Firstly, I wanted to do a mix unlike the Not Christmas one, which I thought strayed a bit too far into the territories of cheese or chart music. Whilst it served a purpose, it wasn’t really indicative of the sort of tunes which usually feature here.
This one, though is a corker, even if I do say so myself.
Regular readers may recall that way back in the late 1980s, I started DJ’ing at college because I was fed up with being able to guess what song the indie DJs would play next. So imagine my annoyance when my own brother told me that on a previous mix he’d been able to predict my next choice a couple of times. Grrr.
But this mix has proved to be such a pain to complete; when I came to do it today, it tells me that some of the tunes have been played 22 times, which gives you an idea of how many times I’ve tried to get this one right. Pretty much once a week, since Christmas.
What’s gone wrong all those times? Well, on more than one occasion professional pride kicked in: I’ve messed up a mix between tunes, so have elected to start again.
On more than one occasion, preoccupied with playing Solitaire or Candy Crush just to have something to do whilst recording the mix, there’s a sudden, irretrievable silence where the next record should be. Oops!
Once I forgot to stop recording until an hour later, and, triumphant at how the mixes had worked out, I couldn’t understand why the mix lasted over 5 hours, until I listened to it.
The other problem is booze. More than once, I’ve taken drink to such an extent that I’ve forgotten I was doing a mix until the silence after one record has finished hits home and startled me awake.
Last weekend, I got to the third record from the end, and suddenly woke up to silence and realised I’d messed up again. That’s not an indictment of the standard of the mix, by the way, more an example of how drunk I’d gotten.
Even last night, when I finally nailed it, it was my second attempt of the night, having got through most of the mix when I had a drink-spillage event, which I thought I’d sorted, until, four records from the end, suddenly the sound cut out whilst the tunes kept playing and I had no idea if it was still recording the sound or the sound of silence.
Anyway, we’ve got here, and this has been a real pain, so if you could take a listen, that would be great.
I will confess that I have broken the golden rule of not featuring the same act more than once in this mix; this wasn’t intentional, but as the various run-throughs progressed, I simply forgot said acts already appeared as “featuring” acts. One is deliberate. Sue me (Please don’t).
Time for the usual disclaimer: any glitches, skips or jumps are down to the software or the uploading/downloading process, and nothing to do with my limited mixing skills.
Oh, and the usual “effing and jeffing” warning applies; it seems I’m incapable of doing a mix which doesn’t include more than the occasional swear.
I’m not posting a link to download here, other than the one to Soundcloud, where you can either download or stream it.
I couldn’t be bothered with the last ones, but I’ve done it this time: you’ll see a list of all the acts featured in this mix at the bottom of the page, so you can check whether this one’s likely to be your cup of tea before going to the hassle of actually listening to it. If you’re particularly short of things to do, you can try to guess which song I’ve picked by which artist. There’s fun.
But by way of a description: pretty much all life is here, from indie rock to 60s California hippy-shtick, some Old Skool dance classics, some hip-hop and some soul classics via some Northern Soul belters via some TV show theme tunes (sort of); there’s some hoary old rock and some psychobilly, and a couple of tracks which should have featured in a New post by now, but the bands in question played the 6Music festival last weekend so you’ll probably know them intimately by now. And, of course, there’s The Fall.
Easy on the cheese this time, there’s even some poetry so we can all pretend we’re intellectual. You’ll have chance to dance, sit and recover for a few moments, before getting back on it again.
Available for a limited time (i.e. until I do the next one), you can download or stream this on Soundcloud here:
A week is a long time in politics, so the saying goes. And what a week we’ve just had.
First, Joe Biden was announced as the next President of the United States of America, having won control back from tantrum throwing Donald J Trump.
Secondly, in the news that I think we’ve all been waiting for more than anything: a potential vaccine for Covid-19 has been found. Of course, it has been developed by one of those massive pharmaceutical companies, Pfizer, so we can expect to be charged an arm and a leg for it: Tim Berners-Lee they most definitely are not.
Now I don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade, but as it happens, I have some experience of Pfizer products. Back in the mid-2000s they manufactured a course of tablets designed to assist people wishing to quit smoking, as I did. I’d heard about this magic pill, asked my GP about it, and he prescribed me some. I was instructed to continue smoking my normal amount everyday for two weeks, taking half of one of the tablets for that same period. Then, stop smoking and increase dosage to take a whole tablet each day. The pill would, so the bumph said, quash the desire to smoke.
I utterly failed to give up as a result, soon sliding back to my bad old ways. To be fair, I don’t think that Pfizer had reckoned with quite how dedicated to smoking I was back then.
One of the reasons I failed to quit on that occasion was because the tablets made me feel really nauseous. Ordinarily, when I’d had a few too many drinks and felt pukey, I rarely reached for a cigarette, so I did wonder if that was the masterplan all along: make the patient feel unwell so they don’t want to smoke.
Shortly after this latest of many falls off the wagon, I decided to give them another go, and returned to my GP to ask for a new prescription, only to be told that they no longer prescribed this course of tablets. He was a little evasive as to the reasons, but I was told by a friend who worked in the NHS that there had been reports of multiple people, almost exclusively men, who had been prescribed the same drugs as I, and who it later transpired were vulnerable in terms of their mental health. Placed on a course of these pills, the rumour went, they either had violent, psychotic episodes or they committed suicide, or both. Although (I hasten to add) no link was formally identified, I gather there sufficient concern to lead GPs to refrain from continuing to prescribe them to anyone.
Now, I am not for one second saying that the Covid vaccine is going to have the same effect, in fact it seems extremely unlikely that it would, given the (anecdotal) history I’ve just outlined. I’m sure we’ve all noticed a much greater focus on people’s mental health during lockdown than I can ever remember happening before, and that’s to be welcomed; but – as with any new drugs rushed on to the market – we need to make sure all testing is done to ensure that there are, if not none, then very limited side-effects.
I guess what I’m saying is we should be cautiously optimistic. Let’s not all go wild and drop our guard: we should continue as I hope you all currently are: wearing our masks, socially distancing, washing our hands, and only leaving our homes for essentials. In other words: don’t get carried away, or, if you prefer, just play it cool :
Speaking of getting Carried away (see what I did there? No? Ok, we’ll come back to this…), thirdly, this:
I wrote in my recent post about the American elections that suddenly both social and the mass media appeared to have developed spines, and this seems to have spread to the UK as on Friday night Prime Minister Honey Monster booted out his right hand man and architect of all things dastardly Dominic Cummings.
I’ll admit that when the kernel of this story first surfaced on Thursday, I assumed it was a No 10 tactic to divert attention away from the most unwelcome news that the UK was the first country in Europe to pass 50,000 Covid-related deaths.
Yey! Go Us! Number 1!! Whoo-hoo!
It seemed such a non-story, a bit of in-house cat-fighting as Lee Cain quit after having his promotion from head of communications to chief of staff was blocked by Johnson’s fiancee, Carrie Symonds (OK, now do you see what I did there??).
First things first: who the heck is Lee Cain, and why should we give a monkey’s about him quitting? Well, he was the former Vote Leave campaign official who started out as a tabloid journalist with The Sun. After a short period of employment with The Mirror where he was employed to dress as a chicken to taunt David Cameron (surely a pig would have been better…), he went on to work for the Vote Leave organisation in the run-up to the 2016 Brexit referendum. He was the Head of Broadcast for the successful push to quit the EU, working closely with campaign director Dominic Cummings.
Let’s back up a moment here. I’m sure you noticed it. He worked for (right wing rag) The Sun and the (left wing rag) The Mirror. This is not a man whose CV screams “consistent political allegiance”.
Let’s back up a bit more and just remind ourselves that Vote Leave, under Cummings and Cain’s supervision, were fined £61,000 and referred to police for breaking electoral spending laws.
At this point, I have to say I’ve made my mind up about Cain: he’s a flim-flamming charlatan, a law-breaker, seemingly more interested in progressing his own career than, say, doing what is best for the country. To me, he is absolutely not someone that I would want to have anywhere near power.
Not a view shared by those in actual power, it seems.
Having made the switch into Conservative politics, he then found PR roles at the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs under Spitting Image-puppet made flesh Michael Gove – presumably because he wasn’t one of those ‘experts1 Gove announced we were all so tired of – and very briefly at Downing Street under Dancing Queen Theresa May.
In 2017 he left to join Johnson as his spokesperson at the Foreign Office. When “Boris” walked out of the cabinet – he’d run out of countries to offend, if memory serves – Cain walked out with him, even working without pay for a short period, telling journalists that “the boss would come good”. What a martyr.
Note: if you can afford to work for a period, no matter how short, without pay, you were probably being paid too much to do the job you left. Just saying.
When Johnson made it to No 10 last July, Cain landed a key job – Head of Communications – in the inner circle. He was identified as the “evil genius” who put his old mate Cummings forward to become the PM’s most senior adviser.
His exit from No 10 followed Allegra Stratton’s appointment as the government’s spokesperson for new White House-style TV briefings. Cain is said to have had a hissy-fit and flounced out several days ago, insisting that he must get the job of Chief of Staff since he would be side-lined on communications by the arrival of Ms Stratton.
In a bid to keep Cain in a job, it was rumoured that Cummings had threatened to go too. And here’s the problem: after Cummings’ infamous drive to Durham, followed by a further drive to check his eyesight when the rest of the country was in Lockdown 1, in the face of popular public opinion, Johnson decided to stand by him. Consequently, the man thought he was bullet-proof.
Much as I love the Poppies, it’s incredible to think that band member Clint Mansell is now one of the most respected film score composers.
But I digress. Now in the middle of Lockdown 2 (“Corona’s Back…and You’re Still Dead”) it all kicked off again on Friday, when Cummings and Cain were summoned to Downing Street to explain themselves, Johnson having evidence – in the form of text messages sent by unidentified whistle-blowers to his partner Carrie Symonds (you’ve got it by now, surely?) – that they were briefing against him.
Who could possibly have foreseen that a pair with histories the likes of Cummings and Cain carried with them would prove to be scheming, duplicitous shits? Budding Iago’s, the pair of them (there, that’s a cultural reference you weren’t expecting!).
Of course, Machiavellian mastermind that he is, Cummings spoke to the press on Thursday night/Friday morning, saying that that it had always been his plan to be become redundant by the end of 2020.
And to support this, he says that he says that he wrote about it on his blog back in January 2020.
We’ve been here before, haven’t we?
You’ll recall that after his little jaunt up to his illegally built farmhouse earlier this year, he gave an interview where he said this: “For years I’ve warned of the dangers of pandemics. Last year I wrote about the possible threat of coronaviruses and the urgent need for planning.”
But according to Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine (which is a lot more credible than it sounds), sometime between 8 April 2020 and 15 April 2020 – just before his trip – Cummings’ 2019 blog on pandemics was updated to include a paragraph on SARS (which, along with Covid-19, is also caused by a coronavirus).
This is also confirmed by the website’s sitemap information. This shows that this particular blog post appears to have been edited on 14 April 2020. Prior to this, his blog made no mention of coronaviruses.
I wonder: has anyone checked whether his statement about wishing to be largely redundant by the end of the year made via his blog wasn’t added at a later date too?
And that’s where we are now: Cummings and Cain both booted out of Number 10 a month or so earlier than they say they intended to leave anyway. It’s like when you got dumped as a teenager, and were desperate to wrestle back control of the narrative: “No, I finished with her…”
Now: why would Cummings and Cain both want to extricate themselves from positions of power within the Government before the end of the year? You got it: because on January 1st 2021, we leave the EU and everything is pointing to that being an absolute shit-show. Nobody is going to buy the Covid excuse that will doubtless be rolled out, because that has been handled so ineptly too. Best you distance yourselves from it, eh lads, just as most of them did after the referendum.
Look, don’t get me wrong: I’m glad he’s finally gone. It’s the first thing Johnson has done in his feeble premiership that I’ve agreed with, as it goes. But I think it’s a case of too little, too late.
I have a nasty feeling that Cummings and Trump will be back, though.
But for now, cautious optimism is recommended.
And at the very least, a chorus of this:
I wish Ray had recorded a song called “Don’t Let The Door Hit Your Arse On The Way Out.”
I promise that I’m not going to start all of my posts with these words, but following the last instalment of The Chain I had an email from from long-time reader and Chain Gang contributor George who said that he was “toying with idea of making a cd of Chain 48”. (To any of our younger readers, CDs are what we used to record music on to and listen to music from before streaming and making playlists became things.)
Anyway, I thought this was an excellent idea, because I have a playlist for every edition of The Chain, the purpose of which was partly so that I could revisit and relive the good times and the bad, but mostly so that I could check whether something had already been suggested and therefore was precluded from being nominated again. You may have noticed I’ve been rather lax about this since The Chain returned, and that’s not going to change: I figure in these days of Trump & Johnson, of global pandemics*, international recessions, corruption at a governmental level, and starving children (it was The Chain or a Rant today), there’s more important things to worry about than duplications in The Chain back catalogue.
(*Sit down, New Zealand, I’m not talking about you)
Anyway, the point I am trying to make is that to get all of #48’s songs onto one CD would take a lot of editing choices, so I’d love to hear which songs made the cut – even more so should you decide on making one after you’ve read this one because this week (I say that like I post these every week, rather than every six weeks or so) we have just shy of 4 and 3/4 hours worth of tunes to get through, and I don’t think there’s a duff choice amongst them. Some ropey ones, yes, but duffers, no. But then Kay hasn’t suggested anything this time, so…..so maybe I should crack on.
Oh, and George (Incoming obligatory oblique 1970s TV reference that about 80% of you won’t get): I’m sorry but we aren’t able to return any drawings sent in, but yes, it is a big one, no I’ve never seen one quite that shape before, and no I don’t need you to send me a photo, but thank you for the offer.
OK, so let’s start as we usually do with a reminder of the source material this time around, which was this:
As you might expect, we have a lot of tunes related to Talk(ing), some related to Fear of Music (the album that features on), and then what I believe is the collective term for lots of suggestions on a similar theme: an absolute fuckload of songs linked to a specific city, or the words cities or city. As always, I’ll try to put them in an order that makes some kind of narrative sense (you’ve noticed I do that right?) but if you’re planning on doing yourself a playlist of these, I’d be interested to see if you think you’ve done better (NB: no I wouldn’t. Keep it to yourself, thanks very much).
Not quite first out of the traps this time was Swiss Adam from Bagging Area who, as he will explain, suggests a tune which simply demands to go first:
“Cities should have a theme and luckily we have an ahead of its time piece of ice cool euro dance that found a second life in the Balearic sounds of ’88 and thereafter:“
Now, I don’t profess to know anywhere near as much about that there dance music as our Swiss, but I do know that got used on a tune recorded by David Russell Lee, who used to be known under the stage name of Joey Negro. Lee also recorded under many other pseudonyms, including this one, which throws in a Queen sample for good measure, and I think is what Swiss means when he says “thereafter”, given this came out in 2001:
But since we’re already going off on tangents, here’s a factoid for you (lifted from Wiki, so large pinch of salt at the ready): In 1993, Lee was approached by Take That’s label with a view to working together. Lee suggested they covered an old hit by Dan Hartman, which hadn’t been a hit in the UK but which had become a popular club track in the house music scene. They did as suggested, replacing Loleatta Holloway from the original with – who else? – Scottish songstress Lulu and lo! the boy band’s second number one in the UK was born.
Anyway. Cities. I think next I’ll hand over to Rigid Digit from Stuff & Nonsense to get us back on track:
“Knowing too much about 3rd Division Punk Bands (as I do), the phrase “Cities” immediately brought forth [this]…It’s OK, in a mohican wearing punky thrashing type way, but probably not what you’re looking for.”
Turns out, that’s quite the accurate description. I’m also imagining a purple and black furry jumper:
I gather Westlife are planning to do a cover of that as their comeback single.
Well, we seem to have strayed into the territory of songs with the word Cities in their title, so here’s another couple of suggestions. Firstly, C from Sun Dried Sparrows who says “I’m just plumping for the very first thing that comes into my head as a kind of quick subconscious response and it is…..:”
…which is bound to lighten the mood.
Let’s see what George can conjure up this time:
“Taking the cities from the song, to Manchester City, whose best English footballer was Colin Bell, whose birthday is February 26th, the same date as Michael Bolton…[Oh, Jesus, no…. – Ed]…wait for it…Fats Domino [Better – Ed]…and Johnny Cash, so my song is…:”
I think at this point I should hand back to Rigid Digit, who gave me a whole host of acts who had recorded songs called In The City, the first of which was also suggested by Martin of New Amusements fame:
..and this (just Rigid Digit now):
and (which, if I was still giving points out, would earn a couple for being in one of the coolest films ever, but I’m not, so it won’t – and in any event, I’d have to deduct points for the artist having also been in The Eagles and Ringo Starr & His All Starr Band, surely the least cool bands ever):
Now. Regular readers will know that I have deep-seated hatred of songs being appropriated for advertising purposes, as documented in my S.S.O.S. (Stop Spoiling Our Songs) series. For the avoidance of doubt, I’m with the late, great Bill Hicks on this one:
Here’s a tune which I’ve been meaning to post for a while, and which samples Hicks and explains my thoughts better than I ever could, and which I must credit my old mate Dum Dum (not his real name) for bringing into my life:
See, it’s bad enough when songs we love are appropriated to sell something, but surely it’s even worse when an act we love pops over to an overseas land in the hope that those back home will never find out what they’ve done – and I’m looking at you Bacon and Clooney – isn’t it?:
Mostly because Joey did it too:
But I digress, again.
Rigid’s next suggestion is this: “…or even Starship who built this city on sausage rolls.” Now, we all know what he is obliquely referring to, and that’s the first of the last two Christmas #1s here in the UK. In a week where Tory MPs voted down a motion which would have ensured that children from poor families don’t starve because of the various lockdown restrictions, I thought it probably best if I didn’t post a free link to a song which tried to help. Instead, here’s the (extremely unfunny) video (and yes, this got to #1 in the UK):
…and here’s the song they are referencing:
To be fair, Rigid does offer up a vastly superior song, the title of which references the same source:
So before we set off on a little journey of all the songs mentioning actual cities in their titles or their lyrics (and there’s lots of them), we’ll have a look at all of the suggestions – most of them are mine, admittedly – which feature the word City in the title or in the artiste name. But before we do that, let’s get all of the other ones mopped up.
Here’s the Devonian with, I think, my favourite explanation ever:
“A geographical link… not going off “Cities” though, but rather the fact that the bassist in Talking Heads was the esteemed (albeit not by David Byrne) Tina Weymouth. That got me wondering whether there are any other groups with bassists named after gentrified Dorset coastal settlements. But I couldn’t find any, so I had to settle for a couple of singers instead. Therefore I give you Shelly and Karen Poole and…”
“…which is great and you know it is really.”
Actually, I’m more of an ‘I Am, I Feel’ kinda guy, as it goes, but that’s enough about why I can’t go on public transport without a responsible adult in tow anymore.
“Whilst Devonian was struggling for Dorset-named bass players to link to Tina Weymouth,” pipes up The Great Gog, “I found myself thinking of a feature of said coast that is named in a song – namely the theme tune to children’s TV show Portland Bill (which must have been 20 years old when my kids watched it on satellite telly in the early 00’s).“
I can’t say this rang any bells with me at all, but I have managed to track down a copy of the writer of the theme tune in question, playing…well, it:
Next up is PhonicPat who, undeterred by suggesting the worst record last time out, has come up with a load of absolute bangers this time, starting with this, which kinda follows on given that it’s “made up of the rhythm section of Talking Heads” who just so happen to be husband and wife combo Chris Frantz (drums) and Tina Weymouth (bass and renowned gentrified Dorset coastal settlement):
Talking Heads “…tried to continue without Byrne and released the ‘No Talking Just Heads’ album” Pat continues, “featuring collaborations with Debbie Harry, Andy Partridge and Shaun Ryder amongst others therefore:”
And Pat isn’t finished there:
“[A] David Byrne/Talking Heads link” (as Byrne features as guest vocalist on this):
Now, there’s two things to say about that: firstly Byrne mentions New York at the start, and we’ll be coming on to that city in the fullness of time; and secondly these PhonicPat sponsored words: “…(along with saucy video)“.
In the name of research, strictly so that you don’t have to press play on this next video, you understand, I have watched this, several times, and can confirm that no matter how much you might slow it down or rewind and watch again, whoever had the job of censoring out the wobbly bits did a fine job. Still, best you approach with caution, eh?
Remind me in a bit to give you a related Pet Shop Boys fact, will you?
Since we seem to have landed on band-related suggestions, George is back again:
“From Talking Heads to the Talking Book album by Stevie Wonder, and the track:…”
And moving on to other suggestions about links to the band name we have Alyson from What’s It All About? who says: “We’ve had Dollar [last time out] so in the same vein can I suggest….”
Whoa there tiger! I need to explain the “in the same vein” bit, because Dollar should definitely not be bracketed with The Fizz so lightly. Oh no. For post-1980s fame The Fizz split into two factions: one containing original members Cheryl Baker, Mike Nolan and (sighs) Jay Aston, the other containing Bobby Gee and an almighty war broke out about who should use the name Bucks Fizz to promote their cruise ship wares. And amidst this row, up popped former member of Dollar and never member of the Fizz, David Van Day who, when he wasn’t trying to be the Lawrence Fox of his day and appear all outrageous by dumping his girlfriend live on Channel 5’s The Wright Stuff, elected to appropriate the name Bucks Fizz, go on a tour, sing a couple of their songs and trouser all the cash. The twat.
Anyway, here’s Alyson’s Fizz choice:
What I love about Alyson’s choice is that she could have picked the original of that, by The Romantics, but such is her devotion to ladies having their skirts ripped off as part of a Eurovision dance routine, she simply had to plump for a bit of Fizz. Kudos.
No idea what I’m banging on about? Here you go, complete with withering intro from the much missed Terry Wogan:
Genius pop music. And I mean that.
Alyson has some other suggestions linking to Talking Heads’ name, namely:
Almost time to set off on our tour of cities, have you got your packed lunch and your waterproof coat? Ok, I’ll stall for a bit with some frankly rather clever suggestions.
The source record this time features on Talking Heads’ Fear of Music album, which takes us into the dark territory of phobias. Or, as the Devonian puts it: “Cities is from the album Fear Of Music… which is a Phobia… which is a song by Flowered Up”
It sure is:
Which leads us neatly on to Hal’s suggestions: “Didn’t Cage the Elephant release an album called Melophobia?” he asks, rhetorically. Well, yes, yes they did. And in case you were wondering, Melophobia is the correct technical term for having a fear of music, so here’s something from the album of the same name:
I’ve always avoided them because, well, I thought (and still do) that they have a terrible name, but that’s not bad so maybe I need to reassess.
Anyway, Hal isn’t finished yet: “Which leads us to Phonophobia: The Second Coming by Extreme Noise Terror. Or perhaps not…”
Too late, you’ve said it now.
Phonophobia: The Second Coming is an album by Extreme Noise Terror, and this is one of the songs on it:
Peelie would be proud.
How do you follow that? With this:
Thank goodness for Rol from My Top Ten who kindly steps in to suggest this, which in his eyes “seems an obvious winner”
Frankly, if we’re going to mention bands with the word City in their name, I don’t think we can justifiably omit this lot:
“The other obvious one”, Rol continues undeterred, and I’ll let him carry on because I can’t quite work out where else to place this, “is to jump to Radiohead (as they took their name from a Talking Heads song) and Street Spirit (because there are lots of streets in cities…)
He’s not wrong, there are. I counted at least seven near where I live just the other day, and I think I may have missed some.
I hadn’t finished with bands with City in their names. This lot are definitely less renowned than Mr McKeown and the gang (Bay City Rollers, not Radiohead) and are named after 2000AD’s Judge Dredd comic strip. Play this one loud:
And so we move on to songs with the word City in the title (that aren’t called In the City). You know how until that last little spurt I’ve hardly suggested anything so far? Consider that ended. Eyes down and here we go with the almost entirely forgotten about:
…to an often overlooked gem:
…and the never to be forgotten:
A sort of clever one: this was released on City Rockers, a label synonymous with the electro-clash sound of the early 2000s:
And we shouldn’t overlook this brace of bangers:
…which almost inevitably leads us here:…
…which leads me to this spoof record, but it’s a spoof of a song which doesn’t have a city in it’s title, but I’m sure you’ll get it:
And finally, I was very surprised that absolutely nobody suggested anything from PJ Harvey’s magnificent Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea album, so I guess I’ll have to:
I’m stalling because it feels slightly disingenuous to be suggesting we go on a world tour just as so many cities around the world are locking down to prevent travel and the potential spreading of the Corona virus, so can I ask that you all don your face masks, smear yourselves in hand sanitiser like it’s goose fat before you attempt to swim the Channel, don’t stand so close to me and we’ll be off, safely.
But where to start? “Something from Gerry Rafferty’s very fine City To City album perhaps?” pipes up Rigid Digit again, which seems a perfectly good suggestion, and I’ve plumped, somewhat obviously, for the title track:
And it’s to Rigid Digit that we turn to yet again as we herald the start of The Chain World Tour which, given some places like my beloved Wales have gone into circuit-breaking lockdown today, I must say I feel a teensy bit guilty about, but, nevertheless, here we go.
Truly, there can only be one song to kick this off, and as Rigid quotes: “London, Paris, New York, Munich. Everybody talk about…:“
“I was beaten to M,” moans The Great Gog, “but other songs name-checking a number of cities that sprang to mind were…:”
Not forgetting, as Martin from New Amusements points out, a song which (apart from the Hang the DJ bit) perhaps most perfectly encapsulates where we are right now:
Ok, let’s start, with a whistle-stop tour of the UK. Here’s The Robster:
“I was going to suggest the wonderful Theme For Great Cities but Swiss Adam beat me to it! So I decided to think about songs ABOUT cities. Then I realised I’d be suggesting about 4 million songs and you’d hate me more than I’d hate myself! So in the end I plumped for one city. It was going to be Newport, but the only songs about us are parodies and parodies of parodies. So I chose our neighbours instead and came up with…:
I’m not sure why The Robster thinks this lot only do parodies. Funny songs, of course: it’s their stock in trade. I mean, sure this one is a parody, but it’s the only one I know which actually mentions The Mighty ‘Port in it’s title, and (sorry Rob) from the short time I lived there, seems wholly accurate to me:
Let’s head up to Birmingham next, and I’ll hand the reins back to Swiss Adam for a moment, for he is quoting lines from the source material to guide us to our next destination.
“Birmingham ‘lots of rich people’….” (although I think Byrne was probably referring to B’ham, Alabama.)
For those of us old enough to remember, it’s hard to forget when they fell foul of a Government clause of the 1981 Broadcasting Act which prohibited the broadcast of direct statements by representatives or supporters of 11 Irish political and paramilitary organisations. The restrictions were part of the Thatcher government’s desire to prevent Sinn Féin from employing the media for political advantage.
Yeh, I know. Dry subject.
What this meant in practical terms was that when, in 1987, they appeared on Friday Night Live , a Thames Television programme hosted by Ben Elton, they played Streets of Sorrow but the broadcaster cut to an ad break before they got to Birmingham Six.
Ridiculous as the rules were, a loop-hole meant that we were allowed to hear what Sinn Fein (the political arm of the IRA) had to say, but we could not hear them spoken by a member of the political party. Generally what this meant was the words were read by an actor with a plummy Home Counties accent, but the ludicrousness of the situation was highlighted here, on The Day Today:
This next song actually mentions bombing in Birmingham, although it means it in the “not going down to well at a gig” sense, rather than the more literal interpretation:
In these times of Tiers and Lockdown, I’m not sure we’ll get any better advice than to ‘start drinking til we’re blind’ (again, metaphorically of course – I don’t want any of us to end up in one of those adverts asking people to sponsor a puppy); I know it’s what has got me through writing this post, for a start.
“This mentions Birmingham, Alabama”, offers PhonicPat, and he’s not wrong, it does:
But we’re not quite ready to go trans-Atlantic, because here’s The Robster again:
“I have another one, this time referring to my Devon roots. The nearest city to where I grew up was Exeter – so:”
What I love about IDLES, apart from their records, is that they’re so bloody angry about everything, even their name is in capital letters like they’re shouting that too.
Catchphrase time! Well, if you’re having that, then I’m having this, a song about the nearest city to where I grew up, but where IDLES are VERY ANGRY! about how shit Exeter is, The Long Blondes are just a wee bit disappointed with how dull Peterborough is:
Staying in the UK, here’s Stevie from Charity Chic Music who takes us (much) further Up North:
“David Byrne was born in Scotland – Dumbarton to be precise. So the link is obviously:”
…which not only gets added to the ever-growing pile marked: ‘Must Investigate Further’, it also allows me to include this, which the title obviously references:
Since that also mentions Berlin, we may as well pop over to Europe, y’know, whilst we still can, without having to incorporate a two-week stay in a car park in Kent. Here’s another suggestion from Martin:
Well, this all seems to have got rather gloomy rather quickly. But I have an idea! Let’s pop over to the former capital of Turkey to liven things up a bit:
It became very apparent as I was sifting through the suggestions that there were two cities which featured more than any other, so, after a spot of self-isolation, we’ll pop back to the one in the UK: That London. And first up is another suggestion from Phonic Pat which takes us on a nice little (if expensive) tour of the city:
Here’s Swiss Adam again, quoting lines from the source record:
“…a small city, dark in the day time…”
…and suggesting this absolute shoe-in:
And here’s Martin again with two further capital suggestions:
“For when one is tired of London, one is tired of life, right?” adds Martin. Try telling Alan that:
Obligatory Alan Partridge clip? Tick!
One more from Martin, “…because I love them so…” (me too, mate, me too):
Sticking with Martin’s stream of suggestions, let’s hop over to the other city which seems to be mentioned in song titles more than any other:
“Decidedly not a cover of Ol’ Blue Eyes”, Martin adds. Well no: there’s a more liberal use of the F-word than Sinatra ever committed to record for a start. Plus, without wishing to be pedantic (he says as he is about to do just that), the Sinatra song Martin refers to is actually called Theme from New York, New York, so there was never any real danger of confusion. This next one though, less so:
That’s what being brought up listening to Radio 2 does for you: you remember records like that.
You won’t be surprised to read that I’ve got loads of these, the next of which is by someone who gets a bad rap for being a bit square (I think that’s it; I certainly don’t recall him having done anything unmentionable, apart from Uptown Girl of course), but I think he’s written some absolute corkers, and this is one of them:
New York, here we are, and here’s Odyssey to tell us we fit right in:
When The Strokes released their wonderful and never-bettered debut album Is This It? in 2001 (God, that makes me feel old), there was a difference between the UK and the US release, for the UK release included this, presumably omitted from the US release because it probably wasn’t considered to sit well so close in the wake of 9/11:
Back in time now, to the first record I ever bought, sort of. You can read about that here but in case you can’t be bothered (and if you’ve got this far I can’t blame you for feeling a bit wiped out) here it is:
Remember about seven hours ago, just after The BPA tune, I asked you to remind me to give you a Pet Shop Boys factoid? Well, the time is now: before he worked for Smash Hits magazine (my gateway drug to pop music before I grew up/discovered the NME) Neil Tennant used to work for Marvel Comics, editing out any hint of nipple from the cartoons contained within the pages of the heralded comic book. And that’s not even as funny as the rumour Stuart Maconie made up about him being a fully qualified Rugby League referee.
Anyway, here’s the Pet Shop Boys:
Hold up, Swiss is back with his quoting lyrics and suggesting songs ways:
“Memphis: ‘home of Elvis and the ancient Greeks’”
Leading him here:
And if you’re going to mention Memphis, you either have to include something by a certain Mr Presley (not Reg), or make a joke about being dead on a toilet eating a burger, or post this:
Funnily enough, Mr Simon is going in the opposite direction to Ian Hunter and the Mott the Hoople crew, as suggested by Phonic Pat:
And here’s a group who are considering a move to a completely different part of the US of A:
But as we all know, there’s only one place in America that one should consider moving to:
And that’s where I intended to sign off, were it not for one final suggestion from Martin:
“Oh, and can I add Vegas by Sleeper, just because… well, okay, just because of Louise Wener, really.”
Of course you can: if it doesn’t get cancelled as opposed to being forever rescheduled, I’ll be going to see them perform their debut album Smart, sometime, along with this morning’s postees The Bluetones doing the same with their debut album Expecting to Fly:
And that’s yer lot, except to reveal the actual next record in the actual Chain, which nobody suggested.
Here’s the link: “Talking Heads had a female bassist. So did…“
Which just leaves me to ask for your suggestions for songs which link to 1979 by The Smashing Pumpkins, to be submitted via either the Comments function on this page, or if you prefer anonymity that you ultimately won’t be afforded, by email to firstname.lastname@example.org
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).
Once upon a time, in a galaxy far, far away, I used to write a series here called Friday Night Music Club.
Here is what I wrote way back in March 2015 to explain:
“Friends of mine will tell you I love a themed mix tape or CD.
In my old flat, we used to have what we (ok, I) liked to call The Friday Night Music Club. This would involve us a) getting very drunk b) me shaving my head at some point c) listening to the latest CD mix I’d made (later, when I bought a sound system that allowed me to just plug my iPod in (other mp3 playing devices are available) these mixes got waaaay longer, and probably waaaaay more tedious for the listener) and d) ideally having a bit of a dance.
I’ve done mix tapes and CDs for friends and family all my life (but you already knew that, right?) but the idea here was to make a series of mix CDs which, when played in sequence, you could play at a house party and which would keep the night bubbling along nicely.
Actually, this is something I’d already tried a few years earlier. Friends of mine used to have the most excellent parties at their flat on Hilldrop Road, usually with a DJ playing, but on one occasion the DJ – and for that matter, their decks – couldn’t make it. In their absence I prepared a set of 11 CDs – about 15 hours – which, when played in sequence, took you from aperitifs and welcomers, to “go on have a bit of a dance”, through to off your nut party anthems, and then back down to sitting round talking nonsense about radishes until 6am.
Anyway, back to the Friday Night Music Club. Occasionally I’d make a theme out of the whole thing (hey, if Bob Dylan can do a radio show using the same format, I can do a mix CD, okay?) or do more than one CD and spread the theme out (there was once a 4 CD opus to a former flat mate which deserves a mention in passing) but more often than not the theme would occur to me in the middle of preparing it, and that’d be it…I’d be off….“
As an aside, I appear to have missed some fairly significant landmarks in the history of this place: my first ever post was in September 2013, and if you think my posts are sporadic now, bear in mind that my second post didn’t happen until a year later in 2014. Whatever, a belated 5th anniversary to me!
Anyway, it was when I became rather fixated on the theme rather than with just posting some songs which sound good when played together that I knocked the Friday Night Music Club series on the head.
Since there are now more of us are spending our Friday Nights at home, many of us getting drunk, I figured I would bring the series back for at least a one-off for you to use as your sountrack to your Zoom/Houseparty chats. There might be more, I’ve not decided yet.
Also, this, right here what you’re reading now, is my 1500th post, so I’d like to mark at least one of my landmark posts in a timely manner.
I figured we’d go back to where it all began, to the first few episodes of Friday Night Music Club, but now with fewer attempts to be clever/funny and just more songs to rock your end of the working (from home) week/kids are in bed celebrations.
Actually, I’d hoped to bring this to you last weekend, in time for the Bank Holiday, but time simply caught up with me, the bastard.
The initial intention was simply to repost those early “mixes”, with a few new songs thrown in here and there (and some brutally culled). But as I was working on it, it metemporphasised into something different, perhaps better described as a completely new mix of tunes, very loosely hung on the framework of the old ones, in an effort to reinvigorate them, poncey as that may sound.
If you’d prefer to just listen to this on Spotify, you can do here:
…although a word of warning: Spotify doesn’t have all of the songs in the playlist, so the only real way to enjoy this in it’s full…erm…glory is by ploughing through the links below.
Oh, and a second word of warning: there’s a fair bit of effin’ and jeffin’ on some of these, so perhaps not for those with young ears.
Hopefully, there will be something for everyone in here (there’s seventy tunes in just over five hours, so I bloody hope so!), so push back the sofa, get yourself a pint of White Russian (or whatever your weapon of choice is), dim the lights and turn up the volume. Let there be grooves. Let there be guitars. Let there be cheese. Let there be some surprises, some forgotten tunes and some old favourites. Let there be singing. Let there be dancing.
Tell you what: I’ll play a song or two by way of a little intro whilst you’re getting yourself sorted: