Tonight’s mix is not the one I had planned to post.
The one I had prepared was a little too upbeat for such a momentous weekend; whilst I personally won’t be joining in the nation’s mouring, I didn’t want to disrespect those that are.
And so I decided to create a mix “on the fly”; I decided what the first and last track would be, and then started recording as I journeyed from one to the other.
I tell you this instead of offering sleeve notes, as there will doubtless be those who think some of my selections are….disrespectful. That wasn’t the intention. The intention was simply to pick tunes which sounded good next to each other – any which may seem to have been chosen as some sort of comment on any recent high profile passings are entirely coincidental.
So let’s crack on, shall we?
(By the way, because this mix is just shy of 2 hours, Google Drive can’t cope and won’t let me upload it, so the link below takes you to my old Soundcloud account. Hope it works ok!)
Last one of these, until I next get it together to do another mix for JC. There’s no point in my continuing the series with reference to the Friday Night Music Club mixes, as invariably if something doesn’t make the cut in one it will turn up sooner or later in another (with the notable exception of a couple of tunes which have been dropped on at least three occasions each now).
Sometimes when you bump one tune from a playlist, there’s a domino effect. Suddenly, the song which would have been next to it seems out of place, an island cut off from the mainland.
And so it is with today’s record, which, once I had decided against including yesterday’s psychedelic swirl by Super Furry Animals, now had no companion piece to anchor it to.
In other words, it stood out like sore thumb, and therefore had to go, which is shame because it’s an absolute beauty:
I tried to retrieve the situation, but all I could come up with which both fitted the theme of the mix and sounded good next to it was a record I figured I would be accused of building the playlist around, even if it did come from a time when the band in question sounded very different to the way they sound now, a time before they had ditched the The from their name, when actually the opposite was true: it was considered purely on the basis of thematic and sonic appropriateness.
And so I ditched both.
I still think they make pretty good bed-fellows, mind:
Here we are again, and this week, as ‘promised’ a completely new mix for your Friday Night enjoyment.
Not much to say about this one (man alive, I know how to pitch!), except to say that after the first track, it goes a little bit Radio 2 for a few songs (which is no bad thing in my book), before diving head-long into a right old Indie disco, starting off over in the USA (and mostly New York) before switching to some tunes which are unmistakeably British, along with a rip-roaring final track to bring matters to a close.
Here comes the disclaimer: any skips or jumps are down to the mixing software (there’s one biggie in the first tune, but other than that it seems to have behaved itself this time); any mis-timed mixes are down to me; all record selections are mine.
By which I mean, a Friday Night Music Club mix for Good Friday, as opposed to “At last! A good Friday Night Music Club!”
I’ve “ummed & ahhed” about posting this one to be honest; whilst I am not in the least bit religious – I’m firmly in the “religion is the opium of the people” camp – I do think it’s important to respect those who do have faith, no matter in which God, and I didn’t want this to come across as me taking the mick.
Besides, if I’m going to happily accept some extra days off work at Christmas and Easter, it would be rude to bite The Hand that feeds me.
That said, when you’re trying to find pop songs which in some way relate to the biggest Christian festival of the year, of which there are few, and whilst also trying to stay away from obviously religious songs, of which there are many, one does worry that what I’ve prepared may see disrespectful. Genuinely, it’s not meant to be, and I hope it isn’t.
See, I think I’ve dodged that particular pitfall by trying to make this mix so that it roughly follows the events of Easter weekend (as far as I can remember from junior school), starting a little earlier with Judas’s betrayal of Jesus, through Peter’s repeated denials, the crucifixion and resurrection, with some stuff about chocolate and bunnies thrown in to cover the Saturday, when nothing much happened. Apologies if I have misremembered the ‘true’ sequence. If only someone had written it down in some kind of, I dunno, good book that I could have referred to…
I also wanted to avoid including anything from obvious film or theatre portrayals, so there’s nothing fromAndrew Lloyd-Webber and Tim Rice’s Jesus Christ Superstar or from Monty Python’s Life of Brian. Oh ok, there is a teensy bit of Life of Brian in there, but don’t fret, it’s not Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.
For those of you pondering Dylan’s inclusion, he’s in there for two reasons: firstly, the song title seemed pretty apt, and secondly, because of the infamous moment when someone shouted “Judas” at him at a gig after he dared to start playing an electric guitar. This of course only makes him the third worst Judas that I’m aware of: there’s the obvious Iscariot chap at #1, and of course Sol Campbell at #2, for leaving Tottenham on a free transfer to go to play for Arsenal. (See, if I was religious, I’d have forgiven him by now.)
Anyway, as I say, I’m honestly not trying to offend with this mix (so there’s no need for an ‘effing and jeffing’ warning this week), rather the idea is to offer up a way that non-Christians can enjoy the weekend’s activities from a musical perspective, and who knows, perhaps even engage in a way they haven’t done for a long time.
In 1982, entering the third year of her first term as UK Prime Minister, with unemployment reaching the highest figures for years, and with riots breaking out across the country, Margaret Thatcher was doubtless glad of the distraction of the Falklands War. It galvanised the country against an outside enemy and very much took the attention away from all that was wrong at home.
40 years later, you could almost hear the sighs of relief from 10 Downing Street when Russia started its current campaign against Ukraine: at last, something to stop people talking about all those lock-down parties.
Even though we’re not directly involved at this point, some think that our #CrimeMinister Johnson has had a good war so far, and they’d be right, if by good you mean making it almost impossible for the millions of refugees fleeing their pummelled homeland to come here, however temporarily.
Rest of The World: Yes, of course you can come in. Yes, as many of you as need to. No, it doesn’t matter if you haven’t already got family here.
The UK: Form a queue, will you chaps? No not here, in a completely different country. No, not that one, THAT one. Yes, at the desk with one chap sat at it. He’ll give you nice 48-page document to complete which, once you’ve filled it in, we’ll have a think about whether we want to let you in or not. It’s very simple to complete; look Question 1: how would you describe your ethnicity? Question 2: can you pick fruit?
And then last week, the news many of us had been waiting for: the Metropolitan Police began to issue fines to those who had attended any of the parties at No 10 which Johnson had once tried to claim didn’t happen, and if they did, he didn’t know anything about them, and he definitely didn’t attend any of them, even though they were held in his house.
The first round of fines were, to be honest, a little disappointing, with 20 fines being issued, the only real rib-tickler being Helen MacNamara, who, ironically, had been the government’s director general for propriety and ethics until 2020.
Hang on? 20?? Is that all?? There were more people in that infamous photo that got leaked:
Incidentally, when the Partygate controversy was unravelling, much was made of the inaction of the police officers positioned on the door of No 10. What were they doing during all of this? Why didn’t they intervene? And, truth be told, I felt a little sorry for them. What were they supposed to do? Leave their post, go into No 10 and shout hands up? This would at best have merely prompted this lot to start doing the YMCA dance.
Anyway, yesterday the big news, a whole load more fines had been issued….
…and this time, some big fish had been hooked, with PM Johnson and Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak both being issued with fines.
Both were quick to issue grovelling apologies and to declare they had accepted and paid the fines. The apologies were so heartfelt, that Johnson was clearly reading from a script during his TV appearance, although to be fair he did manage to stick to it without getting lost, or starting to bang on about Peppa Pig, or trying to roger the lectern.
Frankly, I don’t know why he’s pretending to be sorry (I mean, we all know that when he says he’s sorry, he means he sorry he got caught – just ask any of his ex-wives, marriages which ended because Boffing Boris couldn’t keep his de Pfeffel in his trousers): he has always wanted to make history as Prime Minister, and he’s done that now. He’s the first ever sitting Prime Minister to commit – and be caught committing – a criminal offence whilst in office. Congratulations!
Poor chap, he wanted to emulate his idol, Winston Churchill, but this just makes him the Richard Nixon of British politics. Although Nixon at least had the decency to resign after he got caught out.
It’s been a tricky couple of weeks for Rishi too; a while ago, I mentioned how his wife, Akhshata Murty, was a major shareholder in Infosys, a technology company who had, until very recently (and not until it had been ignored when the UK government was issuing sanctions against companies with links to Russia and Putin) an office in Russia.
It transpires that since 2016, Infosys is among companies that shared £100m in public sector contracts between 2015 and 2021. It was also one of nine partners in a £10m contract with Tory-run Westminster City Council last year, secured a £25m IT contract from the Tory-run East Sussex County Council.
In entirely unrelated news, I’m sure, it has now been revealed that Murty holds non-dom tax status, which means she is not required by law to pay UK taxes on her overseas income. Her wealth is estimated at around £500m, the majority of this coming from her shares in Infosys.
So, at a time when we are all expected to be paying more through increased VAT, higher National Insurance contributions, increasing fuel and food bills, how can it be right that the spouse of the man largely responsible for all these things can get away without contributing to the public purse themselves?
Nothing to see here, move on.
Back to Sunak himself, then, who launched another impassioned defence of his wife, giving an interview to The Sun where he said: “To smear my wife to get at me is awful…She loves her country like I love mine. I would never dream of giving up my British citizenship.”
Except: it has also come to light that he held a green card, allowing him to live and work in the United States, for 19 months after he became Chancellor. This effectively meant he was declaring himself a permanent resident of the United States for tax purposes, long after he became a member of Parliament. Coincidentally, he gave up the card before making his first visit to the United States as chancellor last October.
Although it features on my favourite Beatles album, this has always been my least favourite song on it, mostly because it seemed to be pop stars moaning about having to pay tax, and by association an endorsement of that ghastly habit pop stars used to do: spending a year abroad “for tax reasons.” I see it in a slightly different way now….
There were rumours that, before he hit rocky waters, Sunak was briefing against and leaking about Johnson, with one eye on taking over as PM when Johnson could finally hang on no longer. It strikes me that if he really wants to deliver a killer blow to Johnson, whilst restoring some of his battered own reputation, then perhaps Sunak’s next move should be to resign from his position as Chancellor of the Exchequer, thereby demonstrating what an honourable politician should do when found guilty of breaking the law when in office.
Probably wishful thinking on my part (not that I wish Sunak were PM, I should stress, just that Johnson wasn’t), but you never know. Watch this space…
Anyway, to return to Partygate, it seems more fines are to follow, and surely more of those must be heading in the direction of some of our more prominent government ministers. If there was a game of Pin-The-Tail-On-The-Donkey at any of the parties, then Gavin Williamson or Dominic Raaaaaaaaab will be in trouble. Priti Patel, though, she’s probably safe, as nobody’s going to invite her to a party, because as yet there is no party game which involves turning milk sour just by looking at it.
Much as Johnson and his cronies may wish it would all go away, I think it’s safe to say the party isn’t over yet:
A couple of weeks ago, I had the dubious distinction of co-hosting this year’s Christmas Party at work.
This involved me and three others planning and then hosting the event, which got moved to an online virtual party a little more than a week before it was scheduled for, due to the latest Covid strain and the advice to avoid face-to-face meetings unless they were absolutely necessary. This meant a lot of frantic rewriting, but it all went well in the end, with remarkably few technical issues. I’ll maybe write some more about this later.
You won’t be surprised to learn that my main contribution with regards to content was a pop quiz, in the form of a Spot the Intro round. The organisers last year had done one about Christmas Number Ones, so I had planned to do one about Christmas Number Twos, mostly so that I could make a particularly lavatorial joke.
However, you’d be surprised how many records which were #2 in the UK charts on Christmas Day are not particularly Christmassy at all, so it got changed to The NotThe Christmas Number One Quiz, which isn’t a particularly snappy title, I must confess.
I prepared 20 intros of Christmas records and invited the attendees to name the song, the artist, the year it was originally a hit, and what was actually #1 that Christmas.
This allowed we to slip in a few gags when delivering the answers: “That was Coldplay with Christmas Lights, setting the template for the soundtrack to every M&S advert since” and, my favourite, “From 2008, that’s It’s Christmas Time by Status Quo, which was kept off the #1 slot by Alexandra Burke’s Hallelujah. That, and 38 other records.”
Anyway, that put me in the mood for doing a Christmas mix, remembering that this time last year Christmas was cancelled and I posted a very long and defiantly un-Christmassy mix.
My brother is picking me up to go to be with our parents later today, so this mix is intended to be played on the journey over there (you’ve been warned, bruv!), and then when we arrive too. As such it’s geared towards Christmas Eve, travelling home, Santa visiting (and what the randy old dog gets up to when he does) and the hope that this Christmas is better than last year. It’s full of slightly obscure tunes and the occasional cover of a Christmas favourite. And you’ll be relieved to hear that, unlike most of my mixes, it’s only about an hour and a quarter long. There’s only so many jingling bells one can take.
The length doesn’t seem to have effected the occasional skip or jump (my usual disclaimer) but having listened to it through that shouldn’t spoil your enjoyment too much.
And yes, of course The Wedding Present and Status Quo (R.I.P. Rick) make appearances.
I’m having fun guessing at which song my father will try to work out how to turn the volume down a little, and when exactly my mother will ask just what on earth we’re listening to. I reckon if it’s not when Helen Love is covering Merry Christmas (I Don’t Wanna Fight) then it will certainly be when Mr. Hankey the Christmas Poo makes his annual appearance. And so we’re back to Christmas #2s.
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).
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.)”
“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.)
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:
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.”
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…”:
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:
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.”
“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:
Which just about wraps it up.
Oh wait. Here’s Rol again:
“And then there’s Little Red Courgette, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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.
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:
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?”
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…”:
“…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)…”
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…”
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.”
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.”
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:
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:
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?”
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…:”
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….”:
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:
“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:
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:
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 email@example.com in time for whenever The Chain circus next rolls into town, in a month or so’s time (probably).