The Chain #6

Hello, good morning and welcome.

I have to say this is rapidly turning into my favourite thread of the week, and just to refresh memories/fill in newcomers, this is where we play the next record from 6Music’s Radcliffe & Maconie’s “The Chain” and invite your suggestions for what you would like to hear next that links to that record (along with an explanation of the link). And then cross our fingers that I already own it or can track down a copy. Oh, and if you want to have a guess at how the songs were linked on the radio show, feel free.

So, we left you last week with “Girl From Mars” by Ash, and we have two great, great suggestions, both of which link to the same band.

First up is George, who wrote:

Right. Here goes for Comment Showboating. I’ve got a link from Ash to The Fall. You’ll like this. The Ash album from which Girl From Mars comes is 1977. If you add up the digits of 1977 you get 24. And in the number 24, the “2” is next to the “4”. So you could say the “2” is by the “4”. Or 2 by 4. Track 2, side 1 from The Wonderful And Frightening World Of
 by the Fall is 2×4.

Okay, two things to say about this. Firstly, and I think George knows this, I love Comment Showboating, particularly on this thread. So, please, if you’re going to make a suggestion, fill your boots, make it as convoluted as you like.

Secondly, George: that is just one of the most brilliant links I’ve ever read. How can I resist? (Clue: I can’t) Here’s the version lifted from the 6 CD opus that is The Fall’s Complete Peel Sessions:

41V5WK1KKWL__SS500_

The Fall – 2 x 4 (Peel Session)

Moving on to Dave aka The Great Gog who sent me this:

“Sticking with the planet / young female theme – there is “A Mercury Girl” by Cleaners From Venus (from 1987 album Going To England). Giles Smith from the band became a journalist and wrote an excellent book entitled Lost In Music. I believe that some sisters had a hit with a song of that title and of course, The Fall interpreted it in their own way on The Infotainment Scan. So there you go – a convoluted link and another excuse to post something from Mark E. Smith & co.”

Which gives me, albeit inadvertently, not one but two songs to post:

R-3250168-1322410845_jpeg

The Cleaners From Venus – A Mercury Girl

and, of course:

516A1M27KDL__SX425_

The Fall – Lost in Music

It is taking every fibre in my being to resist the temptation to just post a load of covers The Fall have done now.

Instead, since yesterday was both the Scottish and English Cup Finals, I have an excuse to post this, the most surreal bit of Grandstanding-ah! you’ll ever see:

Look at that, Villa fans. You used to win games!!

As for my suggestion, well I would have plumped for this (already posted in my Friday Night Music Club strand) and I would hope the link from Ash’s Girl From Mars to this is fairly self-explanatory:

16576

The Undertones – More Songs About Chocolate and Girls

But here is where the licence-paying BBC listening public went next:

KT_Tunstall_-_Black_Horse_&_The_Cherry_Tree

6. KT Tunstall – Black Horse And The Cherry Tree

And the reasoning? “An ash is a type of tree. So is a cherry…”

Which, bearing in mind our suggestions, is a bit shit really, isn’t it?

So, ladies and gents, your suggestions please about what record you’d like me to post that links to KT Tunstall’s “Black Horse and the Cherry Tree”. Please leave your suggestions – and how you got to it – in the Comments box down below, and feel free to make it as Commenty McShowboatface or as simple and straight-forward as you like.

Oh, and George and Dave – loving your work, keep it up chaps. S’much appreciated.

More soon.

Friday Night Music Club

Evening all. Hope you’ve all had a decent week since I last graced these pages with anything new for you to chow down on. It’s Friday Night and that can only mean one thing: it’s time for the latest additions to the Music Club canon.

And this week, we’re going a bit country. Well actually, quite a lot country.

No wait, come back!

It’s not all ten gallon hats and Republican rednecks, I promise! That’s Country and Western, and we are most definitely not going Western tonight.

So saddle up (doh!), stick around, and you never know, you might learn – or even like – something.

First up, and to carry on where I left it last week, a song by The Fall. Well, almost. A song which The Fall released as an extra track on the UK CD version of their 1991 album “Shift-Work”.

The song was written by J.P. Richardson, who is perhaps better known as The Big Bopper, and perhaps even better known for having died in the same plane crash as claimed the lives of Buddy Holly and Richie Valens – the infamous “day the music died” Don McLean wrote about in “American Pie”.

Alas, Richardson didn’t have chance to record it before his untimely death, leaving the late great George Jones to record this rollickingly definitive version:

CS513136-01A-BIG

97. George Jones – White Lightning

George of course is renowned for two things: being married to Queen of Country Tammy Wynette, and having a drink problem that makes it a minor miracle he lasted until he reached the grand old age of 81. The latter makes his choice to cover this record – a tale of family-produced moonshine – rather unsurprising.

Two examples to illustrate how much George liked a tipple: when he turned up at the studio to record White Lightning, he was so bladdered he needed around 80 attempts to get it right. The bass player, Buddy Killen was rumoured to have so many blisters on his fingers from playing it so many times, he not only threatened to quit the recording session, but also threatened George with a bit of ABH. When the session producer ultimately chose the first cut they had done that day to release, I’m sure he saw the funny side though.

The second example is one that has gone down in country music folklore. Here, then, from his aptly-titled autobiography “I Lived To Tell It All”, in his own words:

“Once, when I had been drunk for several days, Shirley [his second wife] decided she would make it physically impossible for me to buy liquor. I lived about eight miles from Beaumont and the nearest liquor store. She knew I wouldn’t walk that far to get booze, so she hid the keys to every car we owned and left.

But she forgot about the lawn mower. I can vaguely remember my anger at not being able to find keys to anything that moved and looking longingly out a window at a light that shone over our property. There, gleaming in the glow, was that ten-horsepower rotary engine under a seat; a key glistening in the ignition.

I imagine the top speed for that old mower was five miles per hour. It might have taken an hour and a half or more for me to get to the liquor store, but get there I did.”

You will notice that booze plays quite a part in a few of tonight’s choice. Before we go any further though, I owe you one Fall song, so here’s their version (and unofficial video):

Moving on, another country legend who I’ve waxed lyrical about on these pages before, and another artist who, I think it’s fair to say has battled a few of his own demons in his time:

kris_kristofferson_jesus

98. Kris Kristofferson – Out of Mind, Out of Sight

“Let’s keep drinking ’til we’re blind”, indeed.

As I’ve mentioned before, I was brought up listening to Kristofferson, and whilst he has continued recording, railing against the authorities and touring right up to the present day (I was gutted to be too slow to manage to grab a ticket for his recent gig at the Union Chapel in Islington, but did manage to catch about half of one of his gigs in Bristol a few years back – I’ll explain why some other time), for me his real purple patch was from 1970 – 1972. If you’re curious to dig a little deeper (though they will be featured at some point in these pages if you want to stick around), or if you like the kind of alt-country that folks like Wilco or Ryan Adams produce, then I can heartily recommend 1970’s “Kristofferson” (which was re-released in 1971 under the title “Me and Bobby McGee” after Janis Joplin had released her simply stunning version of said song), 1971’s “The Silver Tongued Devil and I” and 1972’s “Jesus Was A Capricorn”, each displaying his flawless ear for a tune.

Now, just to prove that country music ain’t just about boys and their booze, here’s Michelle Shocked from her sophomore album “Short Sharp Shocked”, with a tale about Saturday night drinking and the rush to get to the local liquor store before it closed (presumably not on a lawn-mower):

Michelle Shocked - Short Sharp Shocked FRONT

99. Michelle Shocked – (Making the Run to) Gladewater

As I mentioned last time Michelle’s name came up on the pages, she seems to have developed some rather questionable views on gay and lesbian issues which I’m not going to give time to here, partly because I don’t think I agree with her views which seem rather unclear at best, but partly because if I do I’d have to mention Piers Morgan, and we all know the only thing worse than having questionable views on gay and lesbian issues is being Piers Morgan, so I’ll leave it there. If you’d like to read more though, you can do here.

So, having established booze is playing a large part in tonight’s Yee-Hawing, we may as well expand that to include the other thing on your bona fide country star’s list of forbidden fruits. So here, for the none-more-country-named Broken Family Band:

51H6AyCgcdL

100. The Broken Family Band – The Booze And The Drugs

It seems apt that a song about booze and drugs, two things which will feature fairly large in my A History of Dubious Taste thread, should be the 100th record here.

Surprisingly, The Broken Family Band are not, as you might assume from their name and their sound, from some sleepy southern state backwater; rather they actually hail from that most un-country-music-esque of towns: Cambridge, England. It’s not just their country credentials which are exemplary: they recorded two sessions for Peel, did a cover version of Neutral Milk Hotel’s “The King Of Carrot Flowers Part 2” on their mini-album “Jesus Songs”, and in 2007 their Welcome Home Loser” album was included in The Guardian newspaper’s ‘1000 Albums To Hear Before You Die’.

Next on to a band who from their album titles (such as Kiss My Grass: A Hillbilly Tribute to Kiss”) you can tell a) love a pun (their very name is a pun on Aussie rockers AC/DC), b) love a cover version, and c) haven’t really grasped the idea of making decent album covers. Yup, from their “Weapons of Grass Destruction” (see??) album, it’s Hayseed Dixie, and no prizes for guessing which of their oh-so-many- covers I’ve plumped for (I’ve not mentioned the folks who recorded the original for absolutely aaaaaaaaages):

MI0000650987

101. Hayseed Dixie – Down Down

Relax ladies, they’re married.

No further comment needed, I think we’ll leave that there, shall we?

To more contemporary tuneage, and two songs which are in no way country, other than having the word “Country” in their titles (and the first one featuring a banjo). First, the lead single from their eighth studio album, which I’m slightly surprised to learn, is their highest ever UK chart-placed single. No further introduction required, the magnificent:

803fb18bb187be3ce8aee3d56205fbb8_395

102. Primal Scream – Country Girl

A change in pace now. In 1997, fresh(ish) from winning the race to Number One in the UK Singles chart, a Pyhrric victory if ever there was one, given the battering they subsequently took in the album sales, Blur regrouped and came back with an album which was such a departure from their previous “sound” they were almost unrecognisable.

Oasis may have won the day in terms of popularity and record sales, but for my money, with the follow-up to 1995’s “The Great Escape”, Blur demonstrated a musicality and diversity which their rivals could only dream of.

It can’t be underestimated quite what a surprise it was back in January 1997 when Blur released first the lead single (and UK Number One) “Beetlebum”, swiftly followed in April by second single (and UK Number Two, appropriately) “Song 2”, and there, sandwiched in between, was the wonderful, if not wonderfully titled, “Blur” album, from which this next track is lifted:

blur_cd_cover_big

103. Blur – Country Sad Ballad Man

Bit different to “Country House”, that, innit?

And finally, what better way to round things off for tonight than a truly iconic record from a truly iconic album capturing a truly iconic live performance by a truly iconic country star, perhaps the greatest country star:

700023_640px

104. Johnny Cash – Folsom Prison Blues

You don’t need me to explain this one do you? Thought not.

More soon.

And please remember to drink responsibly.

 

 

Friday Night Music Club

The other thing about having a day off on a Friday is that I have more time to put together a few songs for your Friday night delectation. Which you would think means an improvement in quality, in the tunes if not the writing. I’ll leave it to you to decide if that’s the case or not.

At the very least, it’ll be delivered earlier than usual.

After last week’s poptastic disco post, we’re heading back into slightly louder indie territory for this week’s selection. Oh, and a theme towards the end. Of course.

So, first up, the second song I ever heard by one of my favourite ever bands, and still sounding fresh as a daisy:

Super+Furry+Animals+God+Show+Me+Magic+164122

87. Super Furry Animals – God! Show Me Magic

Now to a band that I managed to catch twice last year, and have written about on these pages before. When I last waxed lyrical about them, I mentioned I have a semi-amusing story to tell, which I would save for the actual “A History of Dubious Taste” thread. That still holds, you’re getting nowt out of me now. (I realise I may be building this up a bit too much, of course. Calm down. Note the words “semi-amusing”. They have been chosen for a reason.)

Anyway, from their “Play” EP, for me, this is one of their finest moments:

001d1908_medium

88. Ride – Like A Day Dream

(Happy Birthday Neil)

Something a little more recent now, and when I say recent, this is my definition, so I mean released two years ago. From Worthing, in Sussex, here’s some:

Royal_Blood_-_Little_Monster_(Artwork)

89. Royal Blood – Little Monster

And whilst I’m attempting to at least appear vaguely hip and current, here’s another one from way back in the midst of time (i.e. 2014):

Black_Keys_Fever_cover

90. The Black Keys – Fever

Okay, time to take you back, and to a psychobilly group that had one hit, this one, back in 1983.

King Kurt came to my attention via the Personal File of lead singer Gary “The Smeg” Clayton in Smash Hits, where I’m sure they referred to him as Smeggy, but I can find nothing to corroborate this, so maybe I’m wrong. It’s been known to happen.

The Personal File in Smash Hits was usually a half-page feature and was a telephone interview, which gave the interviewer (usually, if memory serves, the late, great and much missed Tom Hibbert) the advantage of not having to be too concerned about any awkwardness his questions might cause. Hibbert was the master of this format; he would start by asking a few standards (Name, Date of Birth), move into obviously teen-pop magazine territory (First Crush?) then ask something so off-the-wall as to make the interviewee think the article was going to be just fluff at best.

As an example, having done the above, he asked Neil Tennant of Pet Shop Boys “Does your mother play golf?”, quickly followed by “What kind of underwear are you wearing?” (Note – this is not a question to be asked in any other context. I’ve got in a lot of trouble that way.) With the interviewee now suitably relaxed, Hibbert would go in for the kill. Again, from his Neil Tennant interview: “What does Chris do in Pet Shop Boys?” and “Why does he always look so moody?” – to be fair, the questions everyone had always wanted to ask – and so deliciously skewered is Tennant, so caught off guard, he provided the following answers, respectively: “He tends to write the songs’ ‘hooks'” and “Because he is moody…’sulky’ is a better word…When he found out we were Number One all he could do was complain that we had to do Top of the Pops again.”

Anyway, dragging myself back from the tangent, there was one of these about Gary “The Smeg” Clayton/Smeggy, about which I can remember nothing other than that I thought his name was funny, but then I was a 14 year old boy at the time.

R-3976836-1352062423-2713_jpeg

91. King Kurt – Destination Zululand (Humdiddlededumhoowahayha)

Onwards now to 1994, and a blast of Inspiral Carpets, who were derided by many when they were at their peak, and even more so when they attempted a come-back. Unfairly so, I think: in my book they were a great and consistent singles band. In December last year, my little group of friends met up, as we do every year, in the Dublin Castle in Camden for our annual drink-and-plough-pound-coins-into-the-juke-box-a-thon. There will always be a bit of a drunken sing-a-long, always, as I think I may have mentioned before, to “Fairytale of New York”, but last year also to the Inspiral’s “This Is How It Feels”. Y’know, cos it’s such a cheery Christmas song. One of my happiest moments of 2015, as it goes.

Anyway, here, from their “Devil Hopping” album, is this:

R-253696-1296856463_jpeg

92. Inspiral Carpets – I Want You (featuring Mark E. Smith)

Back in the early 1990s, Top of the Pops had a policy that, were you lucky enough to appear on the show, you had to perform the vocals live. This led, most infamously, to Kurt Cobain performing “Smells Like Teen Spirit” as if he were a 45rpm being played at 33rpm (and yes, I appreciate that some of my younger readers will have no idea what rpm means. Google it.)

It also gave rise to, as far as I’m aware, the only ever appearance on Top of the Pops by The Fall’s Mark E. Smith. It’s worth a watch, if only to see him getting the words wrong and forgetting where he is supposed to come in, cackling into the mic when he gets it wrong, despite frequently (and obviously) checking the words on a crumpled piece of paper, whilst Inspirals singer Tom Hingley gamely ploughs on with his bits.

If for nothing else, we should all be eternally grateful to Inspiral Carpets for giving us this.

All of which has got me in a Fall kinda mood, so here’s my favourite record by the ramshackle Mancunian growlers:

400-13275

93. The Fall – Dead Beat Descendant

As with many bands I figured I needed to know more about, I bought their “45 84 89” singles compilation when I was younger. I have to confess, there was much that I didn’t get at the time. But there were also several tracks I loved, some of which I knew were cover versions, one of which I only found out very recently was one. So let’s start there:

the_other_half-mr_pharmacist(1)

94. The Other Half – Mr. Pharmacist

Next, this:

R+Dean+Taylor+Theres+A+Ghost+In+My+House+549676

95. R Dean Taylor -There a Ghost in My House

Somewhere in the back of my head is the factoid that R Dean Taylor was the only white singer to release a single on the Tamla Motown label, but I’ve found nothing online to support this. What I have found is that he was signed as both a writer and performer for the label, and even played on Motown classics “Standing In the Shadows of Love,” and “Reach Out” (even it was only the tambourine he played).

Finally this week, a band that, I’m relieved to say, needs no introduction or further comment:

114752142

96. The Kinks – Victoria

That’ll do for now.

More soon.