Friday Night Music Club

Here we are again, this week with the penultimate part of my six-hour mix, divided into six parts for your ‘delectation’.

And this week I think it’s fair to say we’re going full-on Indie Disco, albeit one from circa 1992 (with a few notable exceptions).

It’s also fair to say that once we’ve got past the chanting monks at the start of the first tune (and what better way is there to start a mix than with some chanting monks, right?) we go very LOUD before settling down to a mix of songs you’ll know, some you’ll have forgotten about, and possibly some that you’ve never heard before. Which is exactly how an Indie Disco should be, in my book: entertain and educate.

Many of these tunes remind me of when I used to DJ at college, but two in particular remind me of the first time I DJ’d in around 10 years or so (I’m excluding the time Llŷr and I DJ’d at a friend’s wedding, as all I did that day was hand him records to play).

I was at a party at Hel’s old flat in North London; our friend Ruth, her decks set up on the breakfast bar which looked out on to the living room-cum-dancefloor, has just performed a mammoth set of around 8 hours. People were starting to leave, and I figured she deserved a break. It was around 4am when I sidled up to her: “Do you mind if I have a go?” She nearly bit my hand off, and went and sat on the sofa with Hel.

Since they were practically my entire audience, every one else having left or crashed out, I decided to play some quieter stuff. My first choice caused both of my audience to break off their conversation momentarily, look in my direction, and go “Awwww!” I repeated the trick with my second choice. “Ahhhhhh!”, sighed the two ladies.

“Still got it,” I thought to myself, and played for another hour or so, until it was time to pack the decks away so Ruth could go home too.

I shan’t spoil things by telling you which two tunes I played, but you’ll spot them alright. Partly because, if you know the tunes in question (and I’d be very surprised if you don’t recognise either of them) you’ll probably make similar noises to Hel and Ruth when they start (I’ve put them together here, for maximum effect), but mostly because I couldn’t resist putting a massive sign-post in right before them.

I’ve done mixes, playlists, call them what you will, for years in various guises, from mix-tapes played in the 6th Form common room, in the motorway ‘restaurant’ I worked in during the holidays at 6th Form and at college (and for a year after I graduated), and in the video shop I pretended to work in after I finally graduated, all were sound-tracked by an ever-growing collection of mix-tapes. DJ’ing at college was almost inevitable, really. And then, when I left college – bar a very short, unpleasant stint working for a mobile DJ in Cardiff in the early 90s, which I’ll tell you about some other time (if I haven’t do so already) – nothing.

It was in those moments, standing in Hel’s kitchen, playing to an audience of two awake people and several sleeping ones, that I realised how much I missed DJ’ing, which is why I do these mixes.

So whilst the last of the six parts will be here next week, I’m already adding the final touches to the one for the week after. In short: tough luck, I’m not stopping just yet.

Time for the usual disclaimer: any skips and jumps in the mix are down to the mixing software; any mis-timed mixes are down to me (although on this one, it’s all about the timing rather than the mixing, as the cross-fader literally didn’t move from it’s central position throughout this one).

A cross-fader, yesterday

I’m not sure if that’s something I should be proud of, let alone advertise, to be honest…

There is, as usual, a little bit of potty-mouthed effing and jeffing, only on one song (I think), and as you cast your eye down the track-listing below, you’ll have no problem identifying which one it is. Previous mixes have contained worse (and next week’s mix definitely does), but it would be remiss of me not slap one of these on it for those of a delicate constitution:

Here you go:

Friday Night Music Club Vol 6.5

And here’s your track-listing:

  • Eat – Bleed Me White
  • Hole – Celebrity Skin
  • Senseless Things – Homophobic Asshole
  • The Futureheads – The Beginning of the Twist
  • Northside – Take 5 (7″)
  • The Fatima Mansions – Only Losers Take The Bus
  • The Smiths – Jeane
  • Billy Bragg – Sexuality
  • Elastica – Connection
  • Sleeper – Inbetweener
  • The Cure – In Between Days
  • Super Furry Animals – (Drawing) Rings Around The World
  • Teenage Fanclub – Star Sign (Remastered)
  • The Soup Dragons – Slow Things Down
  • Strawberry Switchblade – Since Yesterday
  • Blur – Coffee + TV (Radio Edit)
  • Pulp – Something Changed
  • One Dove – White Love (Radio Mix)
  • Prince – Little Red Corvette

Next week is, then, the final part of this series, where the cross-fader is in full effect as I give you over an hour of dance bangers (as I believe “The” “Kids” say, or used to anyway), which tests my actual mixing skills to the maximum, including as it does what my mate Rob insists is “the hardest tune in the world to mix in or out of.”

Tune in next week to see how successful I am.

More soon.

Late Night Stargazing

One Saturday shortly after I moved into my new gaffe, in an rare and unrepeated fit of gusto and determination to get things done, I spent an afternoon unpacking boxes and rearranging furniture for what felt like the umpteenth time.

The inspiration behind this sudden explosion of energy was that I had just bought the new Teenage Fanclub album, wanted to listen to it, but felt guilty about just listening to it; no, I needed to feel like I had done something to deserve listening to it.

And so I spent that afternoon listening to the entire back catalogue (albums only) of this marvellous band who I have adored for so many years now. The idea was that my work would culminate in their latest missive, Endless Arcade, which I could sit down and relax to at the completion of my long list of tasks.

Except I decided I couldn’t wait that long, and so listened to the albums in reverse chronological order, like the dastardly Sequence Round from Only Connect brought to life.

For those of you unfamiliar with their body of work – and I am assuming there must be at least one or two of you out there – the band have developed from a jangly guitared-Big Star influenced indie rock band, to a much more folky, but crucially still jangly, sound, whilst losing none of their melodic or harmonic qualities.

But it was quite interesting listening to them this way, hearing them as they…regressed, I suppose is the closest way to describe it, although that implies getting worse, which certainly isn’t the case here. Ask me to pick my fab four from their twelve studio albums, and it would definitely be the four-in-a-row run they went on between 1991 and 1997 – that is to say: Bandwagonesque, Thirteen, Grand Prix and Songs from Northern Britain, beauties one and all.

That’s not to say I dislike what has come since, but it’s my old theory – about the bands and albums that get you when you’re young and impressionable that stay with you, becoming life-long friends, getting you through the tough times – that applies here, I think.

Actually, there’s a much simpler explanation of why I fell for them; you only have to go as far as the opening couplet from Bandwagonesque‘s opening song:

She wears denim wherever she goes, Says she’s gonna get some records by The Status Quo, oh yeh!

Anyway, Endless Arcade continues in much the same vein as predecessors Here, Shadows and Man-Made, more folky then jangly, but no less potent for it, which is no mean feat given the departure of Gerard Love in 2018 after the release of Here.

How much of this can be credited to the arrival of new band member and for Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci main man Euros Childs is unclear, but you can definitely tell he’s involved. And that’s a good thing, hopefully giving the band a whole new lease of life and allowing them to continue for many more years.

Because whichever period it’s from, I can guarantee that listening to a Teenage Fanclub record pretty much always makes me happy. Or happier, at least.

Here’s the opening track from Endless Arcade, an harmonic strummer with a gently shuffling rhythm, appropriately titled given what I was doing when I first listened to it:

Teenage Fanclub – Home

More soon.

Friday Night Music Club

For quite some time now, I’ve been pondering what it is that is preventing me from posting with the same regularity as I was last year.

I’ve worked it out.

Regular readers will know that I generally sit on a Friday night, have a few drinks and write posts for the next week. But for a while now, I’ve become preoccupied on doing a new mix.

Warning: artist at work excuse incoming.

See, whilst they seem remarkably unpopular, I really enjoy piecing together a long playlist/mix/call it what you will, and that inevitably means a few drafts which don’t quite, to quote Echo & The Bunnymen, cut the mustard.

So, I’ve been working on this mix for some time now, but somehow something always seemed to prevent me from finishing it, be it me tinkering with the running order, or thinking of new tunes to toss in, or some kind of technical calamity, or (more often) listening to it and realising I’ve utterly messed up a mix and I simply can’t bear to have anyone else listen to it.

I’m not going to pretend all of the mixes between tunes here are perfect – there’s at least one which I know isn’t – but I’ve reached the point where it’s close enough to let it go and move on to something else, before I drive myself mad searching for perfection.

So here’s my latest mix, imperfect though it may be; frustrating as it has been, I really like this one, which starts off in the usual way – slowly – before getting into a groove which includes Kings of Leon from before they went stadium and knew how to use a cowbell, a new(ish) track by The Chemical Brothers, an obligatory Soulwax remix, two of the finest female pop stars going: Miley Cyrus & Dua Lipa (not on the same tune, sadly), the occasional hidden ‘joke’ (by which I mean it seemed funny when I first put the songs together, less so now), via Madonna having a short chat with Johnny Cash.

It’s the usual mix of songs you love, songs you’ve forgotten about, and songs which make you think “What the hell has he put this on here for??”. Some might say eclectic, but I couldn’t possibly comment. Think mainly Indie guitar stuff, with a few dance tunes, 80s pop songs and a couple of timeless classics – at least one of which you probably won’t have heard before – thrown in.

As always, no track-listing – I like to imagine your faces when the next song kicks in – but there’s a list of featured artists on the right hand side in case you want to see what you’re letting yourself in for. Which is a treat, obviously. If you desperately need to know what a track is, either Shazam it or, if you’d like to feed my ego, ask me via the Comments at the bottom of this post.

Usual disclaimer: any skips and jumps are down to the mixing software; any mis-timed mixes (and, as I say, there is at least one) is down to me. Either way: Sorry!

One more thing: you may recall that last time out I mentioned that my brother had said he managed to predict what I was going to play next, which annoyed me greatly. No such criticism of the last mix, although he told me he listened to it whilst out on his morning run, so some of the sudden gear changes weren’t helpful. I’ve tried to rectify that this time, with a relatively steady beat and tempo maintained throughout (after you’ve got past the traditional slow start) for those of you who listen to this whilst doing your exercises (not that I really understand what that means). The danger was that it would denigrate into either a Ministry of Sound pumping dance mix or a Top Gear/Best Driving Songs…in the World…Ever! playlist, but I think the song choices just about keep us on the right side of that happening.

Let’s say it starts slowly, gets into a groove, and then has more false endings than a Status Quo single.

I’m a bit annoyed that since I first decided to include it, at least on song here has popped up in an advert – and you know how I feel about them – for burgers, of all things. Rest assured, the advert in question was not the inspiration for the song’s inclusion. You’ll know it when you hear it, I think.

Oh and there are several songs which feature effing and jeffings – “sexual swear words” as Simon Bates used to say at the start of videos – so please avoid if you are easily offended by unfettered vulgarity and sauciness. Look, there’s a Goldie Lookin’ Chain tune which is probably the rudest and most inappropriate (but funny) thing I’ll ever post, so beware.

For a limited time (until I do another one, so y’know, could be months), you can stream or download it via Soundcloud here.

More soon.

Saturday Night at The Movies

Creation Stories is a Sky Original film which attempts to dramatise the life of Creation record label founder, Alan McGee.

A quick glance at the promotional material fills you with hope:

Missing from that is that this was co-written by Irvine Welsh. But there’s Danny Boyle’s name given prominance. And although you may not recognise him from the picture, that’s Ewen Bremner in the main role.

And what a soundtrack that promises to be!

Here’s the trailer:

Looks good, right?

*Scrolls through the rest of the imdb entry*

Look, there’s actual proper acting royalty in the form of Steven Berkoff and Saskia Reeves. Actual comic acting royalty supplied by Paul Kaye, Rufus Jones and Danny John-Jules. There’s Richard Jobson, making a pretty good fist of doing something useful for the first time since The Skids split up. There’s comedians Ed Byrne as…er…Alistair Campbell (I wish I could say: “Now that’s ironic!” here, but it isn’t) and Alistair McGowan as Jimmy Savile (are you sure about this? – Ed). Blink-and-you’ll-miss-them cameos by Bez, Carl Barat and Brix Smith-Start. And practically the entire cast of This Is England is involved (well, the ones who haven’t gone on to super-stardom since, anyway) and that can’t be a bad thing.

Oh wait.

Danny Boyle is just the Executive Producer. Along with fourteen others (not including Co-Executive Producers). Which means he’s put some cash into the project and that’s about the end of his involvement.

Oh wait.

I don’t know if you saw it flash up in the trailer, but this is directed by Nick Moran, who also plays Malcolm McLaren. Hmm, this is starting to look less promising by the second.

And so it proves to be.

There’s an awful lot that’s wrong with Creation Stories.

The first thing is that given the vast amount of Class A drugs ingested by McGee in the film, and given he is played by Ewen Bremner – a fine actor, and no mistake – it becomes almost impossible to shake off the memory of the other drug-guzzling character he has played in a Boyle/Welsh collaboration: Spud in Trainspotting.

There’s nothing here but reminders of Spud’s most iconic moments, the interview:

and the…er…morning after scene:

(The fact that in a review of one film, I’m posting clips from an entirely different film speaks volumes.)

To be clear, I’ve seen Bremner in many other productions, and after the initial recognition has passed, not once did I have Spud on my mind. It’s not Bremner’s fault that Creation Stories is such a dud, he does the very best he can with what he’s been given. I just think they could have cast somebody who didn’t invoke all these memories and comparisons, which have an undesirable effect on his performance and the film. Although I am struggling to think of who that might be.

And what of the crowd-pleasing creatives, namely Boyle and Welsh? To be honest, I can’t see Boyle’s influence at all here, and I reckon the most that Welsh had to do with writing it was ensuring the Scottish vernacular remained honest and true. “I’ve finished the screenplay now Irvine, can you chuck some swear words in, and make sure they’re not snorting when they should be smoking?”

To drive the plot, the film uses perhaps the laziest premise for a biopic: a journalist is interviewing McGee for a retrospective article in an American paper, or magazine, or TV show, it’s not made terribly clear. His story is told via a series of anecdotes, transposed to flashbacks. This method is employed so that the narrative can jump from one momentous moment to the next without really having to explain how we got from point A to point B.

(I wasn’t taking notes, but I also suspect there were several errors in the chronology.)

And I wouldn’t get too excited about that soundtrack, for the moments when you’re swept away by the music are few and far between.

I appreciate, of course, that Creation Records were responsible for a lot of amazing output during it’s all-to-brief tenure as the self-proclaimed “Coolest Record Label on Earth”, and there’s a lot to try and cram into one movie, but there are some acts who are conspicuous by their absence: there’s no mention at all of Super Furry Animals, and they once hired a tank and drove it through London to promote one of their records, which surely would have been visual gold.

Similarly, Teenage Fanclub barely get a mention, overlooking how integral to the label’s success their Bandwagonesque album was. I think I heard a snatch of this in the background in one scene, mind:

Teenage Fanclub – What You Do To Me

McGee is presented as an egotistical chancer, who repeatedly got lucky by being at events where unsigned bands just happened to be playing, and I’m not sure that’s entirely true.

But it’s here that I found the one true highlight of them film, when McGee’s own band are playing in a dingy backstreet London boozer, the Television Personalities invade the stage and take over, perform one song, announce “Here’s our second song. It’s the same as the first one, BUT LOUDER!” once it’s finished, before launching into exactly the same song, which they do indeed played louder than they had the first time.

This song:

Television Personalities – Part-Time Punks

If you’re at entry level, know nothing about Creation Records or Alan McGee, then I’d recommend Creation Stories as a stepping-on point and nothing more.

Otherwise, I’d say avoid at all costs. Stick with the 2010 Upside Down: The Creation Records Story documentary instead.

More soon.

December

I’m sure I won’t be the only person posting this today.

We’re in quite the quandary, aren’t we? To spend time with our family at Christmas, and potentially kill them, or not spend time with our family at Christmas, and tuck into an ASDA Christmas meal for one (other revolting, not as good as your Mum makes, processed Christmas dinners are probably available), pull a cracker by ourselves (not a euphemism) and hope there’s a Morecombe & Wise Christmas Special being repeated somewhere (there will be, there always is).

See, the annoying thing about the Government’s announcement this week that we can have 5 days off trying to beat the virus, is the guidance which came with it.

Because there wasn’t really any guidance at all.

It’s “you can if you want to, but the decision is yours. Don’t blame us.” After a year of unmitigated disaster, it’s PM Johnson trying to make himself more popular by “saving” Christmas. It’s the reverse Grinch, if you like.

And it’s bullshit.

I never thought I hear myself say this (and I can, because I speak what I type) but I think I’d rather the Government had been more forceful in their direction. Tell me to stay at home if that’s what the experts say. Don’t leave it up to me, for feck’s sake.

This had been my plan up until now: in the week or so before Christmas, I’d go and get myself Covid-checked, and then depending on the outcome (assuming I got the result before I was due to travel), I could decide what the best course of action is.

But even then, I don’t drive, so I’d be taking public transport up to see my parents, so it could be that I was Covid-free when I had the test, but picked something up en route.

And then you look at the charts and see that, when we come out of lockdown on December 2nd, the vast majority of England will either be in Tier 2 or Tier 3. Sure, that’s going to get reviewed on 16th December, but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything will change for the better.

So it could be that I’m travelling from a Tier 3 zone, to my parents, and then back again.

It’s so difficult. I’m writing this on Friday night, and at the moment I’ve landed on this: Covid doesn’t have any family of its own to visit at Christmas, it’s not going to take 5 days off, so why should I? Therefore, I should stay at home, and we can do a family get together later in 2021 when it’s safer (hopefully).

But I’ll probably have changed my mind by the time you read this. I already have several times, and the announcement only came yesterday.

Anyway. More than any other year, for making me choose, December, I want to assassin you:

More soon.

The Chain #47

Finished!!!!

Yes, like a toddler who has just finished doing his business but doesn’t know how to wipe his own bottom yet, I stand before you, poking my arse in your general direction, innocent eyes pleading for assistance (I must say, this analogy works loads more than I expected it to), and announcing: The Chain is back!

Yes, I thought I’d have been a bit more prolific in writing these during “lockdown” too. What do you want me to say? I’m not Cher, I can’t turn back time.

Truth be told I’ve got a little too involved with two things recently: firstly, trimming down duplicate songs on my iTunes which prevent me from updating my iPod with anything I’ve acquired in the last twelve months or so; and secondly a DJ-mixing app which I’m determined to get to grips with so you can have some proper mixes by yours truly (which I’m sure you’re absolutely crying out for).

That aside, I’ll start with a recap: last time out, we were left with this as our source record:

Donovan – Mellow Yellow

Ordinarily, the easiest way to come up with a suggestion is to link to any of the words in the title or the artiste (this isn’t a criticism, it’s how I come up with about 90% of my own suggestions), but when you’ve only got three words to work with, it makes things tricky, and some serious creativity (by which I mean showboating) is needed.

So, in terms of a running order this time around, I thought I’d work through the suggestions which link to Donovan, then to Mellow, then to Yellow, and then we’ll all crash back onto our beds as we climax with those that have drilled down a little deeper, so to speak.

But first: a spoiler. Well, two actually. Firstly, nobody suggested the next record in the actual Chain this time around, and secondly there is no Showboater of the Week award this time. Don’t get me wrong, there’s some great records about to cross your path, ingeneously reached, but nothing quite point-worthy (Does anyone know where George, the Undisputed King of Showboating, is, by the way?).

There is most definitely a Worst Record of the Week award. In fact, it’s arguably the worst record I’ve ever posted, and I’ve posted The Wurzels before now (and will do again!).

OK, so let’s kick off with the Donovan related stuff. And where better to start than with something from Rol of My Top Ten fame who seems to have become my standard person to start with, even if his first suggestion this time around was somewhat confrontational:

“Do we also lose points if we mention Jason Donovan? Surely history has been kinder to him that Coldplay?”

I should explain. I signed off the last edition of The Chain with the words: “Minus points to anyone who suggests Coldplay. You’ve been warned.” This was intended not so much as a slur against the band, even though I do think they’re absolute dog-shit (through-gritted teeth: with a couple of admittedly decent songs in their back catalogue that they’ve inadvertently stumbled upon).

Besides, I was rather surprised at Rol’s reticence to suggest a bit of Jason Donovan, given that many years ago, noting my “There’s no such thing as a guilty pleasure” tagline, he had reached out to me for a bit of support in justifying…I won’t say his love of, nor admiration, but…the fact that he quite liked some records by Erinsborough’s second finest pop star (and no, Stefan Dennis is not the first). I duly responded with a post explaining why liking Jason Donovan records is perfectly acceptable, which, since I seem to be a little short of clips and funnies this time out, included this:

Anyway, after much to-ing and fro-ing, Rol was placated by me saying I’d happily post something by the definitely-not-lemon-juice-haired-Aussie wonder, so here we go. And a further explanatory word from Rol:

“I do remember thinking Too Many Broken Hearts was a half decent pop song, even at the time (and I generally hated everything SAW did). Plus, I saw Jason in the War of the Worlds stage show a few years ago and he was much better than Marti Pellow.

Yeah, I know. That’s not saying much.”

It’s a banger, mate. Don’t fret. Chill out. You’re amongst friends here.

And if I may interject with a quote from comedian Kevin Bridges: ““Marti Pellow: the only man who had to leave Glasgow to become a heroin addict”.

Anyway, here you go:

Jason Donovan – Too Many Broken Hearts

And before you ask: no, that’s not the worst record of the week. Not by a long chalk. (Is that a phrase? ‘Tis now.)

So, who else came up with a suggestion to the word Donovan? Well, now’s the time for the fevered mind that is Rigid Digit (the man responsible for all that appears on Stuff & Nonsense), to step up to the plate with his first suggestion, which whilst it links to the Donovan name, gives us a good steer as to the waters we may well find ourselves paddling in later:

“Donovan could’ve become Father-in-Law to a Mr S Ryder from Manchester.

His daughter Oriole shacked up with Shaun, and gave birth to one of his (many) daughters.

And if it wasn’t Shaun, then Donovan’s other daughter was knocking about with Paul Ryder.

The Happy Mondays had the song “Donovan” on Pills n Thrills & Bellyaches (which also samples a bit of Sunshine Superman).

And here it is:

Happy Mondays – Donovan

That would’ve earned points had it ended with “…(which also samples a bit of Mellow Yellow)…” but as it didn’t my shiny points will remain in my silk points purse.

Whilst there were several other suggestions which linked to Donovan the person, there was only one other which linked to Donovan the name. And that was **checks notes**…erm…me:

Cornershop – Jason Donovan/Tessa Sanderson (Version)

Ok, that’ll do for Donovan/Jason Donovan links. Let’s move on to links to the word Mellow. And it’s back to Rol, who, still somewhat reticent and tail between his legs for the Jason Donovan situation, came back with this as a very strong contender:

“Mellow Birds was a particularly rank brand of Instant Coffee that was popular when we were growing up and therefore became my first experience of coffee… which I promptly decided I didn’t like much and stuck to tea. It took me years to try coffee again and see the error of my ways.

Anyway, here are two songs that link vaguely to that….”

Guy Clark – Instant Coffee Blues

Closely followed by:

eels – I Like Birds

Catchphrase time!

Wel if you’re having that, then I’m having this:

Terry Scott – I Like Birds

It was a different time, alright?

Time for a little wander off from the chosen path, I think.

Here is a prime example of a suggestion which goes the extra mile and it’s no surprise to find it’s from Rigid Digit (I promise, other people have suggested stuff):

“Donovan went to India with The Beatles, and whilst there taught Paul McCartney the claw-like finger picking techniques which Macca then adapted (because he was left-handed) and came up with…”

The Beatles – Blackbird

I imagine you will all know that McCartney was due to headline on the Saturday night at Glastonbury this year, until bloody Covid-19 ruined everything. Not that I had a ticket, mind. But as previously mentioned elsewhere on these pages, I was fortunate enough to see him there when he headlined in 2004. He played Blackbird that night, I thought at about the second or third song, but trusty songlist.fm tells me it was tenth in the set. Either way, I remember it as we all sang along, realising what a special set I was watching.

Indulge me for a moment:

Apart from all the deaths and distrust that Covid-19 has brought, I think it’s important that we remember and recognise the cultural impact too.

Anyway, where next?

Well, in case you haven’t been paying attention, we’re still on the section where we’re looking at songs which link to the word Mellow, so what else have we got?

Over to the phoenix from the flames that is The Robster, who I’m sure we can all agree we’re delighted to see has been coaxed out of semi-retirement to start posting again over at Is This The Life which currently has an angry but sad tribute to the man who wrote the song the blog is named after, Tim Smith of Cardiacs. I urge you to read it it, and if you don’t know the music of Cardiacs, follow The Robster’s suggestions. He knows his stuff.

As is more than adequately supported by this:

“Mellow? More tricky….”

Blur – Mellow Song

……is the only one I’m coming up with at the mo.”

As you will see shortly, Rob has done that age-old trick of mentioning but not really suggesting songs, knowing full well that I won’t be able to resist and will end up posting everything he utters. That was at the end of the line of a series of “Well, there’s this…but no…or this…but nah…” mentions which, true to form, will pop up later. (This is not a criticism, by the way.)

Next up is Swiss Adam from bagging area; now to be fair, this is the third of his suggestions (the others will be along shortly), hence it’s brevity:

“Mellow Gold, Beck. He’s a loser baby so why don’t you kill him?”

Beck – Loser

Get crazy with the cheese whizz! (or something similar)

So, on the subject of the word Mellow, who’s next?

** Thumbs through suggestions **

Nope, just me again.

And you can all hang your heads in shame that not one of you suggested this:

Teenage Fanclub – Mellow Doubt (Alternative Version)

Oh, and I have this one too, from an excellent compilation album I picked up a while ago, called Basement Beehive: The Girl Group Underground which I can thoroughly recommend:

The Mellow Dawns – I’m Sorry Baby

And so on to the Yellows, which is thankfully bereft of Coldplay related songs.

Let’s kick off this section with something from Nathan of Nothin’ Sez Somethin’ fame (and yes, I get that yellow is not neccesarily the link Nathan is going for here, but it works so shush!):

“So of course there’s the obvious one: Paul McCartney yelling, clapping, & giggling on Mellow Yellow, playing uncredited bass on the rest of the album…Donovan singing “Sky of blue, sea of green” on…”

The Beatles – Yellow Submarine

There’s another reason I’ve posted that next, and that’s because I figured we could all do with a ruddy good sing-a-long. I’m right, right?

Actually, that’s the first time I’ve listened to that in God knows how many years, and I had a flash-back to singing it at junior school. I, ever desperate to get a laugh out of my friends, would perform the call-back bits in the final verse, paper-and-comb-in-mouth voice and all. I remember our headmaster, face knotted in fury, stalking along the lines of children, trying to locate the source of some unexpected joy, which was not of course permitted. He never caught me (for that). But looking back, what a desperate for attention little squirt I was back then, says the man who writes a music blog in his 50s, as if he’s changed.

Over now to PhonicPat “Here we go, linking the yellow I’ve gone for a a cautionary tale for everybody…”

Frank Zappa – Don’t Eat The Yellow Snow

Next up, the gorgeous C from Sun Dried Sparrows, with another yellow suggestion, but not it’s title, oh no. She’s way too sassy for that.

Keeping it simple: first one that comes to mind is this:

Nirvana – Territorial Pissings

…because ‘if yellow is mellow…’ and it is a great song.

Indeed it is, and one filled with memories for me, for it was a song we used to perform in the band I was in at college. We loved it for it was easy to learn: three chords, a drumfill and lots of thrashing our instruments within an inch of their lives. I tried to explain that most Quo records met at least two of those criteria, but my protestations fell on ironically deaf ears.

I mention this now because there exists some recordings of us playing live, done through the mixing desk and they are, without question, hilarious, for all the wrong, unintended reasons. I’m hopeful that the lead singer can locate said tapes so I can convert them to mp3s to post here, and we can all have a jolly good laugh. Watch this space.

Carrying on with the Yellow theme for now, and I’ll hand you back to Nathan, who has a couple of ideas in this area:

“What about….”:

Yello – Bananas To The Beat

“….a two-fer….?”

Well, no, only if you count a banana as a sex toy, which I don’t, and we haven’t even got onto those sort of smutty suggestions yet. Delete your browser history immediately, young man!

He’s persistent, though, is Nathan:

“How about…”:

Yellow Magic Orchestra – Day Tripper

“…McCartney/Beatles connection…Yellow connection…vague drug reference a la “Mellow Yellow”…a three-fer?

I admire your enthusiasm Nathan, but sorry, no. The source record isn’t by McCartney or The Beatles, and as for the drug reference, well, we’ll come to that soon enough.

In the meantime, you’ll recall I mentioned earlier The Robster’s cunning plan where he names a lot of records that he isn’t suggesting, knowing full well I won’t be able to resist posting all of them. Time to revisit. Brace yourself, for here we go:

“Where do I start with this one? Yellow? Too easy..:”

Throwing Muses – Bright Yellow Gun

“…or…”

Ane Brun – Big Yellow Taxi

I’ve deliberately not picked the original of that one. Click the link and you’ll see why (it’s beautiful). And I don’t just mean because it’s not the Counting Crows version.

Anyway, as you were Robster:

” ‘…Yellow Submarine…’ ” (We’ve had that!) “…I could go on. And on and on…” (I know, I’ve read your blog (just kidding!) received emails from you extolling the virtues of Newport Town FC). “So one that some people might not know is…”

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah – The Skin Of My Yellow Country Teeth

I love that record. It makes me think of David Byrne backed by a teenage wannabe Strokes garage band and it makes me smile whenever I hear it.

If I can just let Swiss Adam squeeze another one in here, that’d be grand.

“The lead rider in the Tour de France wears the yellow jersey, the ‘mailot jeune’, and Kraftwerk did a song and then an entire about the tour:”

Kraftwerk – Tour De France

But The Robster hasn’t finished yet. Oh no. Here he comes with his link to Donovan, which should have featured ages ago but I can’t be bothered with going back and putting it in its rightful place.

Go on then Robbo, fill yer boots:

“I’m going back to brilliant cartoons. Donovan once played himself in an episode of Futurama, which has a character called Fry. The wonderful Stephen Fry (credited as Prof. Joseph Yupik) lent his voice to the title track of (the even more wonderful) Kate Bush’s 50 Words For Snow album.”

Yes, it’s almost August, but here’s a song about snow:

Kate Bush – 50 Words for Snow

Which, fortuitously, leads me nicely onto the final category: all things Donovan-trivia related and associated rudeness.

But before we go there, a couple of the more obtuse suggestions. The Chain Gang may remember that for the past two episodes, The Great Gog has been obsessed with the county of Hampshire. Now, he has a new fixation:

“We move now to Hampstead. The Mellow Yellow album features a track entitled Hampstead Incident. I can think of only two other songs that include this part of North London in their titles:

The Dream Academy – Hampstead Girl

“…and…”

Microdisney – Singer’s Hampstead Home

“(Released in 1987 and 1988 respectively – clearly a time when this area was inspiring Britain’s songwriters)”

Wise words, great mate.

Back then, before the final push, to Swiss Adam from Bagging Area:

“Husker Du, legendary indie punk pioneers covered a Donovan song, Sunshine Superman in 1983. In fairly breakneck style. I’ve just scrolled up and seen another reference to that song but not the Du’s cover. They also covered the theme to the Mary Tyler Moore Showwhich is ace but doesn’t really link to mellow or yellow.

Yeh, but it’s the kind of almost showboating that I mentioned earlier, so I’ll allow it:

Hüsker Dü – Love Is All Around

I think we left Rigid Digit mid-flow a little earlier, so perhaps we should check back in on him:

” ‘…Pills…” is probably the Mondays high point – it’s a bit of a mess after that, and the next album was a bit a a damp squib. They had it, they lost it, and Tony Wilson probably thought it was great art to fail in this manner (and drag his record company down with them). But … Shaun returned with Black Grape proving he still had it (not sure he’s got “it” now – he’s already been on the Help I’m Stuck In The Jungle, Can I Have A Career? thing on ITV, and is probably second or third reserve for a place on The One Show sofa)..”

You haven’t watched him and Bez on Celebrity Gogglabox, I’m guessing. In case there was any doubt, Bez is shown to not be the sharpest tool in the box. Not that there was much debate in this area beforehand. This is a man who is so simple he managed to get himself disqualified for cheating on Celebrity Bargain Hunt. Sadly, we will never know if he’s like he is now because of the vast amount of drugs he took in the (I hate to narrow it down, but let’s say) late 1980s to early/mid 1990s. I think we can hazard a guess. As for Shaun, for a man who claims to have given everything up, his face is a very odd shade of bright pink. It’s almost like he’s self-glazing. Neither know how to complete a sentence without liberal use of the F-word. Not that I object to this, but come on guys, just one phrase without it, please.

But I digress: here’s where Rigid was heading:

Black Grape – Kelly’s Heroes

“…that’s the next link in The Chain, shirley?”

Before we go any further, some background knowledge which you will need to have if what’s to follow is going to make any kind of sense. So have a read of this, which I have pilfered from wiki:

The song was rumoured to be about smoking dried banana skins, which was believed to be a hallucinogenic drug in the 1960s, though this aspect of bananas has since been debunked. According to Donovan’s notes, accompanying the album Donovan’s Greatest Hits, the rumour that one could get high from smoking dried banana skins was started by Country Joe McDonald in 1966, and Donovan heard the rumour three weeks before “Mellow Yellow” was released as a single. According to The Rolling Stone Illustrated Encyclopedia of Rock and Roll, he admitted later the song made reference to a vibrator; an “electrical banana” as mentioned in the lyrics. This definition was re-affirmed in an interview with NME magazine: “it’s about being cool, laid-back, and also the electrical bananas that were appearing on the scene – which were ladies’ vibrators.”

So, to be clear, I have allowed songs which relate to the smoking of illicit substances as that is generally, if inaccurately, assumed to be what the song is about, but none can acquire points. Sadly, since my Mother will be reading this and I’ll have to look her in the eye again at some point, I also have to include any suggestions linked to Lady Love Toys too.

Let’s tantrically wait a while before we submit to the buzzing suggestions which involve items of self pleasure, and we’ll hear from long time-blog faithful, but (I think) first time Chain contributor, Lynchie Fae Enburdeeen:

Donovan’s “Mellow Yellow” includes the verse:

Electrical banana Is gonna be a sudden craze

 Electrical banana Is bound to be the very next phase”

Which leads me on to the greatest marijuana songs ever written – performed by the fabulous twin lead guitar band Man, who would occasionally perform this song with a full Welsh male voice choir.

“I like to eat bananas ‘Cos they got no bones

 I like marijuana ‘Cos it gets me stoned”

Man – Bananas

As Donovan is just mad about Saffron,” pipes exp Alex G, “I’m sure he would appreciate the future Republica vocalist’s contribution to N-Joi’s rave classic ‘Anthem’.”

N-Joi – Anthem

I had, and still have, no idea if it’s true that that’s Saffron or not. It doesn’t sound like her to me. But I’m letting it in with no fact-checking because if it’s not true, then it deserves admission just for the balls-out nerve of making such a claim up.

But whilst we’re on the subject of Saffron, here’s Nathan again:

How about Saffron – singer for Republica…Republica doing…:

Republica – Get Off

And so we land on the Mum-non-friendly bit with another suggestion from Nathan to get..er…our juices going:

“…Electrical Banana – slang for electric vibrator [yes, we know!]…The Vibrators doing…”

The Vibrators – Electricity

Well, if you’re having that then – all together now – then I’m having this:

Suede – Electricity

Next, I’ll hand the reins to Alyson from What’s It All About?:

“During these days of lockdown I’ve been threatening to get my guitar down from the loft and serenade the neighbours. Problem is I only ever got to song number two in my “Teach Yourself Guitar” book, which was (I’ll get to the point trust me) Catch The Wind by Donovan. For years I used to mix up that song and his other one Colours, to come up with Colours Of The Wind which is an entirely different affair from the Disney film Pocahontas, but the next song certainly won’t be that one.

As a follow up I’m going to go for Worst Song suggestion – Donovan also recorded Sunshine Superman. Superman was the name of a novelty record by Black Lace which had been originally recorded by two Italians with the title Gioca Jouer. To quote from wiki: ‘The song featured a number of dance gestures that acted out the lyrics – including sleeping, waving, hitching a ride, sneezing, walking, swimming, skiing, spraying deodorant, sounding a horn, ringing a bell, flexing muscles as a “Macho Man”, making the letters “OK”, blowing kisses, combing and flying like Superman.‘”

Brace yourself. This is unspeakably awful, and fully deserving of the only points I’m dishing out this time for Worst Record:

Black Lace – Superman

Oh God, somebody make it stop, please!

It’s alright for you lot, you can choose not to click the link and listen to it. I had to actively seek that out and listen to it when uploading it.

I may well get bored during the lockdown but not so bored I’m going to resort to the Superman dance (I hope),” Alyson concludes, like that makes what she’s just inflicted on us ok.

“Now that Alyson has taken us down the Superman route,” pipes up Charity Chic, “I’m going for:…”

The Flaming Lips – Waitin’ For A Superman

Turns out, that’s quite the palatte cleanser.

I may as well chuck in another one; this was the weirdest record I’d ever heard when I was a kid:

Laurie Anderson – O Superman

Last couple of suggestions now and since I’ve allowed Alyson and Charity Chic’s suggestions, I may as well let this from PhonicPat in too:

“To follow the Donovan link, The Butthole Surfers did a cracking version of Hurdy Gurdy Man…”

They did indeed, and here it is:

Butthole Surfers – The Hurdy Gurdy Man

And finally, one last one from PhonicPat:

“Picking up on your Coldplay warning how about…”

Mitch Benn & The Distractions – Everything Sounds Like Coldplay Now

Which is pretty much where we came in, I think.

All that leaves is for me to tell you that the next official record in The Chain is this:

U2 – Beautiful Day

…which was selected because Donovan and Bono share a birthday.

I know. Rubbish, right?

Anyway, you know the drill: submit your suggestions for songs that link to Beuatiful Day by U2 via the Comments section below, or by email to dubioustaste26@gmail.com and eventually I’ll get round to writing the next instalment.

More soon.

Late Night Stargazing

I can’t believe I haven’t posted this before, but, unless I forgot to tag it, having trawled through all my older posts featuring this band, it seems not.

Back in 1995, Teenage Fanclub released a four track EP of acoustic versions of songs from their back catalogue.

All of them are magnificent, this one especially so:

Teenage Fanclub – Everything Flows (acoustic version)

For all of you feeling a little out of sorts at the moment.

More soon.

Final-ly

Okay, let’s get this out of the way.

On Tuesday, Liverpool, who my best friend Llŷr had literally supported all of his life, performed a miracle, and managed to beat red-hot favourites Barcelona 4-0 to reach the final of the Champions League for the second year running.

At full time, I found myself more emotional than I’d ever been at the end of a football match – certainly not at one that didn’t involve my team, Tottenham Hotspur – shedding a tear in joy and sorrow that my old mate wasn’t around to have seen it.

The only thing that could possibly top that would be if my lot managed to overturn a first leg deficit on Wednesday and join them in the final.

I’d been at the first (home) leg, where we had been terrible for much of the first half, and marginally better in the second, fortuitous not to have been out of it by the final whistle.

But there was hope. Just a 0-1 away goal deficit to over-turn in the second leg. It seemed do-able. To Dream is To Do.

But after ten minutes, and another goal down, it seemed much more unlikely.

And by half-time, and at 3-0 down on aggregate, I almost turned the TV off.

But then….the unthinkable happened:

I’ve watched the highlights each night since, and still I can’t quite believe it.

When Tottenham and Liverpool reached the semi-finals, Hel – also a life-long Red – and I pledged that if both teams made the final, we would watch it together. Not just because of our own fandom, but for Llŷr; he can’t be here to witness it, so we were going to make damn sure we were together. Because whatever the result, he’d be happy: gutted if Liverpool lost, of course, but happy because he’d know how much it would mean to me.

And obviously, the same applies in reverse from my point of view.

Within minutes of the final whistle on Wednesday, my eyes still full with tears, we’d made concrete plans.

finally

Kings of Tomorrow (feat. Julie McKnight) – Finally

Of course, I wasn’t the only one who got emotional when that final whistle blew on Wednesday night:

So, y’know, this:

cover

Teenage Fanclub – Tears Are Cool

More soon.

The ‘Miss You’ Nights Are The Longest

Other than the obvious health issues, the thing which has annoyed me most about my current condition is the amount of nights out that I’ve missed.

It was my office Christmas night out this week, and despite assurances from Kay that senior management had said it was okay for me to go, I didn’t think it appropriate for someone who hasn’t been to work since late October and who’s been signed off work until early January to attend it.

More than that, my group of best buddies here in London traditionally have a night out every year, where we drink, sing and occsionally dance. This annual event used to be held in The Dublin Castle in Cardiff (ooops!) Camden, but over the past couple of years has moved to The Effra in Brixton. Despite the appearance I may have given by writing lots of posts on here in the past couple of weeks, I’m by no means fully recovered yet (I’ll explain in one of my hospital-related posts shortly) and just not up to it (note: as opposed to up for it, which I definitely am), and so I’ll sadly be missing out this year. Guys, girls: I love you all, and hope you have a blast without me, implausible as that may seem.

But much as I love my friends, even worse than that is missing a load of gigs I had tickets for.

For a start, a few months ago, before I was taken ill, my longest serving (30+ years and still going strong) friend Richie got in touch to see if I fancied going to see Johnny Marr at The Roundhouse. I’d seen Johnny a few years ago at Brixton Academy and loved every minute of it, so I of course agreed. Richie bought tickets, but around a week before the gig, reality kicked in and, extremely reluctantly,I had to let him know my attendance was not going to be possible.

This, lifted from a 6Music performace back in 2014, seems appropriate to post:

p0282jjf
“What do you mean, you’re not coming?”

Johnny Marr – Still Ill (BBC 6 Music)

When Richie bought the tickets for Johnny, rather than paying him for them, I suggested a gig which I’d pay for. That gig happens tonight in Islington’s O2 Academy, and is long-time beloved of us both The Wedding Present, performing their 1988 album Tommy. Again, I had to let Richie know at the weekend that I couldn’t go, but, nice guy that I am, I insisted that was no reason for him and +1 not to go, so I forwarded the tickets on to him this week. Richie: Merry Christmas – I hope they get to you in time, and if so, that you have ruddy swell old time.

Tommy, according to Wikipedia, is a compilation album “gathering the band’s first four singles, their B-sides and selected tracks from two early radio sessions.”

It includes this piece of majestic anguish:

R-1021119-1304811809_jpeg

Galling as it is is missing out on those two gigs, they pale into comparison with my not being able to go a three-night stand at Camden’s Electric Ballroom by Teenage Fanclub.

The gigs had been arranged in support of the release of the remastered versions of the albums they released…well, this explains it nicely:

39913970_1138736429620804_7818673553582063616_n

To make matter worse, it turned out that the gigs woud also mark the end of original member and significant song-writer Gerard Love’s involvement with the band. So, here’s a Love-penned tune from each of those remastered albums:

cover

Teenage Fanclub – Star Sign (Remastered)

cover

Teenage Fanclub – Commercial Alternative (Remastered)

grand

Teenage Fanclub – Don’t Look Back (Remastered)

cover

Teenage Fanclub – Take the Long Way Round (Remastered)

cover

Teenage Fanclub – I Need Direction (Remastered)

Gutted.

If you’d like to read a review of the Glasgow gigs from this tour, I’d thoroughly recommend visiting the ever-wonderful Plain or Pan. It made me sick, not just about what I’d missed out on, but how well written it is, neither of which should have surprised me in the slightest.

More soon.

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