Lost for Words #6

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The Alarm – Sold Me Down the River

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Friday Night Music Club

Today is Andrew’s birthday. Andrew is¬†my older/only brother.

For once I don’t have to take international time-zones into consideration to ensure that he¬†reads my birthday wishes¬†on the right day,¬†for this year he’s home from India and back in the UK for a couple of weeks.

To mark the occasion, I’m travelling up to my folks for the weekend, and to inevitably spend Saturday night sitting up and drinking Jack Daniels with him.¬†Often when I go home, I’ll prepare a playlist of stuff to listen to, but often this has to take into consideration what the ‘rents will put up with having to listen to. So I thought this week, I’d post a few songs here which remind me of my Big Bro because…well, he bought (most of) them when we were kids.

As I was choosing the songs to play tonight, it occurred to me that my musical evolution followed a pretty similar path to his. This is hardly surprising since I used to listen to his records in that period before I started buying my own on a regular basis. We both had: a dodgy rock stage, a dodgy pop phase, followed by some semblance of redemption by way of liking something approaching decent indie records (although he had more than a passing Goth phase too).

I’ve talked about some of the records from our shared past before, here and he even wrote about the songs he bought when he was younger here. I’ve tried to avoid the songs played on those posts and focus on the…less cool stuff. For a start, anyway.

(By the way: my file sharing service Cut Pi, seems to be becoming increasingly erratic, and doesn’t seem to recognise some of the mp3s as being mp3s. It’s been doing this for a while and I can’t work out why. Upshot is, some of the links are shared via Zippyshare. Hope they work okay. And George – you got your wish.)

So let’s break these into the aforementioned three sections.

The Rock Stage

Of course, he had bought AC/DC’s¬†seminal 1980 “Back in Black” album, (and later owned copies of “Let There Be Rock” and “If You Want Blood…You Got It!” (an album title I always thought would have been better suited to Kiss or Alice Cooper)¬†but I imagine you all know pretty much every song from that album, so I’ve plumped for this from their 1981 release, which pretty much sums up us at the time, the band, and how the start of tonight’s post is going to go:

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337. AC/DC – For Those About To Rock (We Salute You)

Shortly after we moved into what became the family home throughout our childhood (mid-1970s), our parents converted a part of the loft into what they christened “The Playroom” – which was fine whilst we were kids, when it housed Andrew’s model train set and my Dr Who toys,¬†but a little embarrassing, in the way that teenagers find everything embarrassing, when they would suggest we took any¬†friends who called round up to The Playroom, which by our teens¬†housed¬†a sofa, a¬†TV and a record player.

At first, the record player was one of those old ones, with the arm that came across and held your next record on the spindle whilst the current record played underneath. But soon, Andrew had saved enough cash up to purchase his first stereo system, one of those with a radio, twin tape deck, a space for records to be stored, a silver beast housed in a teak cabinet with a glass door to the front.

This next album made regular appearances on both turntables; I preferred the album’s title tracks, whilst Andrew¬†always loved this one, ironically, I like to think, given he spent 20-odd years in the RAF:

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338. Black Sabbath – War Pigs

Next, a song which he didn’t buy, but every time I hear it I am reminded of those formative years spent listening to records, and in particular one Thursday evening when we had been banished upstairs to watch Top of the Pops, on which this record appeared, and which led to the pair of us leaping up from the sofa and frantically playing air-guitar, in full on foot-on the monitor mode:

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339. Iron Maiden – Run to the Hills

The reason I think I remember that is because it was probably a turning point, where we both admitted to liking the same records as each other. Up until then, we hated, or pretended to, each other’s musical choices – dammit, we pretended to hate each other (that’s what siblings did when they were that age, right?), having many a play fight which spilt over into full on physical violence, as the snooker¬†cue that I broke over his back once attests (Look, he was bigger than me, I was fully entitled to come tooled up, okay?). As does the broken violin bow we had argued over a few years earlier when we had both found ourselves learning the instrument at Junior School. (I know, I know – fights involving violin bows: it’s not exactly “Angela’s Ashes”, is it…?)

(As an aside: my friends Hel and Llyr went to the Reading Festival in 2005 when Iron Maiden head-lined. They watched them, and afterwards reported that the section of the crowd they were in were distinctly non-plussed by the veteran rockers. Lead warbler Bruce Dickinson, attempting to whip the crowd up into a frenzy would call “Do you remember this one…?”; the crown responded as one “Nope!”)

Particularly indicative of our love/hate relationship came one Saturday night in, I guess, the early 80s. Saturday nights¬†were a family night, which we would spend playing records from my Dad’s record collection. As I’ve mentioned on numerous occasions, Dad’s taste is predominantly Country records, but there was/is diversity there: he likes a bit of jazz, some folk, some classical. There was a series of classical albums that he owned, a spin off from a BBC radio programme, called “The World of Your Hundred Best Tunes” (a name I toyed with giving this very blog, until I realised there may be copyright issues). We were categorically not allowed to bring our own records down to play. But my brother figured out a way round this, and got one song – a cover version of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony by the next band from their “Difficult to Cure” album – played. So offended was I that he had been allowed to have one of his songs played, but I hadn’t (as I had no rock covers of classical records) I spent the entirety of the song under the dining room table, kicking and screaming about “how unfair” it was. (“So Unfair” was, I’m reliably informed, mostly anytime my parents watch any Harry Enfield sketch involving Kevin & Perry, practically my catchphrase when I was a teenager. This was just me warming up, I reckon)

Obviously, I’ve mellowed with age. But I’m still not playing “Summertime” by DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince unless someone comes up with a bloody good reason to. And I mean bloody good.

Anyway, I’m not playing the Beethoven cover either; since they’re unlikely to feature again (more than once more) on these pages, I thought I’d plump for the big single from the same album:

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340. Rainbow – I Surrender

Rainbow were, of course, one of the many bands to rise from the ashes of Deep Purple, another band that we begrudgingly admitted to having a shared passion for back then. Again, Big Bro’s record collection featured several of their albums, but the first I recall seeing – and to this day, the only one I’ve ever purchased myself (Cheers Fopp (Cardiff¬† branch) and your ¬£2.00 shelf!)¬†– was a compilation album called “Deepest Purple”, from which this one is lifted:

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341. Deep Purple – Woman from Tokyo [Single Edit]

And you’ll be relieved to hear, that’s the end of the Rock Stage…

The Pop Phase

…and perhaps less relieved when you see what comes next.

Luckily for you, I’ve talked before – here – about the fact that we both mysteriously somehow came to own our own copies of Billy Joel’s “An innocent Man” album, so I’ll spare you that.

Ditto, I’ve previously posted – here – the two songs from Cyndi Lauper’s “She’s So Unusual” album, which he also owned that are any good (and I’m not going to post “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” as it annoys me even more than the aforementioned “Summertime”)

But here’s a song by a band I’ve never really liked but – and I can say this without fear of correction, as he denies remembering anything from our childhood – I’m pretty sure Andrew joined the fan-club of:

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342. Thompson Twins – Doctor Doctor

Twins, see? And there were three of them. Pfffffft. Funny guys (and a girl). (They were named after the characters from the Tintin cartoons, as everyone knows – The Ed)

Moving swiftly on, to a song which I had completely forgotten about until Brian over at Linear Tracking Lives! posted it a month or so in his wonderful alphabetical trawl through his own record-buying history.

Lifted from her “The Drum is Everything”, much was expected of Carmel and her brand of smoky, jazzy pop, but she feel by the wayside shortly after this was released (although I did pick up one of the singles from the follow-up album, which I’ll feature soon enough, and which utterly tanked):

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343. Carmel – More, More, More

I should at this point talk about the records by groups like The Go-Go’s which he brought back from a summer in America staying with relatives, working on their blueberry farm. Instead, I’m going to post something from an album which contains another of my most disliked pop songs ever by another group I was fairly indifferent to for much of their existence, but with the benefit of hindsight I can see did have some decent pop tunes, particularly in their early 80s¬†synth-pop phase.

But the album Andrew bought by Eurythmics – “Be Yourself Tonight” – does not come from that period. It comes from their just-after-the-synth-pop-phase, and from an album which brought their only UK Number 1, the aforementioned disliked pop song “There Must Be an Angel (Playing With My Heart)” (It’s the over-singing that does my head in). The album spawned two other hits: “Would I Lie To You?”, which I posted recently, and this one, which I’d completely forgotten about until I came to write this, gave it a listen, and decided it’s not too bad at all:

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344. Eurythmics – It’s Alright (Baby’s Coming Back)

But there was one band from his pop period who loomed large. I believe they were the first band he ever saw live (albeit supporting The Police), and, as I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, a band I’ve got a bit of a soft spot for too:

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345. The Alarm – Where Were You Hiding When The Storm Broke?

It was The Alarm more than any other band, I think, that focused my brother’s attentions on records which were…well, let’s say more critically acclaimed shall we?

But first, two more bands that I remember compilation albums appearing amongst his burgeoning record collection. Neither need any introduction:

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346. The Rolling Stones – Get Off Of My Cloud

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347. The Jam – Down in the Tube Station at Midnight

I don’t recall which of these albums first surfaced on The Playroom’s record decks (ha! like it was anyway near as cool in there as that sounds), what I do know is that a) I have recently bought both of these albums on vinyl myself, and b) shortly after The Jam album appeared I remember laughing at my brother for wearing white socks, the only mod accessory one could get away with at our school. Still, at least he didn’t steal them, of if he did, he wasn’t dumb enough to get caught. Ahem.

But these were the first shoots of liking more credible records, for very soon, we were fully into stage three, where he has resided ever since.

The Road to Redemption

There’s only one place to start. The Alarm’s haircuts may have influenced his for many years afterwards, when he could get away with it, but it was the dress sense and image of one of the Sex Pistols that most captured his imagination. He was told many times that he looked like this sneerer, which I’m pretty sure always thrilled him, however indifferent he may have appeared to look.

It’s credited to Sex Pistols, but make no mistake, released in 1978 as the band were imploding, this is a Sid Vicious record in everything but name:

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348. Sex Pistols – My Way

And so, with his black hair sprayed vertically, skinny black jeans with black studded belt and black winkle-pickers or occasionally cowboy boots (which, if memory serves, were brown when he bought them, unable to source a black pair, and which he spent several hours glossing over with a tub of Kiwi black polish and an oily rag), there was only one place he was going to go next:

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349. The Sisters of Mercy – Alice

And of course, this lot, who we are both unified in our admiration of, so it seems appropriate this song occupies the 350th slot in this section:

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350. The Jesus & Mary Chain – You Trip Me Up

He also bought the one and only album by this next lot, who I mention because I cannot hear it without thinking of the summer I spent as an underage drinker, hanging out with him and his mates Rob and Phil, driving round Cambridgeshire’s¬†village pubs, where no-one knew our names, pubs like The Barnwell Mill, which had a massive juke box, and¬†only one record they liked upon it. Once they realised that it didn’t differentiate between the same song having been selected twice by different people, they realised they could have hours of fun, by simply playing this, over and over and over and over and over again, often leaving after they’d heard it once, leaving the rest of the drinkers to sup their way through it another 17 times:

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351. Sigue Sigue Sputnik – Love Missile F1-11

Gradually, our musical tastes have pretty much merged. At no time was this more apparent than when I was at Sixth Form, between 1986 and 1988. As I mentioned recently, on a nightly basis  I found myself preparing mixtapes to play in the Sixth Form common room the following day, and there was one album which Andrew had bought which was invaluable for that. For he is the only person I know to have bought the legendary NME C86 album when it came out (admittedly, he bought the vinyl version, not the original cassette only version, but props are still due).

This band featured on the album in question, but not with this song, which he both realised we loved within the last few years, when discussing how much the much-missed The Long Blondes reminded us of them:

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352. The Shop Assistants – Safety Net

In 1997, our paths crossed back at our folks house, and, presumably after they’d gone to bed we were either playing records, or more likely watching a music TV channel, this came on. I’d not seen him so enthused for some years (actually, I’d probably not seen him for years), and he proclaimed this “the new punk”:

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353. The Prodigy – Firestarter

At which point, I’d better draw things to a close. If I don’t, it won’t be his birthday anymore by the time¬†I post this.

So, one last one, by a band I remember him going to see towards the start of their career, and telling me afterwards how he’d been to see a band who used bashing-themselves-on- the-head-with-a-metal-tea-tray as a percussion instrument. I’d be very surprised if this doesn’t get an airing tomorrow night:

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354. The Pogues – Boys From the County Hell

Happy Birthday Bro. See you tomorrow. I’ll bring the Jack Daniels.

And to the rest of you – well, as I’m away, it’ll be a little quiet around here for the next couple of days, certainly not as busy as it normally is of a weekend. If I have time to write them before I set off tomorrow, there will be a Late Night Stargazing and a Sunday Morning Coming Down, but no promises. Otherwise, The Chain will return on Monday, so you’ve got another couple of days to get your suggestions in if you haven’t done so already.

Til then, have a fab weekend.

Oh, and More Soon, obviously.

Friday Night Music Club (Hot Dogs For Tea edition)

So, it’s over. The great Welsh adventure into Euro 2016 finally came to an end on Wednesday night when a rather fortuitous Portugal managed to put two absolute shinners past the mighty Dragons.

As promised last week, in their honour, this week’s Clwb Cerdd Nos Wener (Welsh for Friday Night Music Club, and this has been checked and verified by a Welsh speaking friend of mine) focuses on musical acts who have come from the Land of Song. Some are obvious, some less so. And there’s a lot to get through, so forgive me if I crack right on.

But first, a disclaimer: many of you will be familiar with The Robster’s very wonderful blog “Is This The Life?“, in which case you’ll also be familiar with his Welsh Wednesday thread. Inevitably, some of the same acts will pop up in this piece as have done over at his place, but where they do, I’ve tried to pick a different song. As I write this, The Robster is on post #94 – or #95 if you count his honouring of the Welsh football team late on Wednesday night – so if you hear anything you like in my post, then I’d recommend you pay him a visit for an absolute feast of all things Valley, like.

Ready? Tidy.

Right, let’s start by getting one of the big hitters out of the way. You all know who the Manic Street Preachers are, will be aware of their sad history and triumphant return, and that their single “Together Stronger” was the soundtrack to the Welsh campaign. So here’s something which I would offer to my dear friends who are heartbroken following Wales exit from the tournament:

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Manic Street Preachers – So Why So Sad (Avalanches Mix)

Don’t be sad. Cherish this. Lawd knows you’ve waited long enough. And you don’t know when it’s going to come around again. Although I suspect you won’t have such a long wait until the next time.

Here’s some Welsh language shenanigans to sort the Daffyds from the Dilwyns: a cover version especially recorded, I believe, for BBC Radio Cymru which I don’t think has been formally released (hence the absence of a proper sleeve):

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317. Candelas – Rhedeg i Paris

“Rhedeg i Paris” translates to mean “Run to Paris”, which seems an appropriate enough reason for them to cover it, what with the Euros being held in France and the final in Paris and everything.

The original of “Rhedeg i Paris” was by a Welsh punk rock band called Anhrefn (or sometimes Yr Anhrefn) which means “Disorder”, who hailed from Bangor, North Wales and who formed in 1982 and lasted until 1995.

They sounded like this:

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318. Yr Anhrefn – Dim Heddwch

(Last of the translations for you tonight: Dim Heddwch means No Peace)

Anhrefn were championed by John Peel, supported Joe Strummer on the Rock Against The Rich tour in 1988, and at one time had Super Furry Animals drummer Dafydd Ieuan amongst their ranks, but I’m sure they would agree the absolute pinnacle of their career came in 1992 when the Social Secretary at the Polytechnic of Wales insisted that St David’s Day be marked appropriately and put on a night of Welsh language acts, with Anhrefn top of the bill, and with a DJ playing nothing but Welsh records in between the acts. If I may misquote Max Boyce for a moment: I know, for I was that Social Secretary.

Years later, when I was in The Halfway pub in Pontcanna, Cardiff, I was approached by a very smiley chap who I half recognised, and he asked me what my name was. I told him, and he asked if I was the person responsible for said event all those years before. I conceded that I was, and he proceeded to buy me a pint and thank me; he was a proud Welsh-speaker, and was very dismayed at the scarcity of Welsh language entertainment around at the time, so had always treasured that night. Which made me feel quite proud, I must say.

Slightly better reaction than I got from the two girls in the Tut and Shive pub (RIP) in Cardiff who recognised me as “that wanker who booked Frank Sidebottom and wouldn’t give us our money back”, but you can’t win them all, I suppose.

Since I’ve mentioned Super Furry Animals, here’s one of there’s, a live favourite, and the B-side to 1997’s “Hermann Loves Pauline”:

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319. Super Furry Animals – Calimero

Back in time now to 1969, and a band who recorded several albums for The Beatles’ Apple label, and chalked up four Top 10 hits in the UK, including this one, which was written and produced by some chap called Paul McCartney. I wonder whatever happened to him?

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320. Badfinger – Come and Get It

The band’s name was a reference to “Bad Finger Boogie”, which was an early working title of Lennon & McCartney’s “With a Little Help From My Friends”, so called because Lennon had, according to legend, hurt his forefinger and only had one finger to play instruments with on the original demos (what happened to all of the rest of his fingers remains unclear) – although George Harrison would later claim that they were actually named after a stripper that the Beatles had known during their stint in Hamburg, who was called Helga Fabdinger. Hmmm. You decide, dear reader.

Perhaps Badfinger are best known, however, as being the creative force behind Harry Nilsson’s tear-jerking mega-smash “Without You”. The song, which was actually the amalgamation of two songs, the verses penned by Pete Ham and the chorus by Tommy Evans, won them the Ivor Novello (also Welsh) “Song of the Year” award in 1972.

The success of the song, and the subsequent arguments within the band over the royalties the song attracted, not only tore the band apart, but also led to the suicide of Evans in 1982.

Time for something more cheerful, I think, and to a man without whom no post about Welsh artistes would be complete:

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321. Tom Jones – What’s New Pussycat?

I’ve started to get the hang of watching major events whilst interacting on Twitter now – Eurovision this year was hilarious – and Tom was featured in one of my favourite Tweets from Wednesday night, courtesy of London Lee, who many of you will know from his excellent “Crying All The Way To The Chip Shop” blog who posted this:

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See? We don’t just restrict our fun and japes to our blogs, you know.

Link ahoy! Yes, one of Tom’s finest moments was “Green Green Grass of Home”, which leads me nicely on to my next record, which I was going to play in my “Same Title, Different Song” thread until I realised that there’s no “…of Home” in the title of the version on the “Songs of Ignorance” album , which I own, although there was on an earlier version of the song, which I don’t:

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322. Murry the Hump – Green Green Grass

Main Murry man Matthew and I have a few mutual friends, and we once spent a hugely enjoyable evening – right before Murry the Hump were due to play the Barfly in Cardiff for what I think was their last ever gig – playing drinking games and getting right royally trashed in The Rummer Tavern in Cardiff (You’re getting a right little tour of my favourite drinking dens in The Diff tonight, aren’t you?). It didn’t seem to stop them playing a blisteringly brilliant set afterwards, mind.

If you like that, I can thoroughly recommend the whole album; each song is a little diamond, just as catchy as “Green Green Grass” and with witty lyrics to die for. Matthew is now in The Keys (note: not The Black Keys), who I’ll probably feature on these pages sooner or later.

Now, some might say that Welsh fashion leaves a lot to be desired. Not me, you understand. Some people. Those other people. So here to dispel that myth are 1980s fashion gurus and ozone layer botherers The Alarm:

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323. The Alarm – Spirit of ’76

See? Cool as toast.

When I was a kid, The Alarm were almost exclusively liked by lads who also listed U2, Simple Minds and Big Country as their favourite bands; stadium rockers, all rousing choruses and fists punched in the air. Bar the occasional song which is the exception that proves the rule, I’m not a fan of any of those other three acts, but I do have to admit to having a bit of a soft spot for Mike Peters and the boys, that song in particular.

Something a little more contemporary now, although the sound is like Belle & Sebastian playing Northern Soul,  and the title echoes back to a certain Northern Soul classic by Frank Wilson that I once had played for me on 6Music (at my own request, I should add):

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324. The School – Do I Love You?

Okay, last one for this week, and I’m going to wrap things up with five words which would normally, understandably, compel many of you to say “Naww, you’re alright, you can stop now if you like”.

Those five words are: Here’s one by the Stereophonics.

Now. I agree that Stereophonics are a fairly dire bunch, but I have to admit to having greatly enjoyed their debut album, “Word Gets Around”, when it first came out. The sound was the same, bar-room rock drudge they peddle to this day, albeit slightly, but not much, rougher round the edges, and with far fewer dreadful ballads, but it was the lyrical quality that struck me most about that album, many of the songs providing little vignettes, stories about real people from the towns and villages the band members hailed from.

But then they went and got famous and started writing guff about how hard it is being on tour (“Have a Nice Day”) or how much the music press hate them and how unfair that is (“Mr Writer”), and that little spark of promise was gone.

Truth be told, it had been almost entirely extinguished by the time the second album, “Performance and Cocktails” came out – with the exception of one song on said album, which is an absolute belter.

So I give you the last decent record Stereophonics ever made:

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325. Stereophonics – The Bartender and The Thief

That’s all for this week; I’ll be back with the second (and final) ten \9poddibly eleven or twelve) in my homage to the Welsh football team and to Welsh music next week.

Oh and just in case you’re wondering what the “Hot Dogs For Tea” in the title of this post refers to, it’s this:

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More soon.

The Election Section #4

Ok, so time for some impartiality. Every song so far has been anti-Tory, so let’s see what we can find that is a) pro-Con (which seems a contradiction in terms, but never mind), and b) a decent tune.

Hmmm….

Er…….

Nope.

I’ve drawn a blank on that one. I wonder if we should read anything into that……?

Let’s skip along.

The Lib Dems. Ah yes, we have a song which perfectly describes the public perception of them:

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Lush – Hypocrite

Okay, I may as well be honest. All of the rest of the posts will be anti-Tory, so we may as well squeeze the rest of the parties in now.

SNP? Here you go:

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The Proclaimers – Letter From America

You don’t need me to tell you what its about…

Plaid Cymru? Have this:

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The Alarm – A New South Wales

I genuinely love that record. I think it’s the male voice choir. You can’t argue (well you can if you like, but you’re wrong and lalalala I’m not listening)¬†but there’s something about¬†a Welsh Male Voice Choir (note the capitals) which means I love this¬†(and for that matter this)¬†more even than I love this. (And I love¬†this¬†quite a lot indeed too). I Can’t Explain.

Mike Peters from The Alarm (usually said in the same breathy tones as JimKerrfromSimpleMinds) has long since been a vocal activist in Welsh politicism and for me, this record is bang on the money – for the time it was written, back in the 80s. Since then, South Wales – and Cardiff in particular – has been regenerated beyond belief. Folks tend to be a lil sniffy about visiting Wales, but I would urge you to do so: it’s one of the most fantastic, beautiful¬†places I ever visited, let alone lived in.¬†Cardiff, wonderful as it is, is just the hub. A mere stone’s throw away¬†are such beauty spots as the Brecon Beacons and The Gower and …ohhh…so much more…..

Ahem. I appear to have come over all Rhod Gilbert in those “Come to Wales” adverts.

Ah, feck it.

As someone who lived in Wales for 20 years and loved (almost) every minute of it, I can maybe do better than that.¬†I’m going to get all adopted-Welsh on your butt. There is no finer sound for getting you all tingly and setting your hairs on end than¬†hearing¬†the crowd at the Millenium Stadium (or Cardiff Arms Park, back in the day)¬†than this: Wembley 1999

The crowd don’t seem particularly engaged, do they? Trust me, by the end they were singing, alright.

Those two old looking geezers in the line up (not dressed in uniform) are Tom Jones, who’ll you’ll recognise and need no introduction to, and Max Boyce, who you might not recognise and will need an introduction to. Reader: Max. Max:¬†Reader.

Max Boyce was, frankly, massive in the late 70s and early 80s, coming up as he did from the folk circuit in the same way that Billy Connolly and Jasper Carrott did around the same time. Billy and Jasper are touted as the fore-fathers of alternative comedy, doing observational stuff which didn’t involve mother-in-laws, wives being really fat, or black people called Chalky.

The very odd thing is that Max seems to have been air-brushed out of the¬†accepted populist history of comedy around this time, and I can’t help but wonder if Max hadn’t been Welsh whether he’d have got such a rough deal¬†in the annals (double n, innuendo seekers move along) of history.

I think it’s about time that was put¬†right.

Even though his act was predominantly about Welsh Rugby – or rather, about Welsh men and their rugby¬†(and affectionately, cheekily,¬†anti-English in a way that only a rugby fan could get away with),¬†Max still managed to find favour with many outside of Wales. The even odder thing is that the fact he was popular¬†outside of Wales never seemed to be appreciated or understood¬†by those inside Wales. When I lived in Cardiff, my friends were often gobsmacked that I knew the words to Hymns and Arias and¬†Sospan Fach¬†(not 100% accurately I’ll admit, but still, I had a go…)

I have to concede, I had a leg-up here. On Saturday afternoons when I was a kid, we’d have to drive over and visit the grand parents. I believe I’ve mentioned this before, so I won’t bore you with it again. Suffice to say, Kris Kristofferson and Johnny Cash were the staple diet of the car’s cassette player, but Max Boyce got a fair look in too. My dad owned copies of “Live at Treorchy” and “We All Had Doctor’s Papers” and they would be played as much as anything else. (My great grandmother,¬†deposited in the car on one such occasion, announced “I have no idea what he is saying, but I’m sure it’s quite rude!”. And yes, she did sound like Lady Bracknell)¬†My dad even burned¬†copies of both these albums for a former flat mate of mine, so desperate was he to prove his non-existent Welsh links.

I met Max once. I was working in Boots the Chemist on Queen Street in Cardiff and I spotted him and hovered around the tills when he got served. He went to one of the prettier, younger ladies who did the till stuff, then looked up at him:

“It’s you, isn’t it?” she said

“Erm…yes…” Max Boyce said, modestly.

“It’s Max, isn’t it?” she said

“Yes, yes I am” said Max Boyce, modestly.

“Max….Bygraves!!” she exclaimed

“Am I fuck!!” said Max Boyce, angrily. “He’s in his fucking 80s!” said Max Boyce not very happily.

So anyway, from those two albums, I give you these:

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and

Max-Boyce-Live-At-Treorchy-374318

But, in an effort to drag this back to something vaguely political, Max wasn’t just about the funnies. Listen to Rhonnda Grey which, to these Anglicised ears, is sadder¬†and more¬†poignant than “A New South Wales”, and paints a picture of the Merthyr, Pontypridd and Caerphilly area I remember from when I first moved there oh so many years ago. Sad and beautiful, see?

Ok so moving on, who’s next?

The Green Party. This seems appropriate:

swedish-house-mafia-save-the-world

Swedish House Mafia feat. John Martin – Save The World

UKIP. Oh, just fuck off, will you? I’m not even going to grace you with a song. We all know what you are.

More utterly biased stuff soon.