Friday Night Music Club

Hello!

I’ve been struggling all week to come up with anything to play this week. And then, tonight, Friday, a day later than I usually start writing these posts, on my way home from work I found myself¬†thinking about how the way that I get to hear about new music has changed so much.

Nowadays, I’m pretty much reliant on my blogging chums to flag new stuff to me; bar Jools Holland’s “Later…” there’s next to no music television programmes on in the UK these days (Friday night BBC4 documentaries excepted); or occasionally a friend will text, tweet¬†or email me¬†to ask if I’ve heard of someone or other, or to see if I want to go see someone I’ve never heard of live (the answer’s generally yes, as long as a) I’m not skint; b)¬†I can track down at least one song that I like by the suggested act, and c)¬†whether or not I value the opinion of the person asking or not).

When I was a kid, new music did not appear on the Multi-Coloured Swap Shop. Songs that were already hits appeared on Top of the Pops. And I had no idea what the Old Grey Whistle Test was, and would probably would have avoided it even if I did.

No, when I was growing up the only way I heard anything new was via the radio.

And that gave me an idea for tonight’s post. Four words to strike fear into the heart of any of you who endured my recent run of TV show titled posts. To misquote Martin Luther King: “I have a theme..”

Radio.

So I got home, cranked the laptop up, opened iTunes and typed “Radio” into the search window.

427 songs were suggested.

Jesus, this thread is going to finish me off, I thought.

But fear not: by the time I’d eliminated all the songs I have by TV on the Radio, or by Radiohead, or were on a¬†rather fine Radio Soulwax mix I downloaded recently,¬†or any that were on the list because they were the Radio Edit of a single, I was down to a much more¬†palatable amount.

So, let’s crack on, shall we?

And what better place to start than with this stone cold classic:

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273. R.E.M. – Radio Free Europe (Original Hib Tone Version)

I’ve had a life-long love affair with R.E.M. Well, not quite life-long. I wish I could say I bought this when it first came out, but no. I first heard it on the third¬†R.E.M. album I ever bought, a Best of (regular readers will perhaps be surprised to learn it wasn’t the first record I ever bought by the band) called “Eponymous”.

Radio Free Europe¬†first came out in 1981, the band’s first¬†single, later¬†resurfacing as the opening track on their debut album “Murmur” two years later. I didn’t buy anything by the band until 1987’s “Document”, four years and five albums later, but I’d still like to think I was a little ahead of the majority of the pack here in the UK, where most were unaware of them until 1988’s “Green” album, interest growing somewhat by the time 1991’s “Out of Time” came out, and hitting absolute peak with 1992’s flawless “Automatic For The People”.

In the summer of 1989, I somehow found myself¬†at quite a posh garden party, full of young darlings, public school types, who had been quite astonished that I didn’t know I was supposed to kiss the proffered hand of a young lady I was introduced to. Yes, THAT posh. (I shook it, an act which was greeted by quite the round of disbelieving guffaws.)

Anyway, feeling ever so-slightly out of place, I proceeded to get phenomenally pissed, and wandered into a barn where a DJ was trying had to tempt the fops onto the dancefloor. He played R.E.M.’s “Orange Crush” from their Green album, which pleased me (not enough to dance, mind), that was until the DJ took to the microphone and said: “That was R.E.M. a new, up and coming band from the U.S.of A.”

I couldn’t take it, marched over and started to berate him about how they were neither new nor up and coming, how they’d been around for years,¬†how that track was from their sixth album and how that was the sort of thing he¬†really should know¬†if he was going to make it in the cut-throat world of¬†DJ’ing, quietly omitting to mention¬†that I’d only been a fan since the album before.

Musical snobbery, eh? Never gets you anywhere. Oh, what do you philistines know, anyway?

Moving on to 1993, and another of my favourite bands:

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274. Teenage Fanclub – Radio

I don’t have much to say about this, apart from it being the lead single from their “Thirteen” album, that it’s a quite¬†magnificent single from a quite magnificent album, which, for reasons that I don’t think I’ll ever really understand, saw the band completely fail to capitalise on their break-through album “Bandwagonesque”. If you don’t own them, kids, go get ’em. Or, if you hang around here long enough, I’ll probably end up posting every song from them both sooner or later.

Moving on to another artist whose work I’ve admired for a great many years:

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275. Elvis Costello – Radio, Radio

This is from 1978, when Mr McManus was at his snarling best, so much so that following an appearance on US show Saturday Night Live in 1977, he found himself banned from appearing again.

Here’s the story: The Sex Pistols were booked to appear on the show, but for one reason or another – reportedly, a lack of visas – they couldn’t make it and Elvis and his band The Attractions were roped in. His record company wanted them to perform their current UK¬†single “Less Than Zero”¬†– which was about Oswald Moseley, leader of the fascist movement in the UK – but Costello was less keen, thinking the song wasn’t exactly going to resonate with an American¬†audience.

So Costello took the stage, started to play “Less Than Zero” before calling proceedings to a halt a few bars in, announcing “I‚Äôm sorry, ladies and gentlemen, but there‚Äôs no reason to do this song here” before launching into “Radio Radio” instead.

Going so far off message was not appreciated by the powers that be; he wasn’t invited back until 1989. He did, later, however reference it on the 25th Anniversary Show, when, as Beastie Boys were just getting going on “Sabotage”, this happened:

Wow.

Where do you go to top that? Well, you can’t, but I know someone who’ll give it a bloody good go:

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276. The Wonder Stuff – Radio Ass Kiss

Ironically, this track, written by popular rhyming slang Miles Hunt, was only ever released as a single in the US, and not here in the¬†UK, where it remained just another track from their second, not-quite-as-good-as-their-first¬†album “Hup!”. Quite how they got away with lines like “Bugger the plugger” is beyond me. But maybe I shouldn’t be surprised:¬†many years ago I saw¬†Phil Collins being interviewed after he had appeared in US hit TV show “Miami Vice”. Collins related how when he attended the script run through, he’d found that his character repeatedly used the phrase “wanker”, and Collins asked¬†the producers if they knew what it meant.

“Sure,” came the response, “it’s¬†English slang for¬†‘idiot’, right?”

Fortuitously, there was nobody better qualified than Collins to enlighten them as to the true meaning.

One of the other acts who were approached to appear on Saturday Night Live on that night Costello so infuriated the TV bosses, were this next lot. They declined the invitation, giving this as their explanation: “We don‚Äôt substitute for anybody.” Bonus cool points.

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277. Ramones – Do You Remember Rock ‘N’ Roll Radio?

Well, yes, Joey, Johnny, Tommy, Dee Dee, I do, which is why I’m writing this post.

You don’t need me to tell you about the Ramones, now do you? Thought not.

One person whose music is perhaps as far away from the Ramones and Rock’n’Roll Radio as can be is the next chap:

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278. John Denver – Late Nite Radio

Denver is probably best known over here for a) Annie’s Song, b) looking like the Milky Bar Kid, c) his love of the Rocky Mountains, and d) his love of flying. Sadly,¬†he failed to survive the occasion when he inadvertently combined those last two by crashing his plane into one of them.

Time for a musical interlude. Not that I’m saying what you’ve had so far wasn’t musical, just…this sounds like a musical interlude. And that’s a good thing. Particularly when it’s provided by a band who most people only know for one song, and that a remixed version of it, and even more so when to the best of my knowledge, this sounds like nothing else they’ve ever done:

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279. Cornershop – Kalluri’s Radio (Version)

And we’re back in the room.

Next up, a song which first came to my attention via a compilation¬†album called “The Trip: Created¬†by Saint Etienne”. It’s crammed full of Northern Soul, down-tempo numbers, lost and obscure nuggets from the 60s and 70s; if you’ve never heard it then I urge you to track down a copy.

I say it’s created by Saint Etienne, it’s more likely to just be Etienne stalwart and fountain of all pop knowledge¬†Bob Stanley that compiled it.¬†Bob once was kind enough to retweet a link to these pages once, so I reckon I owe him a name-check.

In the real world, knowing that a member of Saint Etienne had read one of my posts would earn me extra bonus points; alas it was predominantly about Bucks Fizz with a healthy portion of Shakin’ Stevens, so I reckon I’m probably in cool point deficit now. Ho hum.

But I digress. This is Douglas Dillard, banjo player (banjoist? banjoer?) and founder member of bluegrass outfit The Dillards, and Harold Eugene “Gene” Clark, singer, songwriter,¬†guitarist¬† and founder member of The Byrds.

Together, they came together under the inspired name of:

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280. Doug Dillard & Gene Clark – The Radio Song

Two to go now, and it’s time for some 2 Tone ska. I don’t feature nearly enough of this kind of stuff on¬†these pages, which some of you poor misguided fools may consider a blessing, so here’s an absolute belter to rectify that:

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281. The Selecter – On My Radio

And so to the last one for tonight, and any post about songs with the word Radio in the title, inspired by my musings on how I rarely listen to the radio these days (6music at the weekends aside, and particularly former Fun Lovin’ Criminal Huey Morgan’s show of a Saturday morning, which is simply unmissable), would not be complete without this polished gem (it features and was produced by Trevor Horn, so it was never going to be anything but polished, now was it?):

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282. The Buggles – Video Killed The Radio Star

What’s extraordinary about that record is that although it’s written from¬†a future perspective, it was actually first released in 1977 (by Bruce Woolley and The Camera Club), before music videos were anywhere near the peak they would become. MTV wouldn’t even be launched for another four years, yet all that the song prophesizes –¬†how polish, image, self-promotion,¬†glamour and glitz would become the prevalent (X) factor, as opposed to, y’know, how good you are and what you sound like – has pretty much come true.

Which is a fairly bleak way to wrap things up, but there you go.

More soon.

Late Night Stargazing

If ever I was asked to name my favourite album by Teenage Fanclub, I’d probably¬†pick their sixth, “Songs From Northern Britain”. And then I’d change my mind and¬†choose “Bandwagonesque” instead. And then I’d think about it a bit more and pick “Grand Prix”. And so on, until I’d gone through the whole lot.

This is from “Songs From Northern Britain” and, as with pretty much every Teenage Fanclub song, it’s flawless:

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Teenage Fanclub – Planets

More soon.

Friday Night Music Club

Welcome back. Time for Part Two of our questions/answers/lost/directions/yes-it-is-quite-a-broad-theme-this-isn’t-it? theme. And to get us going, there’s just one question that needs answering:

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218. Tindersticks – Can We Start Again?

Yet another band I’m surprised I haven’t mentioned already on these pages. This is from their fourth album “Simple Pleasures”, which saw a change in direction from those that preceded it. Almost entirely gone were the earlier albums’ string laden lounge jazzy feel (I really haven’t done them justice there), replaced by a more snappy, soulful sound. “Simple Pleasures” may not be the Nottingham band’s best work, wonderful as it is,¬†but it’s certainly their most accessible, a good stepping on point for the uninitiated. Plus it has an artfully shot¬†nude woman on the cover. So y’know…something for everyone.

And if anyone is going to give us permission to start again, then who better than:

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219. Teenage Fanclub – Start Again

On the bus on my way to work on Tuesday, as there were no discarded copies of the Metro for me to flick through, I had a quick browse of Twitter, where I spied this tweet:

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Serendipity. Tickets purchased, I’ll be off to see The Fannies in Islington come September. I am already very excited. But not enough to start doing that annoying “149 sleeps” countdown thing people do when trying to appear cute.

Moving swiftly on, to this week’s entry into the “Bloody hell I’d forgotten all about them” hall of fame, this from 1992:

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220. Mega City Four – Stop

Named after an area in cult¬†comic “2000AD“‘s iconic “Judge Dredd” strip, and led by a chap called Wiz, who sadly passed away in 2006, my path crossed with theirs in 1989/1990.

My mate Ian was a huge fan, and he was delighted when we managed to book them¬†to play the Student Union venue “Shafts” on his birthday. However, the night didn’t pass without incident.

In the weeks beforehand, we’d had a lot of problems with student-hating Paul Calf types coming onto the campus, and into the Union building and causing trouble: picking fights, smashing the place up, smearing shit all over the gents’ toilet walls. Lovely stuff. Something had to give, and at a meeting of the Student Union Executive, it was decided that anyone trying to gain access to the Student Union building without a Union Card would have to pay a ¬£10.00 entrance fee. I argued against this, because that meant that any locals wanting to come to the gigs we were putting on would have to pay twice: once to get into the building and then again to get into the venue. I was out-voted though¬†and wouldn’t you just know it, the first night these draconian measures were implemented was the night of the Mega City Four gig.

The band were, understandably, not happy, but kind of got round the problem, with my knowledge (I can’t call it with my permission, but I certainly didn’t do anything to prevent their plan being out into action¬†after they suggested it to me),¬†by¬†adding¬†anyone who had to pay¬†to get into the building on to the guest list for the gig. I think they would have refunded the difference to them too, if they could have done.

After the gig, as the roadies and sound crew were disassembling¬†all the gear, I wandered over to have a¬†chat with Wiz, to thank him for coming and putting on a¬†great gig, and apologised for the problem with the door. His response was: “Don’t worry about it mate. It’s not your fault. It’s those faceless bastards that make the decisions, it’s theirs”. I decided against telling him I’d been in the room when the decision was taken and had been powerless to stop it.

There’s a line in “Stop” which always reminds me of that moment:

“They say actions speak louder than words
Whoever they may be
Probably the one’s who’ll break your back
To bolster up their insecurity”

Now, I’m not saying that conversation inspired Wiz to write “Stop” but I’m also not saying that it didn’t…

I fear we are about to get trapped in some sort of stop/start vortex:

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221. The Jam – Start!

I’m not going to dwell on this tune, as JC has recently finished discussing all of The Jam’s singles over at The (new) Vinyl Villain, so I’d suggest you pop over there is you want to learn more (like you don’t already read his blog anyway).

Instead, we’ll swirl around in the stop/start vortex a little more, with some outright, shameless pop:

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222. Erasure – Stop!

¬†They don’t get the credit they deserve, Erasure. Lead warbler Andy Bell is from my home town of Peterborough, so from their first UK hit in 1986 (which coincided with me starting 6th Form), I’ve found it quite hard to ignore them, and there are very few people of my age from who find it hard not to feel a little proud of him. Let’s face it, Peterborough is not exactly a town blessed with famous pop stars; the only other one I’m aware of is Aston Merrygold of JLS, whoever they are.

And someone else…it’ll come to me…no, no, don’t tell me….

That can’t be it, can it? I decided to do some research, and found this: Famous People from Peterborough You can imagine my surprise when I found there were 226 names on the list. You can imagine my additional surprise when I read that number one on the list: “David Michael Krueger, best known by his birth name, Peter Woodcock, was a Canadian serial killer and child rapist“. Turns out, whoever compiled this list hadn’t realised that as well as a Peterborough in the UK, there’s also one in Ontario, Canada, and New Hampshire, USA.

Which makes 226 look like quite a low number, now I think of it.

Maxim from The¬†Prodigy!! That’s who the other one was!! Which gives me an excuse to play this:

But I digress. Erasure were (and apparently still are – who knew?) a fabulous pop band, and “Stop!” is one of my favourites by them, containing as it does, about half way through,¬†that cheeky little keyboard motif lifted from Donna Summer’s “Love’s Unkind”. You know the bit I mean:

And think yourselves lucky I didn’t post a link to former EastEnder Sophie Lawrence’s version.

Whilst we’re on perfect pop moments, let’s have a bit of this:

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223. The Supremes – Stop! In the Name of Love

Back in the days before Miss Ross had elbowed herself to the top of the bill, but also before their photographer learned to give his camera lens a bit of a wipe before commencing the shoot, judging by the quality of the picture they used for the sleeve.

And now for a quick summary:

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224. Biffy Clyro – Questions And Answers

This is one of their earlier singles, from 2003 to be precise, and before they became the unexpected subject of a cover version by 2010 X-Factor winner Matt Cardle.

Does anyone have any clue quite how that was allowed to happen, by the way?

I’m reminded of a Stewart Lee (yes, him again) routine about Jim Davison pinching Jimmy Carr’s jokes, which, in the middle of a much longer piece about Joe Pasquale, you can find here:

 You take my point, I think.

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225. Queens of The Stone Age – Go With the Flow [Radio Edit]

Several years ago, I got…erm…acquainted with a young lady (who, gentleman that I am, shall remain nameless) on a works night out. We discussed our favourite records; mine included a few she didn’t know, hers included a few which made me question her intelligence.¬†She came back to mine and…well, you know…some stuff happened. (See fellow music nerds – it can happen!!).

Before she made her way home, she asked me – yes, you read that right, she asked me – if I’d mind making her a mix CD of some of the songs I had been waxing lyrical about. Her taxi had barely pulled away when I started on it.

I mention this as a cautionary tale, for I compiled said CD, cramming it full of some of my favourites, without pausing to consider what kind of message my selections were sending out. Among them were: Kirsty MacColl’s “They Don’t Know”, The Go-Go’s “Our Lips Are Sealed”, the above Queens of the Stone Age track, and perhaps most ill-advisedly, a mash-up of Spanky Wilson’s version of “Sunshine of Your Love” and N*E*R*D’s “She¬†Wants To Move” that I was particularly fond of at the time, and which had wittily been named “She Wants a¬†Spank”.

Never heard from her again.

I was later told by a mutual friend that my selection or songs had given her the impression that I was some sort of secretive S&M gimp. I would have thought the sex-swing was a bigger clue.

(Just to be clear, that last sentence was a joke)

Ho hum. Lesson learned.

A few years ago, when I wasn’t working, as so often happens with people in the same situation, I found my sleep pattern all screwed up, sleeping all day and awake all night. Generally, my night times were filled watching the late night movies on Film 4, and it was in one such film that I first encountered our next tune. I have no idea what the film was called; it was a British film, set out in the countryside,¬†had very little dialogue, and was quite an unsettling piece. Does anyone know what it’s called? (I know it has also been used in “The Place Beyond the Pines”, but it’s not that).

The record in question was this Bacharach/Hilliard composition:

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226. The Cryin’ Shames – Please Stay

Back to something a tad poppier now, and of course when I talked about Erasure earlier, I deliberately omitted to mention the other half of the pop duo, Vince Clarke. Which is lucky, because here he is again:

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227. Yazoo – Don’t Go

Bands Vince Clarke has been in:

  • Depeche Mode
  • Yazoo
  • The Assembly
  • Erasure

That’s not a bad strike rate is it?

Depeche Mode had their first hit in 1981, as anyone watching the run of old Top of The Pops currently being shown on BBC4 will attest – so that’s 35 years of pop, right there. Impressive.

Which is more than can be said for the next lot. Regular listeners to 6Music of an afternoon will recognise this from a shout-out on Radcliffe & Maconie’s show:

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228. The Blackout Crew – Put a Donk on It

Please remember that if you must put a donk on something, you should seek the bill payer’s permission first.

Back in 1990, there was no such thing as a donk. We had to make do with donk-free records. Records like this:

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229. James – Come Home (Flood Mix)

At the time, James were quite the merchandise marketeers, releasing a stream of clothing – t-shirts, hooded tops, etc etc –¬†all bearing their insignia and the name of the current single. The one for Come Home was based on the sleeve of the single above, meaning it had the word Come on the front, and the word Home on the back. A mate of mine bought one, but rarely wore it, so sick was he of us all telling him “Oi mate, you’ve got come on your shirt”. Juvenile, but funny.

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230. The Mighty Wah! – Come Back

That, my friends, is one of the most glorious records from the early 80s, and isn’t even the best record that Pete Wylie made, either in one of his many Wah-guises (Wah!; The Mighty Wah!; Wah! Heat) or solo or even when he was knocking around with Ian McCulloch, Pete Burns and Julian Cope in the late 1970s. One day I’ll get round to playing you the greatest. You probably already know what it is.

And that’s about it for this week. Just one more to wrap things up; this seemed appropriate given the amount of songs I could have posted, the amount that I decided against posting, and the fact that every time I thought I’d exhausted the topic another one popped into my head. Needless to say, I¬†could have gone on for another week, at the very least. Maybe I’ll come back to it sometime (see what I did there?).

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231. The Animals – We Gotta Get Out of This Place

More soon.

Friday Night Music Club

Regular visitors to the shores of Dubious Taste will know that I compile these weekly Friday Night playlists based on a couple of tunes that I hear during my daily commute to and from work. Sometimes, my permanently-on-shuffle iPod will play me something which instantly makes me think of a theme for the week, or which reminds me of another song, or just gives me a couple of songs which sound good next together.

Sometimes, and it’s a rare event, the stars align and all three happen. Such was the case with this week’s playlist. Since I only had four days in work this week, this was an absolute blessing.

So, shall we get cracking?

Twice a year, the clocks change in the UK. The event is always preceded by many conversations of the “Wait – is that the good one or the bad one?” variety. People here in the UK will¬†often¬†complain when the clocks go forward (the “bad one”), moaning that they have an hour less in bed on Saturday night/Sunday morning. I’ve never understood this. Unless you have somewhere to be on a Sunday, why on earth would you change the clocks before you get out of bed on the Sunday? Just stay in bed until whatever time you like, get up, and then change the clocks. Lose an hour of your day instead of your night, if you like night so much.

And for those who are not in the UK and have no idea what I’m banging on about…I really can’t be bothered to explain why we change the time twice a year, other than because we can.¬†Go Google it if you’re that interested.

Anyway, Tuesday morning started badly for me. I had gone to great lengths to¬†remind all of my work colleagues that the clocks were to go forward on Easter Sunday, had done the same when visiting my parents over the weekend, and then wouldn’t you just know it, totally forgot to change my own alarm clock when I got home on Monday, which led¬†me¬†to over sleep on Tuesday morning. A mad scramble to shower and get to work if not on time, then not too late, followed. (Luckily my boss had done something similar,¬†sending me a text to apologise as she was also running late, having¬†missed her train.)

My iPod had me covered though. Here’s what it decided to play me:

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204. Dusty Springfield – I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself

When your day starts so badly that you’re still getting dressed as you’re waiting at the bus stop (my apologies to the neighbours: that wasn’t a wardrobe malfunction you witnessed, it¬†was a life malfunction, like that makes it any better), the sound of¬†Dusty breathing into your ears certainly settles the nerves.

And then my iPod gave me this:

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205. Teenage Fanclub – I Need Direction

Admittedly, not one of my favourites by The Fannies, but I sensed a certain neediness in my iPods selections, a sense which was only confirmed by the next choice:

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206. Peter Frampton – Show Me The Way

I don’t feel I know him well enough to call him Pete.

Frampton first found fame in the late 1960s as a member of The Herd,¬†where he was¬†dubbed “the Face of 68” (that’s the year, not a slightly disappointing sexual position), which led to the¬†band¬†attracting a somewhat teen audience, which caused issues with the less pretty members of the band. (Also in the band: one Andy Bown, who has been an official¬†member of¬†The Quo ever since 1977. Read into that what you will).

They split shortly afterwards, and Frampton was recruited into Humble Pie, Steve Marriott’s first post-Small Faces project. Despite some modicum of success, Frampton quit in 1971 to go solo.

But despite his early success as part of the aforementioned bands, Frampton’s¬†first three solo albums tanked, and it wasn’t until the release of “Frampton Comes Alive!” in 1976 that his fortunes finally changed. This is not the sort of career path that many artists take: I can’t think of another act who released three consecutive albums to an increasingly lukewarm reaction, and who then decided, with his record label’s blessing, the way to turn things round was to release a live album (although I do wonder if he’d signed a four album deal and this was just a way of fulfilling his contractual obligations).

But work it did, in no small part to his use of the “talk box” on today’s choice, that odd “wah-wah-wah-wah-wah” noise that forms the solo part of the song.

And yes, I know we’re all supposed to laugh at Frampton and poke fun at his records, but “Show Me The Way”¬†fulfills one of the criteria which allows us to like such things, namely: has a band we all agree are cool done a cover version which is not seemingly ironic? The answer here is a resounding “yes”:

Anyway, by now, a theme for my playlist had been identified: being lost, needing help, and then getting advice, instructions or orders. I set about, as I always do, trying to think of songs which fit my self-imposed remit.

Which brings me on to the next track. A couple of weeks ago, I got sent one of those things on Facebook where someone asks you to name your favourite bands, songs, etc; this one was asking me to name 12 albums which had “stayed with me”, which I took to mean albums that meant as much to me now as¬†when I bought them, rather than¬†albums which have become like an unwelcome lodger, sleeping on the sofa, eating crisps, and leaving floaters in the toilet. Although, Lord knows I have plenty of records that fit¬†that description.

One of my choices was this one:

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207. The Housemartins – Over There

I loved The Housemartins, and I’m slightly surprised this is the first song I’ve posted by them. Seriously, what’s not to love about a band who are modest enough to refer to themselves as “the fourth best band from Hull”, who had a penchant for wearing rather fetching cardigans, who were often asked in interviews about their collection of crisp packets, who spawned Fatboy Slim and The Beautiful South,¬†and who also had a drummer who in 1993 was sentenced to spend¬†six years at Her Majesty’s Pleasure¬†for assaulting his former business associate with an axe and setting fire to his house.¬†Three times.

Next up, from the days when 7″ singles didn’t even have picture sleeves, and when Smokey Robinson was still just Bill “Smokey” Robinson, and his band¬†were still just The Miracles and not Smokey Robinson and The Miracles:

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208. The Miracles – Way Over There

Dusty and Smokey in the same post. I spoil you, I really do. I may also have just invented two new hand puppets to go with Sooty and Sweep.

Moving back to the 1980s now, and an absolute classic, and one which had every kid at my school attempted to do both the rap and the rock parts at school discos:

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209. Run-DMC [feat. Aerosmith] – Walk This Way

By the time this came out, we were used to rap records sampling rock records, but this was the first time we had heard two acts from the different spheres actually performing together.

So, whilst we’re fusing musical styles in¬† way that would make Richard Vranch jealous (obscure 1980s television reference for you there) here’s some folksters covering some rock:

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210. The Folksmen – Start Me Up

For those of you not in the know, “A Mighty Wind” is a film brought to you by the same¬†folks as one of the greatest, funniest movies ever: “This is Spinal Tap”.¬†I doubt¬†there is a single music blogger out there who doesn’t adore the endlessly quotable¬†“…Spinal Tap”¬†and “A Mighty Wind”, though less quotable than “…Spinal Tap” does for the world of folk what “…Spinal Tap” did for the world of rock: it affectionately mocks it.

Indeed,¬†The Folksmen are none other Jerry Palter (played by Michael McKean, or David St Hubbins in “…Spinal Tap”), Alan Barrows (Christopher Guest/Nigel Tufnel) and Mark Shubb (Harry Shearer/Derek Smalls). If you haven’t watched it, I urge you to rectify that as soon as possible. I love it almost, but not quite,¬†as much as I love “This is Spinal Tap”, which is bloody loads.

Next, a similarly folky sounding bunch who the internet seems to know very little about. From their one and only album, originally released in 1985 on Go! Discs, but recently picked up and re-released by Cherry Red (Gawd bless ’em)¬†and available here, ladies and gents I give you The Boothill Foot-Tappers:

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211. The Boothill Foot-Tappers – Get Your Feet Out Of My Shoes

I remember reading about them in Smash Hits and being immediately intrigued, but found it difficult to actually track down anything by them. A couple of years later, after we had finished our shift in the motorway restaurant we both had the misfortune to work at, my boss Jane and I would often go to her house, have a couple of drinks, play some records and have a bit of a sing-song (anyone who has ever lived with me knows that this is one of my most basic pleasures in life, and actually is the conception of the Friday Night Music Club).

On one such occasion, I was flicking through her vinyl collection (not a euphemism) and found she had a copy of this album. We popped it on, and I immediately adored it. I left her flat clutching a copy on a C-90 cassette, along with¬†her vinyl copy of¬†Kate Bush’s “The Kick Inside” album, which she told me I could keep for reasons that I can’t quite recall. I still have them both to this day, though I haven’t seen or heard from Jane in about 20 years or so. Which tells you quite a bit about me, I guess.

For some reason,¬†something tells me that¬†Elvis Costello had¬†something to do with them (producer…?), though I may be getting mixed up with his involvement with The Pogues’ “Rum Sodomy & The Lash” album, and being Mr Cait O’Riordan of early Pogues fame (although in 2008 she denied ever having been married to Costello, saying¬†“We weren’t married…It was a kind of Muslim ‘I divorce you’ kind of thing.”)

Or maybe O’Riordan herself is the link, as¬†in my attempts to find something, anything about them (other than numerous references to them being a cow-punk band who only ever released one album…thanks, knew that already!) I find that in 1983 Darryl Hunt intended to ask The Boothill’s Wendy May to join¬†his jazz band “Pride of the Cross”, but when he mentioned this to O’Riordan she apparently laughed and told him that she ought to do it. I dunno. It’s a real head-scratcher and no mistake. Answers on a postcard please (or in the Comments Section would be better).

I digress. Let’s have another tune.

Some of you may recall that I’m in the process of adding the first 75 “Now…!” albums onto my iPod and the next choice was the first that it randomly gave me from the second volume:

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212. Matt Bianco – Get Out Of Your Lazy Bed

Do you remember back in the 1980s, when Saturday morning television wasn’t an endless stream of cookery programmes, but were actually a load of shows aimed at keeping kids preoccupied for a couple of hours? Often, the shows would have pop stars of the day in the studio, and they would be subjected to a phone-in. This was revolutionary at the time, the first time that¬†the general public had been allowed to interact with celebrities, a precursor to Twitter if you will.

People of a certain age will know exactly where I’m going with this:

Priceless.

There’s only one way to follow that,¬†from the 9th¬†“Now..!” volume:

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213. 5 Star – Stay Out Of My Life

People of a certain age will know exactly where I’m going with this too:

Equally priceless.

Moving swiftly on, to a chap who needs no introduction:

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214. Tom Jones – Help Yourself

He knew Elvis Presley, you know. Keeps it quiet, though. Rarely mentions it.

Something a little more contemporary next:

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215. Lykke Li – Get Some

Thought my earlier mention of Andy Bown was going to be the only Quo reference this week? Think again (with obligatory take-down busting mis-spelling):

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216. Quaters Toe – Whatever You Want

Now, you can all laugh about my love of all things Quo, but it turns out even I have limits. In 2008, I found out just what those limits were: a duet with German techno outfit Scooter.

Jesus wept,¬†I’d forgotten just how¬†¬†horrendous that is. If “Walk This Way” is the finest example of rock and rap working sublimely then that is the polar opposite. My ears, my ears! Is it possible to unhear something?

When I started seeking out songs which fitted this week’s¬†theme I initially came up with about ten. As I started writing this post,¬†loads more came to mind, far too many to cover in just one week. So, you lucky people, you get Part 2 next week. I actually prefer next week’s. That’s what I believe is known as “a teaser”, though having just posted the above video you could be forgiven for never darkening my doorstep again.

I can’t possibly leave you with that last monstrosity ringing in your ears, so this seems an appropriate record to finish on:

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217. The Smiths – I Started Something I Couldn’t Finish

Deep breaths, that’s the way. And relax. Normality restored.

More so

How To Do a Cover Version

So, when I was writing Friday Night’s Music Club, I realised that somehow I had managed to avoid posting anything by Teenage Fanclub and vowed to rectify that. And here we are.

I first came across their version of this song on a cassette that was given away free with the NME, a celebration of Glastonbury that included live performances by acts playing at the mother of all festivals. So, this, then, is from their 1993 appearance:

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Teenage Fanclub – Free Again (Live at Glastonbury 1993)

Ah, but we can’t leave it there, I’m afraid. See, bands do many a live cover version, and I’ve kind of made it my rule not to include them in this thread – the cover version has to have had a commercial release to qualify for posting here. I have standards, see.

Lucky for me then, that The Fannies released their version as a limited edition 7″ single back in 1992:

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Teenage Fanclub – Free Again

Many years ago, a drummer friend of mine asked me if I’d seen Top of the Pops the night before. I had, and he went on to moan about a band on that had been he thought sounded¬† derivative and bland. After much pressing, it turned out he was talking about this:

My skin-twatting buddy may have won the argument – for an argument there was, once we had established he was slagging off Teenage Fanclub – had he been able to name the band that he felt they were derivative of.

(It turned out that what had prompted this outburst was the fact that, at his request, I’d gone to see the band he played in doing a gig at the legendary Clwb Ifor Bach in Cardiff a few nights beforehand. Because he knew I was a bit of a music nerd, and had some experience of being in and booking bands -all of¬†which is to come in the main thread of this blog, when I finally get my arse in gear to write it again, by the way – he had asked me to come along, watch them and then provide an honest opinion on them. He had approached me minutes after coming off stage, asked me what I thought; my critique began with the words: “Do you want me to be honest, or nice?” His displeasure at The Fannies TOTP appearance had been fuelled by the need to be told they were better than a band which was attaining commercial success; unlucky for him, he picked the wrong band to use as an example. His band split up about a week later. No need to thank me, all part of the service.)

We all know, of course, that the¬†members of Teenage Fanclub love Big Star, and all fans of Teenage Fanclub love Big Star too, and frankly we don’t care if they sound like them – that’s (one of the many reasons) why we love them.

Free Again is not, however, a Big Star cover – it’s a track by Big Star mainstay Alex Chilton. His version is, I would say, a little more Gram Parsons than Big Star.

This, then, is his take:

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Alex Chilton – Free Again (Stereo Mix With Alternate Vocal)

So today’s lesson is: choose a cover version by one of your idols, but cover it in the style of the band he used to be in, rather than the style he recorded it in.

And as an added bonus, here’s Super Furry Animals (I don’t mention them enough) ¬†from Glastonbury 2007 performing their single “Northern Lites” in the style of….well, I’ll let Gruff explain:

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Super Furry Animals – Northern Lites (Glastonbury 2007)

More soon.

Friday Night Music Club

Evening all.

Just so you know, this week’s selection comes with one of those Parental Guidance stickers right across it.

Also, I’m writing this with the Wales v France match on the TV in the background, so if this is posted a little later than usual, you’ll know why.

Let’s get straight to it; we’ll pick up where we left off last week and a¬†song that in all honesty should be the theme tune to this thread:

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132. St Etienne – Join Our Club

Released in 1992, as you can see as a double A-side with “People get Real”, which the band had wanted to¬†release as a single in its own right, but met opposition from their record label, Heavenly. So, they set about creating the most commercial record they could, and “Join Our Club” was the result. This was the second single to feature Sarah Cracknell, after founder members Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs had ditched the idea of using a variety of lead singers – a concept which features (and works, but very little that St Etienne produces doesn’t) heavily on their debut album “Foxbase Alpha”, but which the duo decided against once they had worked with La Cracknell.

Next, to New Young Pony Cub (or NYPC as they are apparently now known), and this oft-over-looked single from their second album:

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133. New Young Pony Club – We Want To

New Young Pony Club are one of those bands that don’t really ever seem to have quite broken through, despite supporting Lily Allen on an early tour, and also claiming a spot on the 2007 NME Indie Rave Tour, along with the likes of CSS, The Sunshine Underground, and Klaxons. I suspect that CSS and Klaxons, indie-press darlings that they were at the time, probably gained most of the attention on that tour.

An ex-flatmate of mine told me once that the next band¬†had won some TV talent show or another – suffice it to say it was The X Factor – but since he also once tried to convince me that every song title on Andrew W.K.’s “I Get Wet” album has the word “Party” in it, and since his favourite groups were Kasabian and Mumford & Sons, and since he once came home telling me he’d just heard the most awesome¬†Britpop band ever (he was talking about Longpigs, who you know, are alright and of course gave us Richard Hawley, but…), and since he used to eat Doritos whilst sitting on the toilet, I am, frankly, sceptical. If he’s right about any of those points (particularly the Doritos bit), I’m sure one of you will enlighten me.

Anyway, here’s:

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134. Fangs – S.I.C.K.O.

And well, that leads me rather nicely onto this:

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135. The Charlatans – Weirdo

When you think about it, it’s a miracle that The Charlatans are still going, let alone that they’ve been one of the most consistent UK singles bands for the past twenty-going-on-thirty years; when they started out they were considered little more than Madchester wannabes (a tag which, I’m pleased to say, they’ve consistently proved wrong on many times since, having outlived all of the main scene protagonists. No need for The Charlatans to reform, nosireebob. And no seven year wait for a second album, either) and they’ve constantly been beset with drama and tragedy. In 1992, original keyboard player Rob Collins managed to get himself mixed up in an armed robbery being committed by a friend, and unwittingly ended up being his getaway driver. He ended up getting a four month stretch at Her Majesty’s Pleasure for that. Rob’s car related bad¬†luck didn’t end there though: he was killed in a car crash in 1996. In 2013, drummer Jon Brookes died from a brain tumour that had been diagnosed in 2010.

But The Charlatans always seem to bounce back, and of all the varied and wonderful singles they’ve released, “Weirdo” is probably my favourite, not least because the 12″ single contains the US version of “Sproston Green” which they always, but always, end their live sets with.

Anyway, since we seem to have drifted into the territory of songs with vaguely insulting titles, we may as well have the king of such things:

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136. Goldie Lookin’ Chain – Your Mother’s Got A Penis

You have to love ’em, don’t ya?

Well, we’re now into Parental Guidance time, so please only continue if you are above the age of 18 and have the bill-payer’s permission. Or something.

Have they all gone? Good, then I’ll continue.

A song now that I mentioned in passing on these pages some time ago:

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137. Fatboy Slim – Star 69

…and which I’m therefore not going to dwell on any further here. It just fits here, okay?

Many years ago, when I was working as a “chef” in a motorway service station restaurant, I bunked off one Sunday to spend the day with my friend Richard, who had invited me and a few others round for a day of roast dinner, drinking and watching films. The only film I can recall that we actually watched that day was “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” starring Whoopi Goldberg. I remember nothing about the plot.

So why am I mentioning this now, I hear you wonder? Well, the only thing that I do¬†remember is Richard commenting that “Nobody swears like Whoopi swears”. That may have been true in 1986, but no longer I fear. I say this not in any kind of “Kids of today, eh?” rhetoric, but because…well…here’s Peaches:

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138. Peaches – Fuck The Pain Away

Saucy.

And speaking of sauce, no selection of rudeness would be complete without a nod in the direction of the Purple One:

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139. Prince – Sexy M.F.

Much as Fatboy knew that releasing a single with the words “What the Fuck” repeated quite a few times was unlikely to attract much airplay and so tucked it away as a AA-side, Prince knew to abbreviate his title and provide an edited version for radio use.

A change of pace now. Just as bands often punctuate their live sets with slower songs to give the audience a chance to get their breath back, so does Friday Night Music Club, and the moment has arrived where I get to do one of the things I love to do most these days: have a good sit down.

Still room for some abbreviated swears though.

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140. John Grant – GMF

And whilst we’re having a few moments of quiet cursing, here’s eels, who aren’t afraid to dispense with the abbreviations:

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141. eels – It’s A Motherfucker

Many years ago, I had a (now ex) friend round at my place once when I happened to play¬†“Gorecki” by Lamb. If you don’t know the song, it’s a quite, quite¬†beautiful, fragile¬†thing, not a million miles away from Massive Attack’s “Teardrop”, neither of which would¬†be out of place in my “Late Night Stargazing” thread (and which will feature there soonish, once I stop thinking of songs I’d rather post there). Anyway, she had never heard it before, and made me play it another two or three times. As she loved it so much, I did what I often do when someone tells me they like a song I’ve played them: I made her a mix CD with it on.

She was very grateful. Or rather, she would have been had I not, in her words, “totally ruined it” by placing this song immediately afterwards:

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142. Tenacious D – Fuck Her Gently

I am 46 and single. That may go some way to explaining why.

It seems appropriate, then, that I post this next: a¬†band that I’m quite simply staggered to see I’ve not posted anything by here before. This is something I shall have to rectify immediately:

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143. Teenage Fanclub – Some People Try to Fuck With You

I went to see The Fannies (see? even their nickname is rude) in Bristol about ten years ago, when they were promoting their greatest hits album “Four Thousand Seven Hundred and Sixty-Six Seconds ‚Äď A Short Cut to Teenage Fanclub”, and I took the opportunity to purchase some official merchandise, namely a t-shirt bearing the band’s moniker upon¬†on it. I have subsequently learned that wearing such a t-shirt gains you some disapproving looks from people who are unaware of the band’s existence. I no longer wear it outside.

It’s not often that I post a Number One single on these pages, but here is one such occasion:

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144. Cee Lo Green – Fuck You

Of course, Cee Lo had to change the lyrics to “Forget You” in order that the single might attract any airplay, but we’re having none of that cleaned-up-version nonsense here tonight.

Now to something a lot less well known, which is a shame as it’s rather fine:

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145. The Bird and The Bee – Fucking Boyfriend

(Apologies if I seem to be rattling through these now. It’s because I am. Got a bit too engrossed in the rugby, see).

So, finally, the closing track from their first album “Life’s Too Good”, an album which properly introduced us to the wonderfully bonkers Bjork (though the Festive Fifty-topping “Birthday” had seriously whetted our appetites).¬†This is one of the few songs in their canon not to include¬†Einar butting in with an incoherent rant, a practice¬†which always came perilously close to spoiling their songs in my book. Almost, but not close enough.

I was once discussing Welsh popsters The Automatic with a work colleague, who bemoaned the presence of Alex Pennie on their early records (Y’know, when they were kinda famous); he hated his vocal style and found him intrusive.

“Ah,” I said, nodding sagely “like Einar from The Sugarcubes.”

He looked at me blankly.

“I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

I have rarely felt older.

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146. The Sugarcubes – Fucking In Rhythm And Sorrow

That’ll do you for tonight.

More soon.