal.

Llŷr: (as the band crashed into the opening chords of the song in question): Shall we stop at a cash machine on the way home?

I later found out that in advance of the gig, he had checked the set-list for all of the gigs the band had already done on the tour, and knew bloody well they’d be playing it.

This one:

r-395082-1332541344_jpeg

R.E.M. – These Days

(I learned at the memorial service on Friday that he’d played a very similar prank on his younger sister, Sian, when they were kids, this time tricking her out of her pocket-money by getting her to bet on a horse in the Grand National, a race where he miraculously managed to pick the winner. Unbeknownst to Sian, the race had happened hours earlier, he already knew the result, whilst she was betting on the highlights.)

Another case in point: he and Hel (his older sister, also often mentioned on these pages) went to Glastonbury in 2009, a year I didn’t manage to get a ticket for.

2009 just happened to be the year that my much beloved Status Quo played on the Sunday morning. The two of them went to watch them (because they knew I’d be really annoyed with them if they didn’t), and I got a text from Llŷr at some point that day telling me that they’d played Mean Girl, a song that, whilst he wasn’t at all bothered about anything else they’d ever done, he had found for himself and loved.

My response, articulately put and spread over a number of texts, was along the lines of:

“They never play that! They never played that. Did they play that? Tell me you’re joking. No. They didn’t play that.”

Come the edited highlights on BBC4 later that day, I had to eat my proverbial hat.

You think I’d learn, wouldn’t you? Still, at least no money changed hands this time.

He never let me forget that. Ever. You know, like smart ass little brothers don’t let you forget stuff like that.

Sorry, I have to post this while I have a little cry:

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Status Quo – Mean Girl

Just to be clear: I’m not claiming that as a result of knowing me he suddenly loved R.E.M. and Status Quo. Far from it: he saw I loved them, gave them a listen, and decided he liked precisely one song by each.

Then there was the time that I won two tickets to go and see Gene play at Clwb Ifor Bach; initially he was dismissive as Sian had been a member of their fan club when she was much younger (so he told me, citation needed) and he had – as older brothers are supposed to – mercilessly ripped the piss out of her for it.

But he came with me anyway, and left the gig buzzing, telling me that his opinion had changed, asking to borrow all of my Gene records, but making me swear I’d never tell Sian, of his conversion. Well, I managed it until now…

There’s one song by Gene the title of which would be sadly, horribly appropriate for me to post here, but I can’t bear to listen to it, so instead a song the opening lines of which we both felt a great affinity with

“Please don’t stop me from drinking, it’s my only joy.

Please don’t stop me from smoking, this my reward.

Folder

Gene – Sick, Sober and Sorry

And then everything changed forever.

One Sunday, when Sian – who had been sofa-surfing at ours for a couple of weeks and, moving into her own flat the next day, had offered to take us out for a Sunday lunch somewhere as a “thank you” for letting her stay – suddenly, scarily, started banging on my bedroom door, imploring that I come help quickly.

Something was happening to Llŷr.

He had gone to the bathroom to clean his teeth, and had started having some kind of fit. I emerged to find him on his back on the bathroom floor, seemingly unconscious, frothing at the mouth.

I sent Sian off to the front of the house, partly so that she didn’t have to see Llŷr like this, partly because the phone reception was better to call an ambulance there.

But now what to do? Having taken control of the situation, I had to do something. Remembering films I’d seen, where this sort of thing happened, I threw water on Llŷr, foolishly thinking that would snap him out of it.

It didn’t, of course, but by the time the paramedics arrived, his fit had ended. They asked why his hair and T-shirt was all wet, a question which Llŷr himself asked as he was lifted into the ambulance.

I looked sheepish. “Threw some water on you. Thought it might work. Sorry.”

I kicked my heels and felt stupid.

I love the NHS. But that Sunday in Cardiff they were completely overwhelmed. We spent hours waiting to be seen and then, when he finally was, as I recall, the seizures having stopped hours earlier, they gave him a quick once over, resolved all was okay, and sent him home with an instruction to take a day or two off work.

Back at the flat, we ordered Chinese food and Llŷr made us both promise not to tell his parents. Neither Sian nor I were happy about it, but we respected his wish. Okay, we can convince ourselves that was a one-off.

I took the next day off work as a precaution too. Llŷr’s dad was due to visit to collect Sian, and since we didn’t want him to know what a shit-hole we lived in, or that Sian had stayed in, we pledged to clean the flat before he arrived.

Llŷr went off to clean the bathroom, and since this was where his last incident had happened, I was wary. Just take it easy, I said, and if you get into difficulties, just holler.

Ten minutes, later there was a crashing noise from the bathroom. I, stupidly, assumed he was having a laugh at my expense.

“Llŷr, are you okay?” I called.

No answer.

“Llŷr..?”

Still nothing.

“Okay, I’m coming, but you’d better be properly ill and not winding me up or I’m going to fucking kill you myself”.

Funny how words said in jest can come back to haunt you.

I found Llŷr laying on his side, having fortuitously landed in something approaching the recovery position, having another fit.

Reassuring words spoken. Ambulance called, again.

And this time, a much-needed stay in hospital.

When he was discharged, I hated leaving him at home alone for fear of anything happening whilst I was out, but he was insistent. Before he became ill, Llŷr and I often went clubbing together, and he was adamant that I should carry on even though he no longer could. Unsaid, I think he wanted to live vicariously through me, for whenever I went out clubbing he would be waiting up when I got home, eager to hear who had been out, and more importantly, what tunes had been played. I could remember the former, rarely the latter.

And so we devised a system that both freed us and kept things in check: if I was out, he just had to text me a code word which he would have saved on his phone, and I would come home.

Fast forward a few weeks. I met some friends in a bar in Cardiff, heading club-wards. They offered me some coke, which I declined. Seconds later my phone rang, and it was Llŷr. I answered, but could just hear a gurgling noise from the other end.

Fuck.

I ran home, passing people I knew through clubbing who were very surprised to see me run, and found Llŷr laying on the living room floor, in the final throes of another fit.

Nerves calmed – “I’m here, it’s going to be okay” – ambulance called.

Shortly afterwards, Llŷr was diagnosed with a brain tumour which was causing the seizures. He was given medication to stop them happening, but tragically the tumour was inoperable.

And that was fourteen years ago.

Fourteen years. Fourteen years where he has struggled and coped and fought and never once did I ever hear him complain. He knew the cards he had been dealt, accepted it but refused to let it define him, refused to let it stop him from doing whatever he wanted to do for as long as he could. He would still go to gigs, would still go to Glastonbury, and no annoying thing living in his head was going to stop him.

I wish I could say I’d react the same. I can’t say that I would. Who knows. But what I do know is that despite his restricted capabilities, Llŷr carried on regardless. Like he knew his time was limited and he was going to make sure he continued enjoying every second he had left.

Much as I may try here, I can’t properly express my admiration for him and the way he insisted on conducting himself.

And now Llŷr has left us, and there’s a gaping hole in my life where he used to be which nobody can ever fill.

Never again will we go to an indie club and do our little joke to each other where we would sing along to a record but take a swig of our drink when it gets to a lyric we don’t quite know (which we found so much funnier than I just made that sound).

Never again will we get to play “French, or Student?”, a game we devised – and even made up a theme tune to, nicked from Raw Sex’s musical enunciation of French & Saunders. The game was that when out at an indie club, one of us would stand behind someone who was dressed like they could be French or could be a Student, and the other had to guess which they were. Again, you probably had to be there.

Never again will I be able to text him the word “Pennoes!” and know he would be watching the same football match as me.

Never again will I have to worry about him spilling the beans on some of the more embarrassing moments that happened when we lived together. Never again will I be able to buy his silence with the threat of an equally unsavoury  tale.

Never again will we go to a Super Furry Animals gig together, as we did countless times, and laugh with each other as we basked in our self-perceived glory when we air-drummed the fill after the bridge on this tune, which we did every time, without fail, much to the bemusement and confusement of anyone who was with us:

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Super Furry Animals – Slow Life

Never again.

All of these records – and so, so many more – will always make me think of Llŷr.

They are ours.

Not past tense.

Are.

Not were.

For whilst he may be gone, they’re here with me now, as he will be whenever I hear them, for as long as I’m still breathing through these knackered old lungs of mine.

I’ve felt him at my shoulder as I’ve written every word of this: “Oh Jeremy, don’t tell that story…and pick that tune…no, not that one, that one.”

He’s gone, but he’s not, because I, and every person who ever met him, remember him as the most joyous, loveable, force of life you could ever hope to meet.

I’m honoured to have known Llŷr, to be able to call him my friend, my best friend, my little brother, and to know that would be reciprocated.

Dude, I miss you already. I always will.

There’s so many things I feel sad about. Selfishly, that my own recent illness robbed me of a couple of visits to see him, that I didn’t get chance to say goodbye to him properly.

Unselfishly, for you, my friend; for the battle you had, for all of the normal things one expects a life to deliver that you were robbed of, for the opportunities and experiences you’ll never have.

And angry at how terribly, terribly unfair it is that you’ve been taken from us.

Sleep easy, dude, you deserve a rest.

We’ll all love you forever.

We’ll never forget you.

And I will forever try to be the man you should still be.

*****

The final hymn at the memorial service on Friday was this, a song I have heard many times before, usually in the build-up to a Welsh rugby match. It never fails to make the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. But never before had I heard it sung so beautifully, so passionately, as it was on Friday:

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Morriston Orpheus Choir – Cwm Rhondda (Guide Me O Thou Great Jehovah/Bread of Heaven)

I warned you: here come the snot and tears again.

*****

Sian is running the London Marathon this year, raising funds for The Brain Tumor Charity. As I write this, she has smashed her target of £5000.00 – but that’s not a cut-off point. It would please me, and Llŷr’s family and friends, immensely if you could see your way to contributing, no matter how large or small an amount, so that one day, maybe, a family doesn’t have to go through what Llŷr and his family have had to.

If you’ve read this far a) well done, b) thank you, and c) please click the link below and read Sian’s words about Llŷr. They were written before he passed, but she says it way better – and, crucially, more concisely – than I have. But be warned, I’ve just read it again and I’m bawling my eyes out. Again.

https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-display/showROFundraiserPage?userUrl=SianWilliams16&pageUrl=3

More soon.

R.I.P Rick

As well as marking Kirsty MacColl’s death earlier in the month, there’s one other person who I always mark the passing of, with the same song every year.

By which I mean: you know what’s coming, don’t bother reading on if this offends.

2016 was a year when we lost oh so many of our popular culture heroes: David Bowie, Prince, Victroia Wood.

But I’d be lying if I didn’t say that the one I was most upset about was my childhood idol, Rick Parfitt.

So, with absolutely no apologies at all, here’s Quo’s one and only Christmas song:

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Status Quo – It’s Christmas Time

That’s probably me over and out until the New Year, so let me take this opportunity to wish everyone who stumbles onto my pages a very Merry Christmas.

Oh, and more soon, obviously.

Remembering Rick

Tomorrow many will be marking that it’s been twelve months since George Michael died.

But me, I’ll be remembering that it was exactly a year ago today that as my train pulled into the station on Christmas Eve, my phone went white hot as people – many of them readers of these pages – got in touch because Quo guitarist Rick Parfitt had died.

I’m not going to dwell on it, though. You all knew this was coming:

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Status Quo – It’s Christmas Time

More soon.

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