I had a blast watching Glastonbury over the weekend, so the next few posts will be related in some way to what I saw.
When I was a kid, stashed away amongst a load of maps and magazines under a coffee table in the living room, was this:
Here’s what wiki has to say about it:
“The Brand New Monty Python Papperbok was the second book to be published by the British comedy troupe Monty Python. Edited by Eric Idle…The book contained an amalgamation of print-style pieces and material derived from Flying Circus sketches.”
I flicked through it a few times, but didn’t really understand it. One night, the movie which mashes up loads of Python sketches, And Now For Something Completely Different, was shown on TV; I was allowed to watch it, and some of the book made a bit more sense. Lumberjack, dead parrot, etc etc.
Around the same time, I was aware that something called Monty Python’s Life of Brian was causing an almighty fuss, with allegations of blasphemy levelled against it. It was 1979, I was 9 years old, and had no hope of seeing the film for many years. Harumph.
One day, we went to visit my Auntie Chris and Uncle Jerry, and as all the grown-ups chatted and drank tea, I looked through their record collection. And there, nestled amongst there, was the Life of Brian album.
Now, if you’ve ever heard the Life of Brian album, you’ll know that it features lots of clips from the film, all connected by a running gag about a continuity announcer who isn’t very good. I didn’t know that at the time, but was fairly confident that the record contained some swear words. And when you’re 9 or 10, hearing adults use swear words is the sort of thing you yearn for. Because you haven’t discovered girls, alcohol, fags or drugs yet. A simpler time, right?
I needed to hear this album, but knew I couldn’t just ask them to pop it on the turntable. I needed to borrow it. But I knew that if I asked to borrow it, that request would be denied, given the adult content.
I flicked through the rest of their record collection, and spotted The Beatles’ Red & Blue albums.
You all know what I mean when I say that. These:
For the uninitiated: the Red album covers all their singles from their early “pop” days, the Blue one covers their later, more *ahem* experimental period.
Here was my chance. I sat looking at their record collection for ages, until someone noticed me, and asked if I was alright.
“Can I borrow your Beatles albums please?” I asked, all sweetness and light.
When anybody asks to borrow records I own, I am immediately flattered and agree. This has cost me over the years, with records never returned by people I’ve lost touch with. But my enquiring tone struck a nerve. Of course I could borrow them!
And so I slipped them from the racks, hiding the Life of Brian album in between.
Back at home, with only one turntable in the house, I had to bide my time and wait for my parents to be out before I could hear the deluge of filthy words I anticipated the Life of Brian album would bring. I listened to the Red & Blue albums whilst I waited for that moment to arrive.
And if had to pinpoint the moment when I fell in love with pop music, and with Greatest Hits albums as an “in” to an artists back catalogue, then this was it.
After his set on Saturday, which I also rather enjoyed despite myself, Noel Gallagher was interviewed by Jo Whiley. He said (I’m paraphrasing now, so this is not verbatim) “When you’re a kid, and had no money, you’d go looking through the vinyl racks. You couldn’t afford to buy all of their records, so Red & Blue albums, they’ll do.” I hate it when I agree with Noel Gallagher about anything.
I’ve written here before about how, when I was younger, I used to buy the Greatest Hits and Best Ofs albums of bands I thought were important and that I should know more about, and this is where that came from.
I now wanted to know more about this band, and, having loved both Red & Blue, I didn’t really care which period I investigated first.
I was a member of our local library at the time, and to raise some extra income, they had, for a small fee, started renting out music cassettes (Note: not CDs, cassettes.)
And there, one day, was one by The Beatles, called Rock’n’Roll Music Vol. 2.
I paid the 20p levy, took it home and slotted it into my cassette player.
And that was that. Smitten.
Here’s the songs which feature on this (what I now see as a) knock-off compilation, the sort of thing usually found in service stations:
…which I’m sure you’ll agree, knock-off compilation as it may be, it gives a fairly broad summary of the band’s creative output.
But there’s one song there which, if pushed, I would have to say is my favourite Beatles song; it’s on that album up there, but also on what, in my opinion, is the greatest Beatles album: Revolver.
I was, therefore, delighted when Paul ‘Fab Macca Wacky Thumbs Aloft’ McCartney played it on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury on Saturday night, and so your uplifting, positive start of the week record this week is:
If Paul “Fab Macca Wacky Thumbs Aloft” McCartney’s set is half as good as his Glastonbury headlining set back in 2004 was – I was there, it was fantastic, and a darn good crowd sing-a-long to boot – then we’re in for a treat.
And, given this weekend is Glastonbury’s belated 50th birthday, I’ll be gobsmacked if this doesn’t get an airing:
Well, we’ve got to the end of the week, and we’ve also got to the end of another segment from the FNMC vault, where we bring our weekly revisit to Vol 4 to an end.
And, as with the previous instalments, I’ve tweaked it a bit from when it first made an appearance as the last hour of Vol 4, y’know, just to keep you (ok, me) interested.
So what delights do we have waiting for us this week, I hear you ask?
Well we kick off with some Hot Chip, before opening the “Where Are They Now?” vault to let the Lo Fidelity Allstars out to play for a while, then a roller-coaster ride through a few “feats.”: The Chemical Brothers with (uncredited) Noel Gallagher and (very much credited) The Flaming Lips, 808 State with MC Tunes, along with killers from Duran Duran (yeh, you read that right), The Stone Roses, The Beatles, Underworld, and then just when you think it’s all over, up pop Blondie and Barry White to bring the whole damn thing to a close.
And ok, I have broken the golden rule of featuring the same act twice in the same mix (actually, I’ve kinda done it twice), but I think you’ll forgive me when you listen to this one.
Here comes the admin (all together now): any skips or jumps are down to the mixing software; any mis-timed mixes are down to me; all record selections are, of course, mine.
By which I mean, a Friday Night Music Club mix for Good Friday, as opposed to “At last! A good Friday Night Music Club!”
I’ve “ummed & ahhed” about posting this one to be honest; whilst I am not in the least bit religious – I’m firmly in the “religion is the opium of the people” camp – I do think it’s important to respect those who do have faith, no matter in which God, and I didn’t want this to come across as me taking the mick.
Besides, if I’m going to happily accept some extra days off work at Christmas and Easter, it would be rude to bite The Hand that feeds me.
That said, when you’re trying to find pop songs which in some way relate to the biggest Christian festival of the year, of which there are few, and whilst also trying to stay away from obviously religious songs, of which there are many, one does worry that what I’ve prepared may see disrespectful. Genuinely, it’s not meant to be, and I hope it isn’t.
See, I think I’ve dodged that particular pitfall by trying to make this mix so that it roughly follows the events of Easter weekend (as far as I can remember from junior school), starting a little earlier with Judas’s betrayal of Jesus, through Peter’s repeated denials, the crucifixion and resurrection, with some stuff about chocolate and bunnies thrown in to cover the Saturday, when nothing much happened. Apologies if I have misremembered the ‘true’ sequence. If only someone had written it down in some kind of, I dunno, good book that I could have referred to…
I also wanted to avoid including anything from obvious film or theatre portrayals, so there’s nothing fromAndrew Lloyd-Webber and Tim Rice’s Jesus Christ Superstar or from Monty Python’s Life of Brian. Oh ok, there is a teensy bit of Life of Brian in there, but don’t fret, it’s not Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.
For those of you pondering Dylan’s inclusion, he’s in there for two reasons: firstly, the song title seemed pretty apt, and secondly, because of the infamous moment when someone shouted “Judas” at him at a gig after he dared to start playing an electric guitar. This of course only makes him the third worst Judas that I’m aware of: there’s the obvious Iscariot chap at #1, and of course Sol Campbell at #2, for leaving Tottenham on a free transfer to go to play for Arsenal. (See, if I was religious, I’d have forgiven him by now.)
Anyway, as I say, I’m honestly not trying to offend with this mix (so there’s no need for an ‘effing and jeffing’ warning this week), rather the idea is to offer up a way that non-Christians can enjoy the weekend’s activities from a musical perspective, and who knows, perhaps even engage in a way they haven’t done for a long time.
In 1982, entering the third year of her first term as UK Prime Minister, with unemployment reaching the highest figures for years, and with riots breaking out across the country, Margaret Thatcher was doubtless glad of the distraction of the Falklands War. It galvanised the country against an outside enemy and very much took the attention away from all that was wrong at home.
40 years later, you could almost hear the sighs of relief from 10 Downing Street when Russia started its current campaign against Ukraine: at last, something to stop people talking about all those lock-down parties.
Even though we’re not directly involved at this point, some think that our #CrimeMinister Johnson has had a good war so far, and they’d be right, if by good you mean making it almost impossible for the millions of refugees fleeing their pummelled homeland to come here, however temporarily.
Rest of The World: Yes, of course you can come in. Yes, as many of you as need to. No, it doesn’t matter if you haven’t already got family here.
The UK: Form a queue, will you chaps? No not here, in a completely different country. No, not that one, THAT one. Yes, at the desk with one chap sat at it. He’ll give you nice 48-page document to complete which, once you’ve filled it in, we’ll have a think about whether we want to let you in or not. It’s very simple to complete; look Question 1: how would you describe your ethnicity? Question 2: can you pick fruit?
And then last week, the news many of us had been waiting for: the Metropolitan Police began to issue fines to those who had attended any of the parties at No 10 which Johnson had once tried to claim didn’t happen, and if they did, he didn’t know anything about them, and he definitely didn’t attend any of them, even though they were held in his house.
The first round of fines were, to be honest, a little disappointing, with 20 fines being issued, the only real rib-tickler being Helen MacNamara, who, ironically, had been the government’s director general for propriety and ethics until 2020.
Hang on? 20?? Is that all?? There were more people in that infamous photo that got leaked:
Incidentally, when the Partygate controversy was unravelling, much was made of the inaction of the police officers positioned on the door of No 10. What were they doing during all of this? Why didn’t they intervene? And, truth be told, I felt a little sorry for them. What were they supposed to do? Leave their post, go into No 10 and shout hands up? This would at best have merely prompted this lot to start doing the YMCA dance.
Anyway, yesterday the big news, a whole load more fines had been issued….
…and this time, some big fish had been hooked, with PM Johnson and Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak both being issued with fines.
Both were quick to issue grovelling apologies and to declare they had accepted and paid the fines. The apologies were so heartfelt, that Johnson was clearly reading from a script during his TV appearance, although to be fair he did manage to stick to it without getting lost, or starting to bang on about Peppa Pig, or trying to roger the lectern.
Frankly, I don’t know why he’s pretending to be sorry (I mean, we all know that when he says he’s sorry, he means he sorry he got caught – just ask any of his ex-wives, marriages which ended because Boffing Boris couldn’t keep his de Pfeffel in his trousers): he has always wanted to make history as Prime Minister, and he’s done that now. He’s the first ever sitting Prime Minister to commit – and be caught committing – a criminal offence whilst in office. Congratulations!
Poor chap, he wanted to emulate his idol, Winston Churchill, but this just makes him the Richard Nixon of British politics. Although Nixon at least had the decency to resign after he got caught out.
It’s been a tricky couple of weeks for Rishi too; a while ago, I mentioned how his wife, Akhshata Murty, was a major shareholder in Infosys, a technology company who had, until very recently (and not until it had been ignored when the UK government was issuing sanctions against companies with links to Russia and Putin) an office in Russia.
It transpires that since 2016, Infosys is among companies that shared £100m in public sector contracts between 2015 and 2021. It was also one of nine partners in a £10m contract with Tory-run Westminster City Council last year, secured a £25m IT contract from the Tory-run East Sussex County Council.
In entirely unrelated news, I’m sure, it has now been revealed that Murty holds non-dom tax status, which means she is not required by law to pay UK taxes on her overseas income. Her wealth is estimated at around £500m, the majority of this coming from her shares in Infosys.
So, at a time when we are all expected to be paying more through increased VAT, higher National Insurance contributions, increasing fuel and food bills, how can it be right that the spouse of the man largely responsible for all these things can get away without contributing to the public purse themselves?
Nothing to see here, move on.
Back to Sunak himself, then, who launched another impassioned defence of his wife, giving an interview to The Sun where he said: “To smear my wife to get at me is awful…She loves her country like I love mine. I would never dream of giving up my British citizenship.”
Except: it has also come to light that he held a green card, allowing him to live and work in the United States, for 19 months after he became Chancellor. This effectively meant he was declaring himself a permanent resident of the United States for tax purposes, long after he became a member of Parliament. Coincidentally, he gave up the card before making his first visit to the United States as chancellor last October.
Although it features on my favourite Beatles album, this has always been my least favourite song on it, mostly because it seemed to be pop stars moaning about having to pay tax, and by association an endorsement of that ghastly habit pop stars used to do: spending a year abroad “for tax reasons.” I see it in a slightly different way now….
There were rumours that, before he hit rocky waters, Sunak was briefing against and leaking about Johnson, with one eye on taking over as PM when Johnson could finally hang on no longer. It strikes me that if he really wants to deliver a killer blow to Johnson, whilst restoring some of his battered own reputation, then perhaps Sunak’s next move should be to resign from his position as Chancellor of the Exchequer, thereby demonstrating what an honourable politician should do when found guilty of breaking the law when in office.
Probably wishful thinking on my part (not that I wish Sunak were PM, I should stress, just that Johnson wasn’t), but you never know. Watch this space…
Anyway, to return to Partygate, it seems more fines are to follow, and surely more of those must be heading in the direction of some of our more prominent government ministers. If there was a game of Pin-The-Tail-On-The-Donkey at any of the parties, then Gavin Williamson or Dominic Raaaaaaaaab will be in trouble. Priti Patel, though, she’s probably safe, as nobody’s going to invite her to a party, because as yet there is no party game which involves turning milk sour just by looking at it.
Much as Johnson and his cronies may wish it would all go away, I think it’s safe to say the party isn’t over yet:
Firstly, I wanted to do a mix unlike the Not Christmas one, which I thought strayed a bit too far into the territories of cheese or chart music. Whilst it served a purpose, it wasn’t really indicative of the sort of tunes which usually feature here.
This one, though is a corker, even if I do say so myself.
Regular readers may recall that way back in the late 1980s, I started DJ’ing at college because I was fed up with being able to guess what song the indie DJs would play next. So imagine my annoyance when my own brother told me that on a previous mix he’d been able to predict my next choice a couple of times. Grrr.
But this mix has proved to be such a pain to complete; when I came to do it today, it tells me that some of the tunes have been played 22 times, which gives you an idea of how many times I’ve tried to get this one right. Pretty much once a week, since Christmas.
What’s gone wrong all those times? Well, on more than one occasion professional pride kicked in: I’ve messed up a mix between tunes, so have elected to start again.
On more than one occasion, preoccupied with playing Solitaire or Candy Crush just to have something to do whilst recording the mix, there’s a sudden, irretrievable silence where the next record should be. Oops!
Once I forgot to stop recording until an hour later, and, triumphant at how the mixes had worked out, I couldn’t understand why the mix lasted over 5 hours, until I listened to it.
The other problem is booze. More than once, I’ve taken drink to such an extent that I’ve forgotten I was doing a mix until the silence after one record has finished hits home and startled me awake.
Last weekend, I got to the third record from the end, and suddenly woke up to silence and realised I’d messed up again. That’s not an indictment of the standard of the mix, by the way, more an example of how drunk I’d gotten.
Even last night, when I finally nailed it, it was my second attempt of the night, having got through most of the mix when I had a drink-spillage event, which I thought I’d sorted, until, four records from the end, suddenly the sound cut out whilst the tunes kept playing and I had no idea if it was still recording the sound or the sound of silence.
Anyway, we’ve got here, and this has been a real pain, so if you could take a listen, that would be great.
I will confess that I have broken the golden rule of not featuring the same act more than once in this mix; this wasn’t intentional, but as the various run-throughs progressed, I simply forgot said acts already appeared as “featuring” acts. One is deliberate. Sue me (Please don’t).
Time for the usual disclaimer: any glitches, skips or jumps are down to the software or the uploading/downloading process, and nothing to do with my limited mixing skills.
Oh, and the usual “effing and jeffing” warning applies; it seems I’m incapable of doing a mix which doesn’t include more than the occasional swear.
I’m not posting a link to download here, other than the one to Soundcloud, where you can either download or stream it.
I couldn’t be bothered with the last ones, but I’ve done it this time: you’ll see a list of all the acts featured in this mix at the bottom of the page, so you can check whether this one’s likely to be your cup of tea before going to the hassle of actually listening to it. If you’re particularly short of things to do, you can try to guess which song I’ve picked by which artist. There’s fun.
But by way of a description: pretty much all life is here, from indie rock to 60s California hippy-shtick, some Old Skool dance classics, some hip-hop and some soul classics via some Northern Soul belters via some TV show theme tunes (sort of); there’s some hoary old rock and some psychobilly, and a couple of tracks which should have featured in a New post by now, but the bands in question played the 6Music festival last weekend so you’ll probably know them intimately by now. And, of course, there’s The Fall.
Easy on the cheese this time, there’s even some poetry so we can all pretend we’re intellectual. You’ll have chance to dance, sit and recover for a few moments, before getting back on it again.
Available for a limited time (i.e. until I do the next one), you can download or stream this on Soundcloud here:
So, slightly obscure link dispensed with, let’s address the elephant in the room. There are at least two Charlie Browns, the one in the Coasters song of the same name, and the one that we’re probably all more familiar with, from the Peanuts cartoon.
So let’s kick off properly with songs which reference Charlie Brown, and I’ll hand over to Hal, who explains and suggests thusly: Thirty years ago (30 years FFS…) Jim Bob & Fruit Bat released 101 Damnations which featured…:
Hal’s “FFS” is of course Young People Speak for “For Flip’s Sake” [Are you sure about this?- Ed], and is often used when one encounters an anniversary of an event considered to have occurred relatively recently, but which transpires to have actually been much earlier, thereby adding to our feelings of old age and past-it-ness. Don’t be fooled by Hal’s use of Young People Speak, for he is as old as we are, which is why he can conjure up such selections from hitherto forgotten bands such as Carter USM (as I believe the “kids” on “the” “street” refer to them these days, if they do at all).
Hal is to be celebrated for refusing to accept that thirty years have passed since that monumental occasion, oft referred to in history books, as the year of Our Lord 19 Hundred and Ninety, the year Carter USM released their debut album.
And he’s right to refuse to accept this, because as the album came out in January 1990, it’s actually 31 years now. Sorry, Hal!
Staying on the Charlie Brown link, here’s Swiss Adam from Bagging Area who not only suggests a song linked to our favourite wibble-mouthed cartoon character, he also introduces a much needed touch of class:
Echo and the Bunnymen’s Bring On The Dancing Horses covers Charlie Brown in its first 2 lines via Jimmy Brown and Charlie Clown…
…but within the cartoon strip known as Peanuts, there are many characters who do have their names crop up in songs. Peppermint Patty is one of them, and here she is again, courtesy of TheRobster:
‘And then there’s Nobody Speak by DJ Shadow & Run The Jewels which includes the line “I walk Charlie Brown, Peppermint Patty, Linus and Lucy / Put coke in the doobie roll moodies to smoke with Snoopy'”
There was also a band called Linus, continues TheRobster, but I don’t know much about them. Me neither, and I’m not going to do your research for you.
Another Peanuts character, picks up the Devonian, is Lucy Van Pelt, whose name was taken for a Japanese indiepop band, and then they had a trademark issue with whoever owned Peanuts after Charles Schultz died, so they changed it to Advantage Lucy instead. But from their days as Lucy Van Pelt, I’ll suggest:
Now when somebody describes a band as being “Japanese indiepop“, I had a pre-conceived idea of what they might sound like, but it was nothing like that. And that’s a good thing – my favourite “never heard of this lot before, must explore” record of the month.
And then there’s the eponymous Charlie Brown himself, or, as Phonic Pat deliberately mis-spells it to get it fit his next suggestion, Charly:
Along with his already aired suggestion Rigid Digit also laid claim to some other records being linked, which weren’t (unless I were to allow pun-related tunes, which I might be minded to if we were a little short on the ground of suggestions, which we’re not), so I’m afraid Hang on Snoopy (because it’s Sloopy, not Snoopy) and Oasis’ Don’t Look Back in Anger (because he admits to making up that the line “And so Sally can wait” was written after Noel Gallagher had been watching an episode of Charlie Brown), are both disqualified.
However, nothing wrong with his two Brown suggestions, even if he does claim that they are both related to Charlie’s non-existent siblings:
Finally, says Phonic Pat, somewhat presumptuously, but I like this suggestion a lot, so I’ll let it slide, linking the trombone sound the adults make in the Peanuts films, how about a trombone take on the Pixies?
Although I get the impression he’s not proud of the second choice, as he signs off with the words “I’ll get my coat.” No need, Stevie, really: all of those rock’n’roll and doo-wop records of the late 70s and early 80s were my introduction to pop music, and I have a soft spot for them all, from Shakin’ Stevens to The Stray Cats, from Coast to Coast to Rocky Sharpe and The Replays.
What Stevie has inadvertently done there is lead us seamlessly into those suggestions which consider the Coast aspect of the source record, and here’s The Great Gog with another couple:
I also wonder what type of Coaster the band were named after. A mat on which one places a drink, a person that lives by the sea or a fairground ride? Assuming the latter, we could have:
Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking: Crikey, he’s been a bit quiet with his own suggestions this time. And you’d be right. Those last two were mine, and so are all of the rest left to go, all of which are Coast-related. To say I picked up on that and ran with it would be an understatement. So strap yourselves in, here we go:
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:
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.
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).
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….”
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 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?”
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…”
…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:
“…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..:”
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…”
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:
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:
“(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 Show…which 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:
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.
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 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…:
“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:
…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 email@example.com and eventually I’ll get round to writing the next instalment.
Tonight, a song which is exactly the same age as me.
Released as a double A-side (with Come Together on the flip) on October 6th 1969, it made it’s first appearance on the iconically-sleeved Abbey Road album, which was released on 26th September 1969.
And like me, it’s a classy vintage.
But seriously, it’s often very easy to over look the contribution which George Harrison made to the canon of great songs by The Beatles. And this is right up there in my book as one of the band’s finest, most beautiful moments:
Ordinarily, I would go about my business with my iPod on shuffle, listening to whatever it decided to feed my ears.
But this week, three things happened which made me focus in on three particular acts for a while.
Phase One, and the most short-lived of the three, Kylie at Glastonbury.
In a set only spoiled by the appearance of Chris Martin and the denegration of the majority of Can’t Get You Out Of My Head into an unnecessarily-acoustic version of the mega-hit. To these eyes, Martin always looks like the sort of person who has trouble controlling his saliva, and has to keep sucking it in before it spills out of the corners of his big shit-eating grin. Nobody wants to hear a mostly acoustic version of Can’t Get You Out Of My Head just so he can strum along to it; we want to hear it in all its full-on banger glory, without the interjection of a man who thinks it’s perfectly acceptable to name his children after fruit.
I say “spoiled”, but that’s not quite true. Nick Cave was there too, to accompany Ms Minogue on Where the Wild Roses Grow. I’d seen a lot of summaries of Kylie’s career in advance of her appearance on the Pyramid Stage, all of them, it seemed, bemoaning this particular period of her career as being the least succesful and therefore dullest. I beg to differ: it was around this time that Kylie suddenly got interesting in my book.
And when I say “spoiled” I don’t mean that Nick Cave spoiled it, because of course he didn’t. But if you can conjure up Nick Cave and Chris Martin, then surely La Minogue could have also cajoled Jason Donovan into joining her to duet on Especially For You? I mean, it’s not like he isn’t in the country. It would have made the inevitable airing of the song almost bearable.
Truth be told, I got a little emotional during Kylie’s set, especially when she did her speech about why wasn’t able to headline the Sunday night as planned back in 2005. See, I was there that year, and while Basement Jaxx proved to be a thoroughly enjoyable replacement, I’d have much rather have seen Kylie. Plus, the merest mention of someone beating cancer these days sets me right off, for reasons regular readers will be fully aware of.
Anyway, here’s Kylie and Nick performing that song:
Phase Two: The Cure, headlining the Pyramid Stage on Sunday night.
I thought they were incredible, even though much of the first hour of their set was comprised of songs from their Disintegration album which I know I’m supposed to love, admire and respect as their masterpiece, but to be honest I’ve always found it to be just a bit too gloomy for my taste. Controversial, I know.
But that last half hour or so, when they just started belting out the hits, was magnificent; their Greatest Hits album Standing on a Beach, was a massive part of my indie-music education when I was a teenager, and I found myself, not for the first time that weekend, rueing the fact that I wasn’t there to witness it in person.
Now, I’ve not managed to find a decent clip of a song from the set I like enough to post yet, so you’ll just have to make do with the non-live version of this, which was a real highlight of their set for me:
But there can be no doubt what the absolute highlight of the weekend was. Until last weekend, I had no idea who Dave was (other than a TV channel renowned for showing episodes of QI and Top Gear on repeat ad infinitum, or the name Trigger incorrectly calls Rodney throughout Only Fools and Horses), and only slightly more of an idea who Thiago Silva is.
I definitely had no idea who Alex Mann was. But I do now (plenty of effing and jeffing in this, by the way):
Phase Three: having spent the whole of the week listening to nothing but Kylie and The Cure on my daily commute, I went to the cinema on Thursday evening…and here’s some words I never thought I’d type…to voluntarily watch a Richard Curtis rom-com.
Let me get my disclaimer in really quickly: Yesterday is also directed by Danny Boyle, who I love and would watch anything he’s been involved in. He’s responsible for some of my favourite films ever (Trainspotting, Shallow Grave, 28 Days Later to name just three) along with the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics (remember 2012, when we were proud to be British, rather than embarrased as we are now by Brexit MEP morons turning their backs on Beethoven?)
Don’t get me started.
But I’ll take any excuse to post that glorious opening ceremony, thank you very much:
And so I weighed it up: did my love of Boyle outweigh my distaste of Curtis? Yes it did.
You’ll be aware by now of the premise of Yesterday, but just in case you’ve been living under a rock for the past few weeks as Boyle, Curtis and leading man Himesh Patel have done the promotional circuit, here’s the trailer:
Here’s the plot: Jack Malik (Patel) is a struggling musician, stranded in Suffolk, who when cycling home one night is hit by a bus at exactly the same moment as the whole world experiences a power cut. When he wakes in a hospital bed, he slowly realises that, for some unexplained reason, The Beatles and their entire back catalogue have been expunged from everyone else in the world’s memory. Only he can remember the songs, which puts him in a bit of a dilemma: does he start performing the songs and claiming them as his own – indeed, can he even remember all of the words? – or does he…erm…let it be. He chooses the former, or course (it’s be a really dull film if he didn’t) and is promptly propelled to super stardom. But who are the two people who seem to know his secret? (Well, it’s the criminally under-used Sarah Lancashire and Justin Edwards, as it goes.)
I have to admit I rather enjoyed Yesterday, despite it’s many flaws. The cast is really good, and it’s practically a Who’s Who of current British comedy acting talent, as you would probably expect from a Curtis movie.
And once you get past the gag that is people not knowing any Beatles’ songs and consequentially mis-naming them, there are a few funny jokes, one at the expense of Oasis, another at the expense of Coldplay, another still at the expense of Ed Sheeran. (I’m doing it a disservice here: I laughed more than three times.)
Ah, yes. Ed Sheeran. I’m not a fan, suffice it to say. But his involvement here does make perfect sense plot-wise. It’s just…well, he’s in it quite a lot, as himself. And James Corden also makes a cameo appearance, also as himself, and again this does make sense: he’s a successful British actor with a chat-show in the US, so he will be recognised on both sides of the pond. It’s just I’d rather not spend my time and money looking at or hearing either of them, thank you very much.
That said, there’s a couple of clunkers: dotted throughout the film, Jack mentions something which also got wiped from the collective conscious during the power outage, and the inference is that they are in some way therefore linked to collective amnesia about The Beatles. To extrapolate: if The Beatles don’t exist, then nor can these things. But the things in question are cigarettes (and, other than a mention of having ‘a smoke’ in A Day In The Life, I can’t think of any other reason for this) and Coca Cola (perhaps the biggest clunker, this seems to have been excluded simply so that a Coke/Cocaine joke can be ham-fistedly crowbarred in.) I mean, The Beatles didn’t write Lola, wherein perhaps the most famous Coca/Cherry Cola reference resides.
And if the idea is that as well as The Beatles disappearing, so anything linked to or based on them must also not exist, then there’s a reference to Cilla Black which makes no sense, given that she was discovered by The Beatles at Liverpool’s Cavern Club.
What the film does have – apart from a surprise, uncredited appearance by Boyle-stalwart Robert Carlyle – is the songs, and it’s really quite lovely that these were recorded with Patel performing them, and not in a totally reworked kind of way as (I understand, I haven’t seen it) happens in the recent Elton John biopic Rocketman.
No, these versions are remarkably faithful to the originals, and includes one absolute belter, for the live version of Help! is rattlingly good:
Over all, I rather enjoyed it, despite myself. There are no surprises here: it’s a Richard Curtis rom-com, we all know how it ends before it even begins, but it’s enjoyable enough. Perhaps wait until it starts cropping up on ITV2 rather than forking out to go see it in the cinema, though.
Ok, to round things off and tie up all the loose ends, here’s Paul McCartney’s headlining set from Glastobury 2004. I had the pleasure of being at this, although I’ll admit I only watched him because…well, how often do you get to watch an actual Beatle play live? Turned out to be one of the finest gigs I ever saw, which really shouldn’t come as any great surprise:
There’s a bit of an oddity about that, in that the opening song (Jet) appears twice at the start, which I’m sure many of you will assume is just an excuse to post this:
I’d skip to around the 5 minute mark if I were you.
The second occasion Jet appears over-writes the actual song in the set, which just so happens to be one of my favourite Beatles songs ever, from my favourite Beatles album ever. You can keep your Sgt. Pepper, give me Revolver any day of the week.