Been a while since I posted one of these, so, by way of making up for lost time, not two but three songs cut from the same title cloth. And what very different sounding songs these three are indeed.
First up, from their 1990 debut album, Pod, a record cited by Kurt Cobain as being one of his favourites (“The main reason I like [the Breeders] is for their songs, for the way they structure them, which is totally unique, very atmospheric. I wish Kim was allowed to write more songs for the Pixies, because ‘Gigantic‘ is the best Pixies song, and Kim wrote it.” He has a point…), here’s rock’n’roll’s Kim Deal (her twin sister Kelley had not joined at this point), Tanya Donnelly, Josephine Wiggs and Britt Walford (the latter recording under the pseudonym Shannon Doughton for some reason):
Well, that’s got the day off to a cheery start, hasn’t it?
No fear, for the second track with the same name is from one of my favourite albums ever, and by a band who I really should post more of sometime.
See, hailing from Bristol long before hailing from Bristol was cool, The Brilliant Corners were one of the…erm…corner stones of my evolution into a fully-fledged Indie Kid. Literate and erudite, telling desperately sad stories of failed and failing relationships, singer Davey Woodward’s delivery mostly monotone, bordering on flat, set to a background of mostly jingly-jangly guitars, it would be oh-so-easy to make comparisons with a certain other band from Manchester. You know who I mean.
But in 1988, they released an album, Somebody Up There Likes Me, where they did something that ‘other’ band would never dare to do: they introduced a brass section. The result is a wonderful album which I own on vinyl having bought it back in the day and which still gets a spin every now and again, over thirty years later, and I still love it; twelve songs, pretty much all of them sounding upbeat and covered in horns, until you listen a little closer and realise the often mournful content of Woodward’s lyrics.
This, the closing track from Side One, is a case in point:
I sense a post featuring more from that album on the horizon.
And finally, to the third song of your trio, and this is much newer, having only been released in July 2021, so no mp3 links for this one; you should go stream or preferably buy it. Hailing from Los Angeles, these are The Linda Lindas and they need to be played loud:
It’s Saturday morning, and that can mean only one thing round Dubious Towers: Rant or Chain?
Any hope of building suspense is already ruined by the title of course. But believe me, after the humiliation of the press shots of Shagger Johnson looking at his most bumblingly unkempt on Thursday evening, and what his utter failure means for all of us here in the UK, it was by no means a foregone conclusion as to what would appear here this morning. Anyway, we’ve got all weekend until the announcement we’re all now expecting, so there’s plenty of time for me to cobble something together.
So. The Chain. We ended last time with this as the source record:
We were a little thinner on the ground than usual this time around, which I wasn’t especially surprised about, because there’s not a lot to work with there, is there? So hats off to all of you that contributed.
As you know, what I try to do with these is to bring your suggestions together into, if not an actual narrative, then some sort of cohesive whole, so that it’s not just me going “And here’s so-and-so’s suggestions”. And that’s what I’m going to try to do this time, but as many of the songs were related to other songs with years in the title, I figured I’d slip those in every now and then, in their true chronological order.
But first, a little tune, the title of which perfectly describes that Pumpkins source song title:
Look, I know I say this quite a lot, but not all Quo records are of the chugga-chugga three chord boogie variety. A Year is taken from their Piledriver album where they had almost permanently settled on their winning formula, but this is a far more bluesy affair, with a bridge which nods back to their psychedelic days. Seriously, give it a listen.
I’ll be using any songs which simply link to the word “year” as an alarm to warn you it’s about time we went time travelling. If you think about it, it’s a really clever way for me to crowbar all of the ones I thought of into the narrative, and isn’t a bit crap at all.
Ok, so it’s time for some time travel, and we’ll head back to the earliest of the yearly-titled suggestions. Care to hop aboard?
And we’re heading back to 1959 for this bit of flamboyant gothness, which, just as A Year doesn’t sound like Quo, so this doesn’t sound like a Sister of Mercy record, it sounds more like a Jim Steinman composition (checks this: it isn’t, but I had no idea that Sisters mega-hit This Corrosion is a Steinman song, and he has a co-writing credit on Dominion/Mother Russia. Seems he rubbed off on Andrew Eldritch. (Not like that, you mucky lot!)):
Anyway, that was suggested by…erm…me, too. (Note: not #MeToo). I suppose I’d better let some of you lot play, hadn’t I?
Ok, so let’s kick off proper with songs which can be linked to the band name, and for a starter, here’s Rol from My Top Ten:
“Pumpkins are gourds.
So I’ll go with The Gourds and their cover of Gin n Juice by Snoop Dogg. (Or Lion. Or whatever he’s calling himself this week.)”
“You could also have Cucumber Castle by The Bee Gees,” Rol continues, “although it is pretty awful (and I like the Bee Gees).”
Rol is right, of course. I like the Bee Gees too. And that really is not good.
As an aside, for those of you old enough to remember them, was it just me that thought Barry Gibb looked like the blue one (a lion?) from 1970s kids TV show Animal Kwackers?
And you never saw them together, did you? (as I believe it is customary to say when making this kind of joke.)
Anyway, sorry Rol. You were saying?
“Melons are also gourds. Apparently. Which might explain why The Smashing Pumpkins came up with one of the worst pun album titles ever created.”
He is referring, of course, to the album from which our source record is lifted, Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness. But watch yourself Rol, now you’ve mentioned puns, I have a nasty feeling about where you’re going with all this, since way back in The Chain #32 this very topic came up and I ventured The Beach Boys’ Gourd Only Knows and Teenage Fanclub’s Gourd Knows It’s True and absolutely nobody noticed.
“And then there is…” Rol innocently continues:
Phew. No puns then.
Whilst we’re on all matters gourd-related, here’s the ever reliable Stevie from Charity Chic Music:
“Getting in early with The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead by XTC a song I once heard played at a funeral.”
This, I think, deserves some further explanation. Was the coffin much bigger at the top than the bottom? Did the cremation take ages and start from a single, strategically placed candle? I think the world needs to know.
God, I love a good harmonica. I sense a new idea for a (probably quite brief) series.
And since Rol mentioned the album name from whence our source was ripped, here’s The Great Gog:
“I’ll go with the fact that 1979 is taken from the album Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness, and linger on the last word albeit with a different adjective. So that will be The Saw Doctors and Exhilarating Sadness.”
Whoa! What was that and where did it come from?
That, good people, was the sound of young people making music. I know, seems a bit out of place round here, doesn’t it? It was also an artiste which links to the word “year”, which means it’s time to hop in our time travelling machine which looks remarkably like a more famous fictional one but which, for legal reasons, is called something completely different. I don’t know. Haven’t given it much thought.
How about: This Is Travelling in Time and Space? That’ll do.
Hop into TITTS and we’ll be off.
(I am 51 years old.)
And we’re landing back in 1966, for the first of several suggestions from Pat from PhonicPat who gives us our obligatory Half Man Half Biscuit song of the month (and a bit):
Since we’re already in Pat’s charming company, he’s given us another couple of songs which link to the source band’s name, thankfully devoid of gourd-related puns:
Allow me to squeeze another couple in. Firstly, here’s legendary jazz pianist Fats Waller:
The really rather ace:
The considerably less ace:
And if I’m chucking a load of Smash references in, I may as well throw a Pump in too:
…which leads me to this piece of genius:
**TIME TRAVEL KLAXON ALERT **
Here we go:
And here we are in 1969, the year when all the cool people were born, and I’ll leave you in the hands of babylotti for a while:
“Immediately, I don’t know why, but 1979 made me think of 1969 by The Stooges…”
“…then 1970 by them too….”
Whoa there cowboy! Let’s finish off 1969 before we go gallivanting across the years.
And here’s Pat (who also suggested The Stooges) with another suggestion:
When I was feverishly searching t’internet to try and find some more tunes, I stumbled across this rather surprising entry:
And I don’t suppose we can really leave 1969 without giving this an airing, even if it is rather well known that the digits in the title don’t actually refer to a year, but to something altogether much ruder:
And since we’re on the edge of the 1970s, we may as well let babylotti finish what he started with his Stooges talk and drag us into a slightly more recent age:
“…then 1970 by them too….”
“…then I remembered the great cover version of that song by Flesh for Lulu.”
Here’s a thing. About fifteen years ago, Rocco from Flesh For Lulu was in a fly-on-the-wall property documentary called A Place in Spain: Costa Chaos. It turned out to be one of those excruciating, uncomfortable shows that should go down in legend, but it seems only me, and me good mate Val who I was living with at the time and who watched this with me, remember it.
Actually, not quite us two. For fortuitously, someone has posted most of the episodes on YouTube (I think one is missing), but if you have time to spare, then I’d thoroughly recommend you spend it watching this (first episode only included here):
Seriously, when the commentary says things like “But neither of them seems to have considered how they’re going to pay for it”, you know you’re watching car crash telly. Quite how I’ve managed to get writing this finished with such a distraction, I’m not sure.
Over now to a couple of suggestions linked to Smashing Pumpkins main man Billy Corgan, and first off the boat is Hal:
“Billy reputedly had a fairly healthy self-regard, which reminded me of the opening couplet to ‘San Francisco Fat’ by personae non gratae NOFX
And in a similar vein, here’s Swiss Adam from baggingarea:
“Smashing Pumpkins singer and professional misery Billy Corgan played on New Order’s 2001 comeback album, on the song Turn My Way- which as songs go on that album is pretty good and better than anything on the follow up Waiting For The Siren’s Call.”
He’s not wrong:
He also co-wrote this (Billy Corgan, not Swiss Adam):
Let’s shift ever so briefly to 1973, just so I can post this, which is ruddy magnificent:
And just as I thought I was running out of suggestions, here Devonian with three on the bounce:
“Remember how Smashing Pumpkins had to add a “The” to make sure we all understood that they were referring to the excellence of said squashes, rather than the act of setting about them with hammers? That made me think of songs by other bands with similarly enthusiastic names, such as… da-da-da-DAH…”:
Here’s Pat, back with another related suggestion:
“The Sonic Youth version of The Simpsons theme with the link The Smashing Pumpkins, The Homeralooza episode which included the following conversation
Billy Corgan: Billy Corgan, Smashing Pumpkins.
Homer: Homer Simpson, smiling politely.”
And so on we march to 1979, and I’ll hand over the reins to Rigid Digit:
“1979 could be a very broad subject. Arguably, I could offer a list of the best songs of 1979 (and there were many – it was a fine fine year in the world of Pop).
A personal memory – 1979 is the first year I really started taking note of pop music, and on an episode of Top Of The Pops saw Dave Edmunds performing Girls Talk – that says more to me about 1979 than Alan Sunderland scoring a last minute winner for Arsenal.”
Sorry, you lost me with that last bit. But here’s Dave anyway:
“Written in 1978, Tom Robinson had a go at guessing the state of the nation 18 months into the future. Not all (any?) of his predictions came true – and certainly not the one about Spurs beating Arsenal (they lost 5 Nil).”
Times have changed, matey, what happened last weekend…? Oh, yes, this:
The Beard doesn’t know when to stop using an analogy, so I’ll let it slide:
“Alan Sunderland scored the winning goal for Arsenal in the 1979 FA Cup Final.”
“There’s the band Death From Above 1979, although I believe they often drop the 1979 bit from their moniker, it is a bit of a mouthful after all… anyway, this leads me to think of ‘Let’s Make Love And Listen To Death From Above’ by CSS, fronted by the marvellously named Lovefoxxx.”
I thought Lovefoxxx was your dating profile name?
It would be rude at this point not to feature some actual Death From Above 1979, so you can decide whether or not you wish to make love to them:
Poor old Willie, having to churn out albums of covers to pay that tax debt back.
But wait: that’s a **TIME TRAVEL KLAXON ALERT **
Which takes us to our last few records, all suggested by yours truly:
…and this odd little thing I stumbled across:
..and this, from Pat:
…and finally, this, which I was very surprised that Swiss Adam didn’t suggest:
I say “and finally”, but what I actually mean is “and finally from the past”, because what’s the point in having a saucily-named time travelling machine if we can’t go into the future as well as the past?
Off we pop:
Which just about wraps it up.
Oh wait. Here’s Rol again:
“And then there’s Little Red Courgette, obviously.”
Which just leaves me to announce what the actual next record in the real Chain is, and it’s this:
“The pumpkin patch featured in the cartoon strip ‘Peanuts’ which featured Charlie Brown, so…:”
Which just leaves me to ask for your suggestions for songs which link to Charlie Brown by The Coasters, to be submitted via either the Comments function on this page, along with a brief explanation of your link, or if you prefer anonymity that you ultimately won’t be afforded, by email to email@example.com
When the story of indie pop is written (if it hasn’t already been done) then The Brilliant Corners will be, in my mind, one of the most unjustly overlooked bands not to be mentioned.
Certainly, along with bands like The Chesterfields, they were pivotal in me breaking free from the shackles of “chart” music and listening to something just ever-so-slightly off the radar.
Their 1988 album Somebody Up There Likes Me is a lost jewel, packed as it is with witty (sometimes rude) observational lyrics about life on the breadlines, great pop hooks, parping brass and achingly cool (if slightly flat) vocals.
Technically – *technically* – I don’t need to write another one of these now. To the housebound and diary blind, simply refer back to this post for the next few days. I’m sure you can work things out from there.
Okay, so there’s been a couple of weeks of not very much happening round these parts, whilst I got all old and decrepit and…erm…oh yes! forgetful and stuff, time to get the show back on the road.
Did you ever instinctively do something, and then, when you’d had a moment to pause, reflect and analyse, realised it didn’t exactly show you in a good light?
It happened to me a couple of weeks ago, when me and my old mate Richie went to a gig at The 100 Club. (I will get round to writing something about the gig itself at some point, I promise. Like you care.)
Anyway, knowing there were four acts on that night, at least three of which we wanted to see, we arrived at the venue at 7pm, the advertised doors time, only to be met by a shaven headed doorman, fag in gob, who told us in no uncertain terms that the doors would not be opening until 7:30 and we should form an orderly queue on the pavement if we knew what was good for us.
There was one other bloke waiting, so we insisted he stood at the front of the line, Richie and I behind him. Shortly afterwards we were joined by another couple: he was clearly a bit of a muso and wanted everyone to know it. His wife (I assume) asked who it was they were going to see, and he replied “The Chesterfields. They released an album called Kettle in the 1980s which I have the original pressing of on vinyl”.
I leaned into Richie and whispered “Yeh, like it ever got a second pressing…” Richie giggled.
As we waited it became clear that she was much more interested in popping into the Boots store next door and reporting back on where they keep the tissues than in going to a gig.
7:30 came and went, and eventually we were allowed in. If you’ve never been to The 100 Club, it’s a wonderfully grubby venue, steeped in counter culture and musical history. There’s a reason why on I, Ludicrous‘ magnificent Preposterous Tales Ken refers to seeing the Sex Pistols play there. Put it this way: Richie slipped off to the Gents and came back, marvelling that they were “a work of art”. He even took a photo (thankfully nobody else was in there, or there may have been trouble):
There’s so many questions here: why does one toilet have a lid but the other doesn’t? Is it okay to leave the seat up in the Gents? And most importantly, does that partially obscured bit of graffiti at the top say Borrowed Time or Borrowed Tim? I really hope it’s the latter.
Inside the main venue, there is a bar at each end of the room, with the stage in between. It’s one of those glorious stages which are only about knee-high, so you can get really close to the act. On this occasion, to the right is a set of DJ decks, and then a few tables and chairs have been set out, either side of the stage.
Richie heads to the bar, I grab a table over to the left of the stage. Shortly after Richie arrives with the beers, the couple from the queue, predictably, come and sit on the table to our left, which is slightly in front of us.
Between acts, there is a DJ (hence the decks) who plays a dazzling array of much loved and much forgotten jangly indie classics from the era from whence the bands had come to see had founded there reputation. We get some Orange Juice, some early Wedding Present, and this:
Ok, so technically it’s Na Na Na’s rather than Ba Ba Ba’s: I’m expanding the catchment area, that ok with you?
And then it happens.
A song comes on, and I see the bloke from the couple on the next table get his phone out and try to Shazam it.
For those unfamiliar with the app, imagine that you’re out and about, hear a tune you like but don’t know what it is and don’t want to betray your ignorance by asking somebody. Shazam is an app where you can play it a short snippet of a song and it will (usually) tell you who/what it is. Old school readers may remember, before smart phones and apps became a thing, you could type 2580 into your phone, hold it up, and get a text telling you what you were listening to.
But, as The 100 Club is subterranean, the guy’s phone couldn’t connect.
I know what this song is, I thought. I can help.
And so I leant – no, more accurately, lunged – across Richie, and tapped the bloke on his arm.
“Are you trying to work out what this is?” I asked, pointing upwards in what is the universally accepted hand signal for “this thing what we can hear”.
“Yes,” he replied, “but I can’t Shazam it.”
“Shazam won’t help you with this, my friend” I said, “but I can.” You know, like how people in adverts for stain removers talk.
For a moment, I imagined myself in a tight spandex suit and cape, swooping in to assist a befuddled musical inquisitor with their fruitless quest. “I am Obscure Tune Man and only I can assist you in your quest to identify jingly jangly guitar tunes from the late 1980s which nobody bought at the time!”
Ok, so it’s 10 years today since John Peel died. I don’t think I can let that pass without comment.
It’s rare when I hear about someone famous passing on that I feel anything other than indifference. But when Peelie shuffled off this mortal coil, I felt cold. A veritable shiver. The light that would never go out, had.
I’d love to be able to relate some story now about how I met the Great Man and how it changed my life, but I don’t have one, because I never did. But here’s two things:
Once, not long before he died, he asked on his show who it was that did a song that mentioned Brian Rix’s trousers. In his usual slightly befuddled manner, he’d forgotten, and when you have as many tunes rattling around in your head as he did, one’s bound to fall out every now and then. I emailed him (as did many others) and he thanked me (and many others) on air for doing so. This is the song:
Ok so that’s not a great claim to fame. I don’t have anything better than that. But in 1989 I went to the Reading Festival, and on the Saturday John was acting as compere. I remember him reading the football scores out, but insisting on starting with the Scottish results, because they usually get left till the end and nobody really pays attention to them. And this strikes me as being a metaphor for his life’s work: bringing the previously unheard to the attention of the masses.
Yes he played a lot of tosh I wasn’t interested in (I’m looking at you, Bhundu Boys) but for every 10 songs he played, you got at least 2 or 3 that you’d never heard before and wanted to hear some more of.
I could make a really long list of the bands I first heard via Mr Peel. I won’t, but here’s some of them. My life is richer for having them, and the stuff I consequently checked out, in there. Cheers, John!