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.

It's Chriiiiistmas!!!!!

Yeh, you knew it was coming.

Today marks 3 years since the death of my boyhood (and, adulthood too) guitar hero, Rick Parfitt.

Rick would want us to have a great Christmas, I’m sure:

Status Quo – It’s Christmas Time

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:

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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.

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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.

Panic on the Streets of London

The other week, there was much conversation on social media of the sky being a funny reddy-orangey colour in the South East of the UK.

Transpires it wasn’t the end of days at all, but a load of sand particles being blown in from the Sahara Desert.

So, y’know, nothing to worry about at all.

It did mean I had this song in my brain for hours, though:

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Status Quo – Red Sky

To be honest, there’s a Quo song playing in my head 99% of the time, just turned out that this time it was bordering on relevant.

More soon.

The Chain #43

There. That’s caught you all out. The Chain on a Wednesday morning.

Don’t get used to this. I’m at a work conference this afternoon and won’t get back until late, so I figured if I didn’t get it done before then, it’d end up being another week before it appeared. So, I started writing it earlier than usual (but still a week late, if you’re being ungratefully picky).

Anyway, we’ve lots to get through this week – 63 new suggestions in total – and so, as has become usual, we’ll start off with a reminder of the source record for the week:

original_44242. The Beatles – Martha My Dear

Yet again, one of you correctly guessed the next song in The Chain, but we’ll come to that later. Or, more specifically, at the end.

But first, where to begin? Link-wise, I can think of no finer place than with therobster from Is This The Life? although, as you will see, the first tune of the week can only be partly credited to him:

“I’ve gone down the ‘intentionally misspelled animal-related band name’ route. How about some Def Leppard? No…?” 

Yes! But with no actual one-armed suggestions forthcoming from the robster, in stepped Rol from My Top Ten:

“If therobster isn’t going to suggest one, can I suggest…”

Def Leppard

Def Leppard – Let’s Get Rocked

“…because it’s very silly.”

Back to therobster, who actually suggests this:

“…let’s have the Monkees. As the Beatles were from Liverpool, I reckon ‘Randy Scouse Git’ would fit well. Plus, it’s actually about a party the band went to that was hosted by The Beatles”

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The Monkees – Randy Scouse Git

Now, just in case any of you were planning on pulling me up on using that sleeve, let me explain. RCA Records bosses told the band that they would not release the song with the title “Randy Scouse Git” (which, incidentally, is taken from 1960s sitcom “‘Til Death Us Do Part”), and demanded they gave it an alternate title. “Okay”, said drummer/singer Mickey Dolenz, “‘Alternate Title’ it is.”

Here’s another band that fits nicely into the category:

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The Byrds – I’ll Feel a Whole Lot Better

Now, as therobster quite right points out, The Beatles is indeed a mis-spelling, and a pun, on a group if insects, but this seems to have completely passed Kay by:

“I’m going down the insect/bug route” she announces, and then names these two tunes:

Adam & The Ants

Adam & The Ants – Prince Charming

and

Verve

The Verve – Catching The Butterfly

But whilst we’re on links from The Beatles to the beetles, we may as well have Mrs GMFree, who suggests: “A Beetle is a VW car which is German, so are krautrock masters Kraftwerk…”

Or, as Alan Partridge would say:

tumblr_mzmv3gTWx11qedb29o1_500

 “Kommen sie bitte und listen to Kraftwerk”

Kraftwerk

Kraftwerk – Autobahn

(NB. I tried to track down a video clip of just the Partridge – Kraftwerk introduction, sadly to no avail. But imagine my surprise when typing the words “alan partridge introduces kraftwerk” into Google to find that the fourth link it offers is to…The Chain #28!)

But I digress. GMFree seizes the opportunity to do the old Chain link one-two shuffle:

“Which leads me to my [next] suggestion with the recent death of Holger Czukay…”

Can

Can – Mushroom

“…which I first heard covered by The Jesus & Mary Chain, one of many bands influenced by the experimental Germans.”

And GMFree isn’t done there, providing “a Beatle link to a Captain Beefheart cover”, which contains one of the rarest sounds ever committed to record – Mark E Smith giggling:

Fall

The Fall – Beatle Bones ‘N’ Smokin’ Stones (Peel Session)

There’s also this, of course:

House Of Love

The House of Love – The Beatles and The Stones

Enter George (that’s an introduction, rather than a command), who suggests:

“…given that The Beatles once played on the roof of their Apple building, what about…”

Drifters

The Drifters – Up On The Roof

Ah yes, Apple Records. Alex G picks this up and runs with it:

“‘Martha, My Dear’ is from The Beatles’ eponymous 1968 LP, their first on their own Apple Records imprint. So from one artist-owned label named after a fruit, to another: Ray Charles’ Tangerine Records. I do wonder whether the Beatles got the idea from him, though nobody else seems to think so. Anyway, let’s go for Ray Charles’ version of…”

Ray

Ray Charles – Eleanor Rigby

Which is, as Alex G points out/pleads, a double linker. Points!

Time for a Magical Mystery Tour next, courtesy of Julian from Music From Magazines:

“The Beatles had a couple of names before they became famous

1. The Quarrymen

To quarry is to mine as in ‘Soul Mining’ by The The ( fill your boots)”

Don’t mind if I do.

The The

The The – Uncertain Smile

Julian continues:

“2. The Silver Beatles

Martha is a lady’s name

And the bloke leaning over my shoulder at the bar is called Dave, amongst other things

So let’s switch on the Magimix ™ and see what delight we get

………… and the winner is

David Soul ‘Silver Lady'”

Much as I love that record, it’s featured before, way back in The Chain #8, and as such has to be disqualified. But since GMFree has done the old Chain link one-two shuffle, I suggested Julian might want to follow suit. So, since, he’d got to David Soul, perhaps one of his other songs? Nope. That’s too straight-forward for our Julian:

“David Soul starred in a short lived TV show called ‘Casablanca’, so how about…”

Dooley

Dooley Wilson – As Time Goes By

I must say, I’m not in the least bit surprised that Julian has suggested a song from a film which contains the line “Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine.”

Anyway, he’s riffing by now:

“…coincidently [Casablanca] was the record label that released…”

Parliament

Parliament – Dr. Funkenstein

Having valiantly chipped in to assist therobster earlier, Rol’s back with a suggestion all his own doing:

“‘Martha My Dear’ is from The White Album. Another band who released a ‘White Album’ (following on from their Blue, Green and Red albums… even though all of them were actually just eponymous) were Weezer. From that, I’ll suggest…”

Weezer_-_Weezer_(The_White_Album)

Weezer – Thank God for Girls

Do any other White albums spring to mind? Well, no, although there is, of course “The Whitey Album”, by Sonic Youth off-shoot Ciccone Youth (I really thought this would get suggested, especially as I posted a track from it in a recent post).

Ciccone

Ciccone Youth – Addicted to Love

Over to Alyson from What’s It All About? to wrap up the whiteness now:

“It occurred to me that The Beatles ‘White Album’ reminds me of Mr Barry White…I can’t find any dog-related [this will get explained soon – Ed] Barry songs or ones about a girl called Martha [I think we pretty much used them all up last time – Ed] so it’ll have to be the next most appropriate for this place:”

Barry

Barry White – Let The Music Play

Now, all this white stuff is all well and good, but let me draw all of your attention back to something Alex G said earlier: ‘Martha, My Dear’ is from The Beatles’ eponymous 1968 LP…” And he’s quite right: the album in question is colloquially known as ‘The White Album’ but it’s actually, officially, called ‘The Beatles’.

Which takes us back to George, who suggests a new category: “…the ‘eponymous album that wasn’t a debut’ route.” And specifically he suggest this, from Blur’s 1997 album, the fifth that they released:

Blur

Blur – Death of a Party

I must say, this is my favourite link of all that were suggested this time. It had never occurred to me before that most acts, when releasing an eponymous album, made it their debut, presumably to double the impact of their name, get it “out there” as a recognisable brand. So I did a little digging and found these acts also released eponymous albums, but not first time around:

Metallica

Metallica – Enter Sandman

Yes, everyone calls their fifth album “The Black Album”, but it’s not called that, it’s called ‘Metallica’.

And at the other end of the musical spectrum, this lots’ first album was 1973’s “Ring Ring”, but it wasn’t until two years later, when they released their third album, that they released an album called…well, you can figure the rest of that sentence out for yourselves:

Front Cover

ABBA – S.O.S.

I sense a new series of posts coming on…

Now, remember how in her suggestion Alyson mentioned something about dogs in songs? Well that’s where we’re going next and here’s Dirk from sexyloser to explain why:

“..the title ‘Martha My Dear’ was inspired by McCartney’s Old English Sheepdog, named Martha.”

Which leads us nicely into a whole batch of songs about dogs. Sort of. But before we get to Dirk’s suggestion, here’s The Great Gog, awake at 02:31am and thinking about dogs:

“All this talk of Martha has me thinking of my one of my sister’s dogs, which goes by that moniker. Martha is a spaniel, no idea what type of spaniel though. One type is a cocker spaniel which immediately led me to thinking of…”

Cocker

Joe Cocker – With A Little Help From My Friends

Relax ladies, he’s married. And dead.

Back to The Great Gog it is then:

“Another type is a King Charles spaniel. The next King Charles is still a prince, however, so I can legitimately suggest…”

Prince Charles

Prince Charles & The City Beat Band – Cash (Cash Money)

The Songs (Sort Of) About Dogs category is (almost) the largest category, so strap yourself in for some canine capers. You could say that we’ve gone dog crazy, in fact:

Soup

The Soup Dragons – Backwards Dog

Okay then Dirk, what have you got for us?

“Another famous Old English Sheepdog was Alfie, who starred in ‘Serpico’, so – of course – did Al Pacino. And Al Pacino will always be remembered – at least in my household – not for Serpico, but a) [for the sex scene he had with the fabulous Ellen Barkin in] ‘Sea Of Love’, the film being named after a single by Phil Phillips from 1959. I prefer The Heptones’ version from 1968 though, also we don’t have enough Rocksteady on ‘The Chain’, I’m sure you’ll agree!”

Sorry, I stopped paying attention at the mention of Ellen Barkin. (I was wondering you were linking to her surname)

Heptones

The Heptones – Sea Of Love

What was the other thing Al Pacino is remembered for in Dirk Towers, Dirk?

“…and b) for ‘The Godfather’….So…if you have a minute The Godfathers would be appropriate…perhaps….?”

Godfathers

The Godfathers – Birth, School, Work, Death

And Dirk’s not done there. Oh no:

“We could also have something by Blondie as well…‘cos contrary to what everyone thinks, the band didn’t choose their name because Debbie Harry was blonde, no, they named themselves after Adolf Hitler’s German Shepherd, Blondi (the ‘i’ – ending was generally regarded as being too uncommon for American ears, so much so that the ‘-e’ was added)!”

Which is good enough for me. Here’s the Blondie track Dirk suggested:

deborah-harry-13772

Blondie – Ring Of Fire (Live 1980)

At which point, Walter from A few good times in my life pops in to throw this threesome into the mix:

“…if we go the ‘dog’ road there will be a lot of songs recommended, i.e….:”

And as it happens, nobody else suggested any of the three Walter mentioned, (although I had one lined up as one of my oh-so many choices) so here they are:

Specials

The Specials – Do The Dog

and

Stooges

The Stooges – I Wanna Be Your Dog

and

Adam - Dog

Adam & The Ants – Dog Eat Dog

Ok, brace yourself. It’s time for the undisputed Worst Record of the Week award, and to present the award here’s all round nice guy and not a white supremacist enabler at all, Sean Spicer accept the award and explain what the hell he was thinking when he sent me this suggestion is Rigid Digit from Stuff & Nonsense:

“…sticking firmly to the Dogs route (and a contender for Worst Record Of The Week)…”

Not just a contender, Rigid, but so nailed on The Worst Record Of The Week that nobody else even bothered to try to think of any more because this was so obviously unbeatable.

But first some context.

The song is about Barbara Woodhouse, a dog trainer who found celebrity status in the UK in the late 1970s/early 1980s, back when celebrities were required to have some semblance of talent (see also celebrity steeplejack Fred Dibnah). Here’s a clip to give you an idea:

And here she is, interviewing William Shatner, teaching his dogs a thing or two, and then revealing a little too much about her bedtime habits for my liking:

And here’s Rigid’s suggestion. Remember: in the world of The Barron Knights, a man putting on a ladies voice = funny:

Barron

The Barron Knights – The Sit Song

Not that they’re alone in that belief:

And here’s two actual funny women, Rebecca Front and Joanna Scanlon, parodying Ms Woodhouse directly and subtly:

I’ll leave the last word on that Barron Knights song to Charity Chic who quipped:

“I think you missed an H out of the title.”

Rigid then goes on to mention the Dogs d’Amour, but doesn’t actually suggest a record by them. Luckily for us him, babylotti steps in with three suggestions by the band; I’ve picked the one he cited as his favourite. Because I’m nice like that.

Dogs D'Amour

the Dogs d’Amour- How Do You Fall In Love Again?

Relax ladies, etc. etc.

I must say I always get the Dogs d’Amour mixed up with The Quireboys. Were they around at the same time? (NB: This is a rhetorical question, the type where instead of already knowing the answer, I already know that I don’t really care.)

So let’s have some more doggy-do’s, and one which I was surprised nobody else suggested. A song which is famously about a dog, although the name in the title was changed from ‘Brandy’ in the first draft (who sounds more like a stripper than a dog, if I’m honest) to:

Manilow

Barry Manilow – Mandy

Count yourselves lucky I didn’t post the Boyzone version. Or the Westlife version. Whichever one of them recorded it. They’re the same thing really anyway, aren’t they?

Oh, and innuendo fans, check out the title of that B-Side. Parp!

IMG_20170626_195601

Since we appear to be in 1970s softie ballad territory, here’s another from Rigid Digit:

“What the world needs is more acoustic guitar playing beardy blokes…”

which is debatable, but he means that as an introduction to this:

Cat

Cat Stevens – I Love My Dog

It’s no wonder that Cat Stevens changed his name. A cat admitting to loving a dog is always going to be given the cold shoulder by the feline community.

Now, I must admit that when Rigid suggested that song, I actually thought he was talking about this:

Peter

Peter Shelley – Love Me Love My Dog

Thank goodness for The Barron Knights, or I’d have to give myself the Worst Record of the Week award now.

But it’s okay, I can turn things round. From Peter Shelley, to Pete Shelley:

Pete Shelley

Pete Shelley – Homosapien

(I was going to post a Buzzcocks tune and had settled for the (s)punky little burst that is ‘Orgasm Addict’, until I realised how that might look when played after the previous two songs…)

Time for another one that I was surprised nobody else came up with. The original version has featured on The Chain before, so I would have had to disqualify it. But, as with the helping hand I tried to give Julian earlier, had the original been suggested than I would doubtless have given you a nudge towards this:

Futureheads

The Futureheads – Hounds Of Love

One more doggy disc to go, and we’re back with Rigid Digit again. He’s relentless, isn’t he?

His final suggestion is for a record that’s “Madly brilliant, but not really essential.”

Who

The Who – Dogs

Their record label initially refused to release that, on the grounds that it was trying just a bit too hard to sound like The Small Faces. Harsh, but fair.

But as Rigid astutely concludes:

“There ain’t many songs whose last words are: ‘lovely buttocks'”

A fair point, well made. But just think of the songs which could be improved by the inclusion of those words. “God Save The Queen” springs to mind.

Speaking of which…

Often, the suggestions link from one song to another by way of one word in the title. But there wasn’t much to work on here, just three words, and one of them, Martha, was pretty much done to death last time. But there was one more song to link to that name, from Swiss Adam over at Bagging Area:

I have a niece called Martha. Her Mum, my sister, was born in June 1977. My parents sometimes say that if she’d been born on the Queen’s jubilee day they’d have called her Jubilee. At least I think they’re joking. So [this] seems an appropriate link (Pistols obvs).”

Pistols

Sex Pistols – God Save The Queen

As does this, to be fair:

Blur Parklife

Blur – Jubilee

Having mopped up the last of the Martha’s, we’ll edge towards the end of the song title now with a “My” or two. Or three, actually. And two of them are from me.

This being one of them:

Armand (2)

Armand Van Helden – My My My (feat. Tara McDonald)

And since it features a man and his dog (and for no other reason, honestly) here’s the video for that one too:

The other “My” suggestion comes from abramson60, who, clearly unmoved by that video, announces that he’s “got a soft spot for Joan Armatrading.”

Joan

Joan Armatrading – Me Myself I

Me: Well, if you’re suggesting that…

The Chain gang: …then you’re suggesting this:

De La Soul

De La Soul – Me Myself and I

And so on to what is the biggest grouping of songs of the week.

Surprisingly, nobody went for this:

tmp_2F1420573049348-s4rvbej6l5g919k9-e0b7ea9049dbb04b796f7811c3583366_2FMCR914-675x672

The Stone Roses – Elizabeth My Dear

So, where to start with this little lot. Well, let’s split them down into songs which feature the word “Dear” in the title (or prominently elsewhere in the lyrics) and, first, songs which can in some way be linked to Deer.

And, after missing last times linkage, it’s a warm welcome back to SWC, who proffers this:

“If we want to be clever…”

Hinds

Hinds – Garden

Look out. Julian’s back:

“I never checked the spelling and assumed Paul was singing about a ruminant mammal on his Scottish Croft . The Beatles released a b-side “Rain” and Bambi was a deer, know the song yet?

Blind Bambi… no idea

Dead blind Bambi… still no idea…?”

I must admit, I assumed at this point that Julian was about to suggest this:

bambi

Sex Pistols – Who Killed Bambi

(Except it’s not really the Sex Pistols, is it? It’s got Eddie Tudor-Pole on lead vocals for a start. And it’s from ‘The Great Rock’n’Roll Swindle’. And it’s title and that picture are  clearly meant to shock, but it’s shocking for the sake of being shocking. Not cool.)

But no, Julian was in fact going here:

“Ok it’s the rain song from Bambi”.

This caused a little confusion at Chain HQ, as the song that Julian actually wanted was this:

Bambi

Bambi – Little April Showers

…which, confusingly, was not going to be in the original film, it was going to be a song called “Rain Song”, which was ditched in favour of “…April Showers”, and which you can see/hear here:

And then, just to confuse things even further, Julian goes and suggests this:

Houses of The Holy

Led Zeppelin – The Rain Song

But of course, we all know where Julian’s really heading:

“More importantly the animated video for “Is a Woman” also features falling leaves and a deer, by Lambchop of course”

But of course:

Lambchop

Lambchop – Is A Woman

And here’s the video he mentions:

I’ve not had chance to watch that, so I’m trusting you on that one, Jules.

Ok, so that’s the deer related bunch over with, so “if we are going down the dear route”, says SWC, then “we need….”

Dears

The Dears – 22: The Death Of All The Romance

Cheers, SWC, I’d totally forgotten about that one. Great to hear it again.

Back to GMFree now, for another couple of belters:

Lush

Lush – Dear Me (Miki’s 8-Track Home Demo)

and

Blade Runner

Don Percival – One More Kiss, Dear

I have a confession to make: I’ve never seen Blade Runner. Sacrilege, I know. But it’s one of those films that everybody bangs on to me about how amazing it is that it can never live up to expectations. I guess I’d better rectify that before the new one comes out later this year, right?

Over to babylotti now, who suggests these two:

“[I’m] going to fall back on Marvin Gaye’s divorce settlement album, ‘Here My Dear’, with obvious reference to Martha my dear….I’ll suggest the title track rather than any of the singles.”

Marvin

Marvin Gaye – Here, My Dear

…before also doing that old Chain link one-two shuffle:

 “And from there I believe I have to link to…”

CCR

Creedence Clearwater Revival – I Heard It Through The Grapevine

And whilst we’re on great versions of classic songs, does this next one remind anyone of anything?

Little Fish

Little Fish – Darling Dear

Anybody? No? Not even this:

Just me then.

Back to abramson60 again for his second and final submission:

“…there would be ‘Mother dear, they’re teaching me to do the goose-step’, which can be found in….”

Alex

The Sensational Alex Harvey Band – Give My Compliments To The Chef

Martin from New Amusements snuck his suggestion under the wire just in time:

“Keith Moon used to call everybody “Dear Boy” and he did a pretty fair cover of Beatles track ‘In My Life’ for his lone solo album ‘Two Sides of the Moon’ (even if it was played with too straight a bat). Anyway, a double-linker!”

A double-linker indeed. Points!

Keith

Keith Moon – In My Life

Back to Walter now, and his final two suggestions (although, granted, his first three were more mentioned in passing than actual suggestions):

“For sure,  from probably Talking Heads’ last good record ‘Naked’…”

Talking Heads

Talking Heads – Ruby Dear

and “Another song that accompanied me since my youngest days…”

Traffic

Traffic – Dear Mr. Fantasy

Time for C from Sun Dried Sparrows tune now, and this is an example of me saving the best ’til (almost) last; I think this is my favourite song by this lot. I love a good bracket (see?)

“I went down the ‘dear’ route too and another song whose title ends in the word ‘dear’ (there can’t be many, surely?). “Dear” is such a charming, old-fashioned word, I always thought it sounded a bit out of place for Blondie to use it but I love that they do. So I’d like to suggest…”

Blondie

Blondie – (I’m Always Touched By Your) Presence Dear

Now, when the suggestions start coming in, I will often have a little bet with myself as to who I think will suggest what. I’m rarely right, of course. For example, this week I was sure that Dirk would suggest this:

Au Pairs

Au Pairs – Dear John

But he didn’t, so now I have to, just to give extra justification for me posting this:

Quo

Status Quo – Dear John

You’re right. I can’t help myself sometimes.

Which just leaves two songs, and you’ve probably noticed that Charity Chic from Charity Chic Music has been a bit quiet this time out. Here’s why:

“My first thoughts (neither of which will be the correct answer) were…”

Siouxsie

Siouxsie & The Banshees – Dear Prudence

…which, given it’s a cover of a song from The Beatles’ “White Album” and features the word “Dear” is unquestionably a double-linker (Points!!).

And I wouldn’t be so sure about neither of your suggestions being right, CC, for you’re right on the money with your second one. The official link is, quite simply “From one Dear to another…” and the next record in The Official Chain is this:

Dexys

43. Dexys Midnight Runners – There, There, My Dear

I’d forgotten how great that record is too, as it goes.

So, CC, congratulations. A huge bag of non-existent points is winging its way to you. Hopefully that makes up for The Chain making you late for work last time. And today, too.

Ok, you know what happens now. This is the bit where I invite your suggestions, please, for songs which link to “There, There, My Dear” by Dexys Midnight Runners, along with a brief description of the link, via the Comments Section down below, in time for the next edition. Who knows when that might be.

More soon.

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