I think every school year has a David Watts. The one in my year was called Robbie. He was the captain of the team, and I was lucky if I made the becnh. All of the girls in the neighbourhood did indeed want to go out with him, whilst refusing to touch me with a barge-pole, no matter how much money I offered them.
I definitely wanted to be him.
And then he joined the army, and suddenly I didn’t want to be him so much anymore.
Right, you can all stop checking the time, here it is, three weeks late, but that’s better than another super-long hiatus, surely?
More mega than a fleet of MegaBuses, yes! It’s time to check the buffering capabilities of your hardware and internet provider as we launch into the latest instalment of The Chain.
And what a selection we have for you this week!
But before we get started, some admin. The more observant of you will have spotted a new page link over there on the left entitled “The Chain – The Rules”. You’ll never guess what you see if you click that!
I mention this because there would have been a couple of disqualifications this week for (unintentional) breaches of the rules; luckily one of the transgressors realised and suggested an alternative link.
The easiest rule to break is suggesting a song which has already featured, and I appreciate with around 1000 songs having featured so far this can be somewhat tricky to keep up with. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m in the process of writing up a definitive list of every song which has featured so far, but until I’ve got round to finishing that (and writing The actual Chain takes up a fair bit of time when I could be doing that), if you want to check your options are:
1) Read every previous edition of The Chain (bit time consuming that one)
2) Check the Tags down the left-hand side; if the act you wish to suggest is not listed there, then you’re fine (assuming I remembered to add them, of course). If it is listed, click their name and you’ll be taken to every page that a song by them has featured on and you can check that way.
3) Email me at email@example.com and I’ll check and get back to you.
OK, admin over, let’s remind ourselves of the source record for this week:
The biggest source of linkage this week was the “Echo” part of the song title, so let’s get cracking with one of mine. Since an echo is something happening again, this seems to be an appropriate place to start:
So, who else provided echo-based suggestions? Well, here’s Alex G of the temporarily (I hope) dormant We Will Have Salad to provide not just a suggestion, but also a definition of “echo”, which saves me the bother of having to copy and paste something from an online dictionary to justify some of the other suggestions I’ve come up with:
“… an echo is an acoustic phenomenon caused by sound bouncing off walls. And ceilings. And other things. But it’s the first one which concerns us here, because it leads me to suggest….”
Unsurprisingly, several of you (well, five actually) proposed records by Echo & The Bunnymen, so we may as well get one of those out of the way next, and it’s over to Swiss Adam of Bagging Area fame, with his second suggestion. (No, you haven’t blinked and missed his first, that’s coming in a while. It’s called editing.)
“Echo and the Bunnymen…sang ‘Silver (Tidal Wave)’, a beach connection there too.”
Yes indeed, that’s your first – of many, it has to be said – double linkers of the week right there. Points!
Next to one of several songs this week that I had never heard of before the suggestions came flooding in, this one courtesy of The Swede from Unthought of, though, somehow who proposed this by Cavern of Anti-Matter who, for the uninitiated (i.e. me), are Joe Dilworth and Tim Gane, formerly of Stereolab, possibly one of the most missed and most under-rated (if that’s not a contradiction, and if it is, I’m sure it’s one which would please them immensely) bands of the last twenty years or so:
I like that. A lot. Thanks for nudging it under my nose, Swede.
Which leads us quite nicely onto another suggestion by Alex G:
“When they recorded ‘Echo Beach’, Martha And The Muffins’ drummer was one Tim Gane. Another Tim Gane was more famously (not *much* more famously, I admit) the lead guitarist of McCarthy and Stereolab. [I just told them that – Ed] So I’ll go for….”
“…double link there if I’m not mistaken…” pleads Alyson. Hmmm…Echo, yes…Seas -> Beach…what do you reckon, Chain Gangers? Oh go on then: Points!
I first posted that song way back in August 2015, accompanied by a retelling of one of the many faux pas I’ve committed over the years. Since some of you may not have frequented these pages that long ago, indulge me for a moment whilst I relate this one, which took place circa 1984, as I waited for the school bus and found myself chatting to one of the “cool kids” at school. He liked cool music (i.e. not Quo) and during this conversation he extolled the virtues of ‘Seven Seas’. My response, a rather pathetic and, as it transpired, ill-judged, attempt to ingratiate myself, was to talk at length about the lead singer fire-eating on Top of the Pops and how impressive he was. I realised mid-flow that my conversation piece was attracting some quizzical looks. And that was because I had completely mis-heard him. When he had said ‘Seven Seas’, I had thought he had said this song title:
Not cool, just…not.
Anyway, moving swiftly on, here’s Walter from A Few Good Times in My Life with the scecond song this week that I’ve never heard before. Over to you Walter:
“They might be forgotten but this song is still worth to listen to sometimes…”
Actually, that was Walter’s second suggestion. His first was for an Echo & The Bunnymen track, and I think enough time has passed since the last one to allow me to post his, which needs no introduction:
Which leads us on to a very brief sub-category, those of song titles which repeat, or, you might say, echo themselves. This is by far my favourite category of the week. You’ll see why. Julian from Music from Magazines suggested this, which probably doesn’t need any further explanation:
The Quo, there, demonstrating on the record sleeve their renowned empathy for the Black Power movement.
And that brings to an end that sub-category of song titles which repeat, or, you might say, echo themselves.
You know what I haven’t said for a while? I haven’t said the words: “And here’s the next suggestion of an Echo & the Bunnymen song, this time by *insert name of Chain Gang member here*“. I feel an overwhelming need to say it again. But not just yet. I’ll wait til I’m asked.
And here’s the next suggestion of an Echo & the Bunnymen song, this time by Dirk from sexyloser with the closest we’ve had to a Showboating Suggestion so far:
“Nominated to be one of the world’s most beautiful beaches back in 2012, 2014 and 2015 was Burundi’s coast fronting Lake Tanganyika: if you’ve never been there, you really have missed a treat, I can tell you!
So obviously the correct link can only be Echo & The Burundimen (yes, it’s the Bunnymen in disguise, but still I haven’t made that [name] up, just listen to McCulloch’s intro!) and ‘Zimbo’, the 1982 Shepton Mallet live version though!”
And that does bring us to the end of the Echo section. Except…
Except, you’ll recall that I mentioned five of you had suggested songs by Echo & The Bunnymen, and so far we’ve only had four. Well, GMFree suggested their rather wonderful comeback single ‘Nothing Lasts Forever’ but then ploughed through the entire history of suggestions in The Chain and retracted that on the grounds that it had featured back in #31 so I wouldn’t have been able to allow it. (Oh, and whilst I’m on songs I couldn’t allow – Lynchiefromab, if you check the Comments in the last Chain, you’ll see that I wasn’t sure if yours were suggestions or just recommendations; if the latter then, thank you, and you’re right, but if the former than I couldn’t allow either of them as they contravene rule No. 6: “Suggestions must be more than just naming a different song by the same artist. You’re cleverer than that.” And I know that you are. Sorry!) However, GMFree did propose a different Echo & The Bunnymen track, a cover version, but suggested that I might post the original instead, since the performers have never featured in The Chain before.
In case you’ve no idea what Jules is blethering on about, Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy is the best known stage name of Will Oldham, but he has also recorded under variations of the Palace name, including the Palace Brothers, Palace Songs, and Palace Music. As you know, I prefer it if there’s only one suggestion per person for the same band, but since these two versions are so different, and since they were recorded under different monikers, and since I allowed GMFree to suggest more than one tune by Steven Jones last week for the same reason, I guess I’ll have to let it slide this time.
Speaking of GMFree and Steven Jones:
“Mentioning Mr Jones is too easy on this occasion as Babybird was signed to the Echo label, instead I’ll just suggest one track from his 27th (!) album as Black Reindeer…available through Bandcamp.”
Now, I wouldn’t normally buy a track specifically for The Chain, preferring the suggester to provide me with a copy, but I was intrigued by that title so I downloaded that song from the band’s Bandcamp page, as recommended. And shortly afterwards, I got an email from Steven Jones which read: “Ooh a bit topical that purchase Sx”. Which was nice. So I’ll not complain about being out of pocket. This time.
You’d have to have had your head buried in the (beach) sand to not understand what he was referring to, and as it happens, this was not the only track which referenced the forthcoming apocalypse.
“‘Echo Beach’ puts me in mind of the 1959 film ‘On the Beach’, which depicts the aftermath of a devastating nuclear war. (Not a surprising image, considering the current state of affairs, I suppose.) The film stars Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner, Fred Astaire and Anthony Perkins and is based on Nevil Shute’s 1957 novel. Anyway, as I’ll use any excuse to post some black gospel quartet music, my selection is the 1950 ‘a capella’ version of…”
Well, bar that last little excursion, we appear to not only be in nuclear war related territory – cheerful! – but also Beach related, so let’s have some more of those. And since that last song contains the lyric “Hello New Order!”, it seems appropriate for us to go back and find out what Swiss Adam’s other suggestion was:
“‘Echo Beach’ takes me to the remixed version of Blue Monday from its b-side in ’83…”
So, having exhausted all of the suggestions about echoes, beaches and, of course, Nazis and impending nuclear doom, we’ll move onto something a lot nicer. Back to Martin who suggests this as a double linker:
Which leads me onto this, a track lifted from one of those typically patchy tribute albums that were all the rage once upon a time one of those tribute albums, which were all the rage once upon a time, and which could (typically) be a little on the patchy side (and this one really is patchy).
In case you’re wondering what that’s doing there, give it a listen partly as there’s an extra verse, not in the original, which links to Martin’s last choice, but mostly because it’s an utterly wigged-out mental cover version.
And whilst we’re still on chocolate cake, it’s about time I posted another clip:
Right, that’s Muffins pretty much covered, right?
Well, actually, not quite. Here’s Rol from My Top Ten:
“Muffin was a Mule and a Mule is sort of like an Ass… though very slightly different.” Which brings us to, rather rudely:
Let’s have some Echo Beach/Martha and the Muffins facts to raise the tone a little.
Fact One: Martha and the Muffins are Canadian.
“Plenty of Canadian bands/artist to choose from,” chips in Rigid Digit of Stuff & Nonsense, “including: Rush (but who has time to listen to the whole of Side 1 of ‘2112’?), Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Bryan Adams and Bachman-Turner Overdrive. All too obvious, but this bunch of Canadian one-hit wonders…:”
“Did you know,” pipes up George, inadvertently providing Fact Two, “that Echo Beach has been voted the 35th greatest Canadian song of all time? The greatest song is the execrable song ‘Four Strong Winds’ by Ian and Sylvia, which must surely get the Worst Song vote.”
Well, I’ll happily do that George, although you realise that would mean you’d have to agree the Chas & Dave record is better…? Along with two other songs yet to feature that we all know you’ll hate….?
Four strong winds, you say? Here’s four in varying levels of strength.
The ease and squeeze:
2. The Pant Ripper (a classic):
3. The Preposterously Executed:
and 4. The Accidental Decongestant:
Right, that’s…erm…got that out of my system. More factoids please!
Fact Three, courtesy of babylotti:
“‘Echo Beach’ was released in 1980 on DinDisc records, another record that was released in 1980 on Dindisc records, and one that I still have (okay, it was a re-release in 1980, but that’s the one I have) is…:
Before we get on to the final category, time for those two songs which George won’t like, the first of which is suggested by Alyson, and I think this one wins the award for Comment Showboat of the week (or have I already awarded that? I don’t know, I’m tired…). George, sorry, I was going to leave these two till last to make it easier for you to ignore them, but thematically they kind of need to be posted earlier.
Anyway, here’s Alyson’s suggestion:
“Martha’s Vineyard is actually a small island off the State of Massachusetts. It faces out onto the Atlantic and it’s where they filmed ‘Jaws’. The fake shark they used for the movie was given the name Bruce.” Which leads us to:
And so on to the final category, songs which link to Martha. And we’ll start off with my own double-linker for the week.
There’s a well known phrase in certain communities: “Is he Arthur or Martha?”. Well, here’s an Arthur, Arthur Lee to be precise, and he and his band are going to sing a Love-Lee song which has an Echo/Repeat/Again link too. Points please!
“First thought – got Martha on my mind now so I’d like to offer one of those songs that surely everybody knows and surely everybody likes? What better time for an office clerk with a very boring job to go down to Echo Beach than during a heatwave, too?”
Next up on the oche is The Robster from Is This The Life? Now, a few weeks ago, Rob announced that he was thinking about stopping writing his blog as he was feeling devoid of inspiration and was just going through the motions. I’ve often felt the same about this place, and I know others in our little blogging community have too. You may not know that Rob lives not a million miles away from where I used to in South Wales, and I love his blog for it keeps me in touch with what’s going on down in and around my old stomping ground so I’m delighted that he’s decided – for now – to keep going, albeit with less frequent posts.
I mention all this not to put any unintentional pressure on him to carry on, but because having cut back on his posts he seems to have gone a bit stir crazy, suggesting “I’m a Man” by The Spencer Davis Group on the basis that Martha & The Muffins were an all-male band. Getting confused by that whole “Arthur or Martha” issue there, I think.
To be fair, Rob did correct himself almost immediately (with a little help from Alex G, who I can confirm is not a qualified doctor, but is a very keen enthusiast), and redeemed himself by suggesting this, another of the records I’d never heard before, and which I’m really quite pleased that I have now. And it’s a double pointer, featuring as it does a Martha and “two items you might see at a beach”:
Time for Abramson60 next, who…erm…echoes some of the sentiments raised earlier:
“Looks like things are getting worse and worse US of A side, can it really get any worse? My suggestion this week could well be aimed at that excuse for a human being, Trump. No need to explain the link?”
Nope, but this young lady certainly needs to wash her potty-mouth out with soap and water:
Another from Alex G now, who suggests “…a lovely song which is never played on the radio because if it was, everybody would stop what they were doing to listen, at a cost to the UK economy of several squillion pounds.”
I agree, it is a lovely song, although I suspect were it played more often, people would stop what they were doing to remember when – and I’m sorry to bring it up again (I’m not in the least bit sorry, as it goes) – this happened:
More from Rol next, who suggests this next song on the grounds that a) it has the word “Martha” in the title, b) it doesn’t have any other words in the title, and c) he “…can’t believe nobody’s suggested it yet…”
And the presidential links don’t end there, for there was also of course Martha Jefferson, wife to Thomas, who became 3rd President of The United States in 1801. Martha would have been the third First Lady, had she not rather inconveniently died in 1782. Anyway, this Martha leads me to this ground-breaking house record from 1986:
And the other is…well, Mrs GMFree was not alone in suggesting it, for it was also proposed by Rigid Digit (and I thought one other person too, but I’m buggered if I can spot who it was now. If you suggested it and I have omitted to credit you, make yourself known and I’ll amend this bit).
Which means that for the first time ever, we have two people correctly guessing the next record in The Official Chain, which, with the simple explanation of “From one Martha to another…” is this:
So to wrap things up, your suggestions, please, for songs which link to “Martha My Dear” by The Beatles, along with a brief description of the link, via the Comments Section down below, in time for the next edition. Whenever that might be.
Delivery Man 1 [poking his head through the door]: Yes, this looks like it.
Delivery Man 1 backs into view, clipboard under arm, guiding a large object covered in a sheet, which is being pushed by Delivery Man 2 with considerably more effort than Delivery Man 1 is expending.
FX: The door slams shut.
Delivery Man 2: Whereabouts does it need to go? What does the order say?
Delivery Man 1 consults the clipboard.
Delivery Man 1: It says “Leave in the middle of the floor, covered, as if it’s been here for ages.”
Delivery Man 2 [with a shrug]: Bit weird, but if that’s what it says.
Job done, they exit, leaving the light on.
FX: the door opens and closes. Pause. Repeat.
An incredibly handsome, if fat and bald, man enters the room. He surveys the object before removing the sheet.
Incredibly handsome, if fat and bald, man: And we’re back in the room!
Hello, and welcome to The Chain. Where’ve you been? I’ve been waiting for you.
Prompted by a question about whether one of this week’s suggestions qualified under the rules, and nothing whatsoever to do with the amount of time since one of these posts appeared, nosireebob, I thought it might be best if I go over them again here, with a brief explanation of what we do here.
So, The Chain is a feature on BBC 6Music’s Radcliffe and Maconie show (and prior to that, their show on BBC Radio 2), where a record is played and they invite suggestions as to what record could be played next, which must link in some way to the one just played.
The difference here is that whilst they choose just one record to play, we try to post all of the suggestions which you submit.
The only rules are:
No suggested record can feature twice (unless it has only featured as part of The Official Chain). If you’re not sure – ask!
The only exception to this rule is “Back on the Chain Gang” by The Pretenders, which has been adopted as our theme tune
When making your suggestion, you must provide an explanation of the link between the two songs
You must already own a copy of it, and be willing to provide it (in case I don’t already own it or am unable to source it)
Suggestions must be more than just naming a different song by the same artist.
You can make as many suggestions as you like, but please, go easy on me, won’t you?
That’s about it. I award points every now and again, for Worst Record of the Week, Cheesiest Record of the Week, Comment Showboat of the Week, and of course, for anyone who happens to guess either the song or act (or both) that is the next record in the Official Chain, which becomes the source record for the following week. Nobody’s keeping score (well, I’m not anyway), the points are just a bit of fun.
Okay, that’s the admin done. Last time out, the source record was “The Universal” by Blur; personally, I found this a really tricky one to link to, especially as I have to wait and see what’s left after you guys have nominated all the good ones. Ho hum, such is life.
So, here we go then, and as usual, we’ll bracket them into several fairly broad categories and, as usual, we’ll probably wander off on a couple of tangents along the way.
Of course, CC was not alone in suggesting a link to something of Universal appeal; Dirk from sexyloser proffered thusly:
“…because not enough good German music is being featured on these pages, I’d like to link to Die Sterne – ‘Universal Tellerwäscher’ from 1994 …. which in fact is a mighty record indeed!”
I was going to make a rather unkind joke about the phrase “good German music” being an oxymoron, but then I listened to Dirk’s suggestion and have to agree, it is mighty fine (even if I have not one clue as to what it’s about, although Google Translate, which is never wrong, obviously, tells me that a Tellerwäscher is a dishwasher ):
From the Universal links, it’s one small step to the universe, and space in general, and to our second new member of The Chain Gang of the week, abramson60, the 60th from the very noble Abramson family, as Adam Buxton would say:
Anyway, abramson60 has certainly got the hang of how to make sure you get lots of tunes played here: list of a load of songs he’d considered before finally plumping for a completely different one. I, of course, cannot resist:
“Universe would automatically take me down the space road, so you could have….”
“…not forgetting that he went on to become the nation’s favourite spaced out artist.”
But, “…sticking with universe, The Rocky Horror Picture Show had long lasting and profound influence on the somewhat naive 16 year old me who first saw the film at the tail end of the 70’s. So my pick is ‘I’m Going Home’, not quite sure where to but somewhere in the outer reaches of space.” I’m not sure I quite follow the link there, but as it’s your first visit, I’ll let it slide this time:
Next up, Martin from New Amusements, who takes the “list a load of songs then pick a completely different one as their choice” approach adopted by abramson60 and combines it with Rigid Digit’s focus on the song’s lyrics:
“The Universal includes a line about ‘satellites in every home’ so we could go with that, enabling…”
If I could just butt in for a moment, I can’t hear that record without thinking of this record (and vice versa) since I can’t help but think that while it’s not a straight-out sample, the synth melody line, owes more than a little debto the old instrumental Martin suggests:
Martin’s actual choice will follow in a moment, but props where props are due, the category it falls into was first suggested by The Robster from Is This The Life? (well, actually, it was first mentioned by Rigid Digit last week time)
“My link comes in the form of British Gas adverts. The Universal was, as you point out, used in an ad campaign for British Gas. So was ‘More Than A Feeling’ by Boston, which despite ticking all the middle-of-the-road 70s AOR boxes, is a damn fine tune and one I always find myself playing air guitar to. True!”
It may well be, but unfortunately that’s featured in The Chain before, so, as per the rules above, I can’t allow it this week. Sorry!
Tell you what, have another go:
“Another gem from the British Gas archive is the wonderful ‘Rescue Me’ by Fontella Bass which cannot fail to give everyone a lift on a Monday morning.”
Back to Martin again: “…let’s go down the route of the Blur track’s British Gas-based ubiquity, all the excuse we need to have ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash’ by The Rolling Stones, since that tells us ‘it’s a gas, gas, gas.'”
After those words from our sponsors, back to The Great Gog:
“‘The Great Escape album’ from which The Universal is taken also includes a song called ‘Top Man’. When I was younger (and a little less Great) I used to venture into Manchester and frequent a store of that name, and occasionally even buy something. Having done this, my then-significant other would drag me to where she wanted to buy stuff – Chelsea Girl. Obviously the title of a song by Simple Minds…”
“…so,” Rol continues, “I’ll point us towards the character of Seymour in the movie ‘The Little Shop of Horrors’ and suggest the song ‘Feed Me, Seymour’ as sung by the killer plant Audrey II (aka Levi Stubbs from The Four Tops).”
You can all count yourself lucky that I decided not to post the version with Gazza on it. Actually, that might have been quite appropriate, since writing and indeed reading The Chain often has the air of a hostage situation about it, so maybe we should expect him to rock up with a bucket of fried chicken and a fishing rod.
I’ve got Snuff covering that too somewhere, but let’s not overdo it, eh? That would take us over the 2 minutes of Snuff records mark, which would never do.
Any more, abramson60?
“Having said all of that I would much prefer to offer up Dr Phibes and the House of Wax Equations (any brownie points for extra long band names?) [Nope – Ed] and Hazy Lazy Hologram, link being obvious and in hazy, and everyone loves drug induced music, don’t they?”
And what of the individual members of Blur, there must be some links there, right?
Guess what, here’s abramson60. Again.
“Blur’s singer is Damon Albarn who is the son of Keith Albarn, who once managed Soft Machine, whose drummer Robert Wyatt went onto have a solo career, recording ‘Shipbuilding’ which as we all know was written by Elvis Costello, who took part in the Red Wedge tours along side Billy Bragg. So my suggestion has to be ‘Valentine’s Day Is Over’.”
I have two things to say about this. Firstly, I had no idea of the Albarn connection to Soft Machine, and secondly, abramson60 did suggest this back on February 15th, which makes his choice of Billy track a little more understandable.
Speaking of George, he’s been rather quiet so far this week, so here’s the first of his suggestions:
“Damon Albarn was/is also in a band called Gorillaz, and gorillas are in a branch of primates, as are monkeys, leading to ‘Monkey On My Back’ by The Triffids (from the Field of Glass EP). I think the song is not actually about monkeys.”
(My apologies, by the way: I realised I’ve misnamed the mp3 as Toots and The Maytals, rather than just The Maytals, but I really can’t be arsed with changing it.)
The Great Gog’s back again:
“I did have one more up my sleeve, but left it in case anyone else came up with it – they haven’t , so here goes. Blur’s lead singer is D. Albarn. Shuffling one of those letters to the left a bit allows me to type Dr. Alban, the early 90’s hitmaker who made such a lasting impression on me that I can only recall one of his tunes…”
“When he is not doing that [being in Blur] he schmoozes up to his famous neighbours David Cameron and Jeremy Clarkson. He also pretends to make cheese which gives us a lovely link to ‘Gorgonzola’ by Leslie Sarony.”
I may aswell chuck one in to the Alex-mix. When he isn’t making cheese, or being in Blur, he’s also popped up in some questionable novelty acts, most famously with Fat Les, but also in Wig Wam, a truly awful project that I’m not going to offend your ears by playing. His partner-in-crime there, though, was one Alison Clarkson aka Betty Boo:
But since all the rest of the band are getting at least two songs, we may as well have one of his singles. Friends of mine will attest that every time we’ve heard thisplayed out, I always point out that the intro sounds a lot like “Into the Valley” by Skids (Since nobody has ever agreed with me on this point, I’d post it so you could compare, but as it’s already featured on The Chain once before, I can’t. Who made these stupid rules up anyway??):
Which just leaves drummer Dave Rowntree, and a suggestion by The Beard:
“He shares his surname with the confectioners Rowntree. They are based in York and created the KitKat. York City’s Bootham Crescent ground was for a period renamed KitKat Crescent. ‘Crystal Crescent’ is a track by Primal Scream amd nothing to do with chocolate or the city of York.”
Which just leaves us to reveal what the next record in the Official Chain is, and many of you will have noticed the absence of one particular song from the start of this post, when we looked at songs with the word “Universal” in the title. Many people wanted to suggest this, but Swiss Adam from baggingarea was the first out of the traps so the kudos and points are his this week:
“The Small Faces have their own ‘Universal’ which is a lovely song.”
So, all that laves me to do is to ask for your suggestions, please, for songs which link to “The Universal” by Small Faces, along with a brief description of the link, via the Comments Section down below, in time for the next edition.
Let’s say that will be next week, and see what happens, eh?
When Hel and I stopped living together, I inherited all of her vinyl.
Wait, that makes it sound a like a messy divorce settlement.
What I mean is that when Hel moved out of our shared flat, she allowed me to look after her vinyl as they had no means of playing it in her new home. Very generous of her, I’m sure you’ll agree.
For his 40th birthday in January, Hel bought her chap (and my buddy) Neil a turntable, so we’re in the process of arranging them coming over to collect all of her vinyl. I’m hoping to be able to negotiate visiting the vinyl every other weekend. Fingers crossed.
All of this means that I suddenly have a shelf to fill.
About a year ago, I found that my own turntable had died, so I bought a new one. Whenever I’ve moved into a new house before, I’ve made sure that the first thing I’ve done is set up the stereo (how old does that make me sound, describing it as a “stereo”??), and then the first thing I’ve played in my new home has been a record by The Smiths. In recent times, this has been a CD, but since I’d bought a new turntable, I figured I’d blow the dust off my vinyl, and christen it in the appropriate manner.
Except I suddenly found that I no longer had any of my albums by The Smiths on vinyl.
Or any of my vinyl albums by The Wedding Present.
Or any of my vinyl albums by R.E.M.
And a few more besides.
It was as if someone had gone through my vinyl, picked out the records that I loved the most, and taken them from me.
Let me be clear: there are certain records which I have parted company with over the years, usually because I was skint and needed to make myself a couple of quid pronto. But there is absolutely no way I would have sold any of these, especially not my Smiths albums, all original pressings on Rough Trade with the droll Manc comments etched into the run-out grooves.
I have my suspicions about what happened to them; I think a former flatmate of ours, who suddenly moved out when Hel and I were at work one day, with no notice, leaving us with a load of bills to pay and an empty room to fill (and the rent to make up), decided to take them with him. Either that, or one of the randoms that a later flatmate developed a habit of bringing back from the pub and letting them sleep in our living room (where the vinyl lived) took a shine to them.
So, I’ve decided to track down new copies of all that I used to own, original copies/label only, which as you can imagine has led to quite a lot of trawling through ebay listings recently.
And whilst I’ve had some limited success in repurchasing my lost vinyl, I’ve also found myself buying some other records which either my brother or my Dad owned, which I liked when I was a kid, even if I’d never have admitted it at the time.
So, in lieu of me writing The Chain today (which will be back, just not today) I thought I’d tread all over the toes of my peers JC at The Vinyl Villain and CC at Charity Chic Music (and probably a lot more besides) by posting some of the vinyl I bought recently.
Here’s the first, from a double vinyl, gatefold-covered album my brother owned, which, for reasons which escape me now, I claimed not to like at the time, but which secretly I loved:
Today is Andrew’s birthday. Andrew is my older/only brother.
For once I don’t have to take international time-zones into consideration to ensure that he reads my birthday wishes on the right day, for this year he’s home from India and back in the UK for a couple of weeks.
To mark the occasion, I’m travelling up to my folks for the weekend, and to inevitably spend Saturday night sitting up and drinking Jack Daniels with him. Often when I go home, I’ll prepare a playlist of stuff to listen to, but often this has to take into consideration what the ‘rents will put up with having to listen to. So I thought this week, I’d post a few songs here which remind me of my Big Bro because…well, he bought (most of) them when we were kids.
As I was choosing the songs to play tonight, it occurred to me that my musical evolution followed a pretty similar path to his. This is hardly surprising since I used to listen to his records in that period before I started buying my own on a regular basis. We both had: a dodgy rock stage, a dodgy pop phase, followed by some semblance of redemption by way of liking something approaching decent indie records (although he had more than a passing Goth phase too).
I’ve talked about some of the records from our shared past before, here and he even wrote about the songs he bought when he was younger here. I’ve tried to avoid the songs played on those posts and focus on the…less cool stuff. For a start, anyway.
(By the way: my file sharing service Cut Pi, seems to be becoming increasingly erratic, and doesn’t seem to recognise some of the mp3s as being mp3s. It’s been doing this for a while and I can’t work out why. Upshot is, some of the links are shared via Zippyshare. Hope they work okay. And George – you got your wish.)
So let’s break these into the aforementioned three sections.
The Rock Stage
Of course, he had bought AC/DC’s seminal 1980 “Back in Black” album, (and later owned copies of “Let There Be Rock” and “If You Want Blood…You Got It!” (an album title I always thought would have been better suited to Kiss or Alice Cooper) but I imagine you all know pretty much every song from that album, so I’ve plumped for this from their 1981 release, which pretty much sums up us at the time, the band, and how the start of tonight’s post is going to go:
Shortly after we moved into what became the family home throughout our childhood (mid-1970s), our parents converted a part of the loft into what they christened “The Playroom” – which was fine whilst we were kids, when it housed Andrew’s model train set and my Dr Who toys, but a little embarrassing, in the way that teenagers find everything embarrassing, when they would suggest we took any friends who called round up to The Playroom, which by our teens housed a sofa, a TV and a record player.
At first, the record player was one of those old ones, with the arm that came across and held your next record on the spindle whilst the current record played underneath. But soon, Andrew had saved enough cash up to purchase his first stereo system, one of those with a radio, twin tape deck, a space for records to be stored, a silver beast housed in a teak cabinet with a glass door to the front.
This next album made regular appearances on both turntables; I preferred the album’s title tracks, whilst Andrew always loved this one, ironically, I like to think, given he spent 20-odd years in the RAF:
Next, a song which he didn’t buy, but every time I hear it I am reminded of those formative years spent listening to records, and in particular one Thursday evening when we had been banished upstairs to watch Top of the Pops, on which this record appeared, and which led to the pair of us leaping up from the sofa and frantically playing air-guitar, in full on foot-on the monitor mode:
The reason I think I remember that is because it was probably a turning point, where we both admitted to liking the same records as each other. Up until then, we hated, or pretended to, each other’s musical choices – dammit, we pretended to hate each other (that’s what siblings did when they were that age, right?), having many a play fight which spilt over into full on physical violence, as the snooker cue that I broke over his back once attests (Look, he was bigger than me, I was fully entitled to come tooled up, okay?). As does the broken violin bow we had argued over a few years earlier when we had both found ourselves learning the instrument at Junior School. (I know, I know – fights involving violin bows: it’s not exactly “Angela’s Ashes”, is it…?)
(As an aside: my friends Hel and Llyr went to the Reading Festival in 2005 when Iron Maiden head-lined. They watched them, and afterwards reported that the section of the crowd they were in were distinctly non-plussed by the veteran rockers. Lead warbler Bruce Dickinson, attempting to whip the crowd up into a frenzy would call “Do you remember this one…?”; the crown responded as one “Nope!”)
Particularly indicative of our love/hate relationship came one Saturday night in, I guess, the early 80s. Saturday nights were a family night, which we would spend playing records from my Dad’s record collection. As I’ve mentioned on numerous occasions, Dad’s taste is predominantly Country records, but there was/is diversity there: he likes a bit of jazz, some folk, some classical. There was a series of classical albums that he owned, a spin off from a BBC radio programme, called “The World of Your Hundred Best Tunes” (a name I toyed with giving this very blog, until I realised there may be copyright issues). We were categorically not allowed to bring our own records down to play. But my brother figured out a way round this, and got one song – a cover version of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony by the next band from their “Difficult to Cure” album – played. So offended was I that he had been allowed to have one of his songs played, but I hadn’t (as I had no rock covers of classical records) I spent the entirety of the song under the dining room table, kicking and screaming about “how unfair” it was. (“So Unfair” was, I’m reliably informed, mostly anytime my parents watch any Harry Enfield sketch involving Kevin & Perry, practically my catchphrase when I was a teenager. This was just me warming up, I reckon)
Obviously, I’ve mellowed with age. But I’m still not playing “Summertime” by DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince unless someone comes up with a bloody good reason to. And I mean bloody good.
Anyway, I’m not playing the Beethoven cover either; since they’re unlikely to feature again (more than once more) on these pages, I thought I’d plump for the big single from the same album:
Rainbow were, of course, one of the many bands to rise from the ashes of Deep Purple, another band that we begrudgingly admitted to having a shared passion for back then. Again, Big Bro’s record collection featured several of their albums, but the first I recall seeing – and to this day, the only one I’ve ever purchased myself (Cheers Fopp (Cardiff branch) and your £2.00 shelf!) – was a compilation album called “Deepest Purple”, from which this one is lifted:
And you’ll be relieved to hear, that’s the end of the Rock Stage…
The Pop Phase
…and perhaps less relieved when you see what comes next.
Luckily for you, I’ve talked before – here – about the fact that we both mysteriously somehow came to own our own copies of Billy Joel’s “An innocent Man” album, so I’ll spare you that.
Ditto, I’ve previously posted – here – the two songs from Cyndi Lauper’s “She’s So Unusual” album, which he also owned that are any good (and I’m not going to post “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” as it annoys me even more than the aforementioned “Summertime”)
But here’s a song by a band I’ve never really liked but – and I can say this without fear of correction, as he denies remembering anything from our childhood – I’m pretty sure Andrew joined the fan-club of:
Twins, see? And there were three of them. Pfffffft. Funny guys (and a girl). (They were named after the characters from the Tintin cartoons, as everyone knows – The Ed)
Moving swiftly on, to a song which I had completely forgotten about until Brian over at Linear Tracking Lives! posted it a month or so in his wonderful alphabetical trawl through his own record-buying history.
Lifted from her “The Drum is Everything”, much was expected of Carmel and her brand of smoky, jazzy pop, but she feel by the wayside shortly after this was released (although I did pick up one of the singles from the follow-up album, which I’ll feature soon enough, and which utterly tanked):
I should at this point talk about the records by groups like The Go-Go’s which he brought back from a summer in America staying with relatives, working on their blueberry farm. Instead, I’m going to post something from an album which contains another of my most disliked pop songs ever by another group I was fairly indifferent to for much of their existence, but with the benefit of hindsight I can see did have some decent pop tunes, particularly in their early 80s synth-pop phase.
But the album Andrew bought by Eurythmics – “Be Yourself Tonight” – does not come from that period. It comes from their just-after-the-synth-pop-phase, and from an album which brought their only UK Number 1, the aforementioned disliked pop song “There Must Be an Angel (Playing With My Heart)” (It’s the over-singing that does my head in). The album spawned two other hits: “Would I Lie To You?”, which I posted recently, and this one, which I’d completely forgotten about until I came to write this, gave it a listen, and decided it’s not too bad at all:
But there was one band from his pop period who loomed large. I believe they were the first band he ever saw live (albeit supporting The Police), and, as I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, a band I’ve got a bit of a soft spot for too:
I don’t recall which of these albums first surfaced on The Playroom’s record decks (ha! like it was anyway near as cool in there as that sounds), what I do know is that a) I have recently bought both of these albums on vinyl myself, and b) shortly after The Jam album appeared I remember laughing at my brother for wearing white socks, the only mod accessory one could get away with at our school. Still, at least he didn’t steal them, of if he did, he wasn’t dumb enough to get caught. Ahem.
But these were the first shoots of liking more credible records, for very soon, we were fully into stage three, where he has resided ever since.
The Road to Redemption
There’s only one place to start. The Alarm’s haircuts may have influenced his for many years afterwards, when he could get away with it, but it was the dress sense and image of one of the Sex Pistols that most captured his imagination. He was told many times that he looked like this sneerer, which I’m pretty sure always thrilled him, however indifferent he may have appeared to look.
It’s credited to Sex Pistols, but make no mistake, released in 1978 as the band were imploding, this is a Sid Vicious record in everything but name:
And so, with his black hair sprayed vertically, skinny black jeans with black studded belt and black winkle-pickers or occasionally cowboy boots (which, if memory serves, were brown when he bought them, unable to source a black pair, and which he spent several hours glossing over with a tub of Kiwi black polish and an oily rag), there was only one place he was going to go next:
He also bought the one and only album by this next lot, who I mention because I cannot hear it without thinking of the summer I spent as an underage drinker, hanging out with him and his mates Rob and Phil, driving round Cambridgeshire’s village pubs, where no-one knew our names, pubs like The Barnwell Mill, which had a massive juke box, and only one record they liked upon it. Once they realised that it didn’t differentiate between the same song having been selected twice by different people, they realised they could have hours of fun, by simply playing this, over and over and over and over and over again, often leaving after they’d heard it once, leaving the rest of the drinkers to sup their way through it another 17 times:
Gradually, our musical tastes have pretty much merged. At no time was this more apparent than when I was at Sixth Form, between 1986 and 1988. As I mentioned recently, on a nightly basis I found myself preparing mixtapes to play in the Sixth Form common room the following day, and there was one album which Andrew had bought which was invaluable for that. For he is the only person I know to have bought the legendary NME C86 album when it came out (admittedly, he bought the vinyl version, not the original cassette only version, but props are still due).
This band featured on the album in question, but not with this song, which he both realised we loved within the last few years, when discussing how much the much-missed The Long Blondes reminded us of them:
In 1997, our paths crossed back at our folks house, and, presumably after they’d gone to bed we were either playing records, or more likely watching a music TV channel, this came on. I’d not seen him so enthused for some years (actually, I’d probably not seen him for years), and he proclaimed this “the new punk”:
At which point, I’d better draw things to a close. If I don’t, it won’t be his birthday anymore by the time I post this.
So, one last one, by a band I remember him going to see towards the start of their career, and telling me afterwards how he’d been to see a band who used bashing-themselves-on- the-head-with-a-metal-tea-tray as a percussion instrument. I’d be very surprised if this doesn’t get an airing tomorrow night:
Happy Birthday Bro. See you tomorrow. I’ll bring the Jack Daniels.
And to the rest of you – well, as I’m away, it’ll be a little quiet around here for the next couple of days, certainly not as busy as it normally is of a weekend. If I have time to write them before I set off tomorrow, there will be a Late Night Stargazing and a Sunday Morning Coming Down, but no promises. Otherwise, The Chain will return on Monday, so you’ve got another couple of days to get your suggestions in if you haven’t done so already.