The second was originally recorded by Dick Van Dyke, but I’ve plumped for the version I remember, from 1962, and which features Barry “Eve of Destruction” McGuire on lead vocals. It should probably reside in my folder entitled “You Couldn’t Get Away With This Nowadays”. You’ve been warned:
A Mighty Wind does for the 60s & 70s US folk scene what Best In Show did for competitive dog showing and what This is Spinal Tap did for washed-up British rock bands, which is unsurprising given it’s the same bunch of funny people (principally, Harry Shearer, Christopher Guest and Michael McKean) behind all three movies.
And, like This is Spinal Tap, it’s filled with really great songs, like the title track, for example:
Regular visitors to the shores of Dubious Taste will know that I compile these weekly Friday Night playlists based on a couple of tunes that I hear during my daily commute to and from work. Sometimes, my permanently-on-shuffle iPod will play me something which instantly makes me think of a theme for the week, or which reminds me of another song, or just gives me a couple of songs which sound good next together.
Sometimes, and it’s a rare event, the stars align and all three happen. Such was the case with this week’s playlist. Since I only had four days in work this week, this was an absolute blessing.
So, shall we get cracking?
Twice a year, the clocks change in the UK. The event is always preceded by many conversations of the “Wait – is that the good one or the bad one?” variety. People here in the UK will often complain when the clocks go forward (the “bad one”), moaning that they have an hour less in bed on Saturday night/Sunday morning. I’ve never understood this. Unless you have somewhere to be on a Sunday, why on earth would you change the clocks before you get out of bed on the Sunday? Just stay in bed until whatever time you like, get up, and then change the clocks. Lose an hour of your day instead of your night, if you like night so much.
And for those who are not in the UK and have no idea what I’m banging on about…I really can’t be bothered to explain why we change the time twice a year, other than because we can. Go Google it if you’re that interested.
Anyway, Tuesday morning started badly for me. I had gone to great lengths to remind all of my work colleagues that the clocks were to go forward on Easter Sunday, had done the same when visiting my parents over the weekend, and then wouldn’t you just know it, totally forgot to change my own alarm clock when I got home on Monday, which led me to over sleep on Tuesday morning. A mad scramble to shower and get to work if not on time, then not too late, followed. (Luckily my boss had done something similar, sending me a text to apologise as she was also running late, having missed her train.)
My iPod had me covered though. Here’s what it decided to play me:
When your day starts so badly that you’re still getting dressed as you’re waiting at the bus stop (my apologies to the neighbours: that wasn’t a wardrobe malfunction you witnessed, it was a life malfunction, like that makes it any better), the sound of Dusty breathing into your ears certainly settles the nerves.
I don’t feel I know him well enough to call him Pete.
Frampton first found fame in the late 1960s as a member of The Herd, where he was dubbed “the Face of 68” (that’s the year, not a slightly disappointing sexual position), which led to the band attracting a somewhat teen audience, which caused issues with the less pretty members of the band. (Also in the band: one Andy Bown, who has been an official member of The Quo ever since 1977. Read into that what you will).
They split shortly afterwards, and Frampton was recruited into Humble Pie, Steve Marriott’s first post-Small Faces project. Despite some modicum of success, Frampton quit in 1971 to go solo.
But despite his early success as part of the aforementioned bands, Frampton’s first three solo albums tanked, and it wasn’t until the release of “Frampton Comes Alive!” in 1976 that his fortunes finally changed. This is not the sort of career path that many artists take: I can’t think of another act who released three consecutive albums to an increasingly lukewarm reaction, and who then decided, with his record label’s blessing, the way to turn things round was to release a live album (although I do wonder if he’d signed a four album deal and this was just a way of fulfilling his contractual obligations).
But work it did, in no small part to his use of the “talk box” on today’s choice, that odd “wah-wah-wah-wah-wah” noise that forms the solo part of the song.
And yes, I know we’re all supposed to laugh at Frampton and poke fun at his records, but “Show Me The Way” fulfills one of the criteria which allows us to like such things, namely: has a band we all agree are cool done a cover version which is not seemingly ironic? The answer here is a resounding “yes”:
Anyway, by now, a theme for my playlist had been identified: being lost, needing help, and then getting advice, instructions or orders. I set about, as I always do, trying to think of songs which fit my self-imposed remit.
Which brings me on to the next track. A couple of weeks ago, I got sent one of those things on Facebook where someone asks you to name your favourite bands, songs, etc; this one was asking me to name 12 albums which had “stayed with me”, which I took to mean albums that meant as much to me now as when I bought them, rather than albums which have become like an unwelcome lodger, sleeping on the sofa, eating crisps, and leaving floaters in the toilet. Although, Lord knows I have plenty of records that fit that description.
I loved The Housemartins, and I’m slightly surprised this is the first song I’ve posted by them. Seriously, what’s not to love about a band who are modest enough to refer to themselves as “the fourth best band from Hull”, who had a penchant for wearing rather fetching cardigans, who were often asked in interviews about their collection of crisp packets, who spawned Fatboy Slim and The Beautiful South, and who also had a drummer who in 1993 was sentenced to spend six years at Her Majesty’s Pleasure for assaulting his former business associate with an axe and setting fire to his house. Three times.
Next up, from the days when 7″ singles didn’t even have picture sleeves, and when Smokey Robinson was still just Bill “Smokey” Robinson, and his band were still just The Miracles and not Smokey Robinson and The Miracles:
For those of you not in the know, “A Mighty Wind” is a film brought to you by the same folks as one of the greatest, funniest movies ever: “This is Spinal Tap”. I doubt there is a single music blogger out there who doesn’t adore the endlessly quotable “…Spinal Tap” and “A Mighty Wind”, though less quotable than “…Spinal Tap” does for the world of folk what “…Spinal Tap” did for the world of rock: it affectionately mocks it.
Indeed, The Folksmen are none other Jerry Palter (played by Michael McKean, or David St Hubbins in “…Spinal Tap”), Alan Barrows (Christopher Guest/Nigel Tufnel) and Mark Shubb (Harry Shearer/Derek Smalls). If you haven’t watched it, I urge you to rectify that as soon as possible. I love it almost, but not quite, as much as I love “This is Spinal Tap”, which is bloody loads.
Next, a similarly folky sounding bunch who the internet seems to know very little about. From their one and only album, originally released in 1985 on Go! Discs, but recently picked up and re-released by Cherry Red (Gawd bless ’em) and available here, ladies and gents I give you The Boothill Foot-Tappers:
I remember reading about them in Smash Hits and being immediately intrigued, but found it difficult to actually track down anything by them. A couple of years later, after we had finished our shift in the motorway restaurant we both had the misfortune to work at, my boss Jane and I would often go to her house, have a couple of drinks, play some records and have a bit of a sing-song (anyone who has ever lived with me knows that this is one of my most basic pleasures in life, and actually is the conception of the Friday Night Music Club).
On one such occasion, I was flicking through her vinyl collection (not a euphemism) and found she had a copy of this album. We popped it on, and I immediately adored it. I left her flat clutching a copy on a C-90 cassette, along with her vinyl copy of Kate Bush’s “The Kick Inside” album, which she told me I could keep for reasons that I can’t quite recall. I still have them both to this day, though I haven’t seen or heard from Jane in about 20 years or so. Which tells you quite a bit about me, I guess.
For some reason, something tells me that Elvis Costello had something to do with them (producer…?), though I may be getting mixed up with his involvement with The Pogues’ “Rum Sodomy & The Lash” album, and being Mr Cait O’Riordan of early Pogues fame (although in 2008 she denied ever having been married to Costello, saying “We weren’t married…It was a kind of Muslim ‘I divorce you’ kind of thing.”)
Or maybe O’Riordan herself is the link, as in my attempts to find something, anything about them (other than numerous references to them being a cow-punk band who only ever released one album…thanks, knew that already!) I find that in 1983 Darryl Hunt intended to ask The Boothill’s Wendy May to join his jazz band “Pride of the Cross”, but when he mentioned this to O’Riordan she apparently laughed and told him that she ought to do it. I dunno. It’s a real head-scratcher and no mistake. Answers on a postcard please (or in the Comments Section would be better).
I digress. Let’s have another tune.
Some of you may recall that I’m in the process of adding the first 75 “Now…!” albums onto my iPod and the next choice was the first that it randomly gave me from the second volume:
Do you remember back in the 1980s, when Saturday morning television wasn’t an endless stream of cookery programmes, but were actually a load of shows aimed at keeping kids preoccupied for a couple of hours? Often, the shows would have pop stars of the day in the studio, and they would be subjected to a phone-in. This was revolutionary at the time, the first time that the general public had been allowed to interact with celebrities, a precursor to Twitter if you will.
People of a certain age will know exactly where I’m going with this:
There’s only one way to follow that, from the 9th “Now..!” volume:
Now, you can all laugh about my love of all things Quo, but it turns out even I have limits. In 2008, I found out just what those limits were: a duet with German techno outfit Scooter.
Jesus wept, I’d forgotten just how horrendous that is. If “Walk This Way” is the finest example of rock and rap working sublimely then that is the polar opposite. My ears, my ears! Is it possible to unhear something?
When I started seeking out songs which fitted this week’s theme I initially came up with about ten. As I started writing this post, loads more came to mind, far too many to cover in just one week. So, you lucky people, you get Part 2 next week. I actually prefer next week’s. That’s what I believe is known as “a teaser”, though having just posted the above video you could be forgiven for never darkening my doorstep again.
I can’t possibly leave you with that last monstrosity ringing in your ears, so this seems an appropriate record to finish on: