Happy When It Rains

Yup. That’s right. My last post was accurate almost to the minute.

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The Jesus & Mary Chain – Happy When It Rains

More soon.

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The Best Band You’ve Never Heard Of

You know the schtick round these parts by now: post a song within a series, or drop a vaguely amusing story (and link it to a song), or bang on about politics (and link it to a song) blah blah blah.

But the songs I post are generally older ones that you all know already, or maybe have forgotten about; as historically I have never been first to discover a band, I prefer to leave all that “breaking new acts” to those with a better ear for that kind of thing, and a better turn of phrase for describing it than I.

But this morning: something different. The story of a band who peaked in the mid-to-late 1980s then promptly vanished without a trace, amid animosity, violence and even rumours of death and murder.

And I know for a fact that you won’t have heard of them, or anything by them.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the magnificent:

Third Light

I mention Third Light¬†now because today¬†the three founder members, Rob, Phil and “Swing” will be reconvening. It is the first time they have¬†laid eyes on each other in over thirty years.

Let’s get the admin out of the way first: Third Light is one of the coolest band names ever. Fact. But what does it mean?¬†Well, Wikipedia tells us that Third Light¬†is supposedly ¬†a¬†superstition among soldiers during the¬†Crimean War¬†to World War II. Since then it has been considered bad luck for three people to share a light from the same match. The superstition goes that if three soldiers lit their cigarettes from the same match, the man who was third on the match would be shot. The enemy would be alerted to their presence by the first light, able to take aim by the second, and by the third…well, you get the idea.

It would turn out to be a most prophetic name.

The trio first met at school, but had little to do with each other until one Friday night in their final year when¬†a “disco”, for want of a better word, was held in the school hall. But this was no ordinary school disco, it was open to locals too.¬†And more importantly, it had a fully licensed bar. And even more importantly than that, one of the more senior teachers worked behind the bar and he was perfectly happy to serve alcohol to his pupils, even when he recognised them out of uniform, so to speak. (Indeed, it was this teacher and this act of generosity which¬†inspired the first band name suggested: Cliff and the Babes, a name rejected for sounding too much like a novelty act. As if Cliff would have anything to do with children. Take heed, BBC!)

The three found themselves at the bar together, supping pints of snakebite and black, all suddenly aware that they were rocking a very similar look: dressed all in black, hair spiked-up, skinny tight jeans. It was to become a look adopted by their many fans over the next few years; indeed you sometimes spot them to this day. You might know them as goths, or Emo, but back in the day they were known as Lighters.

And it was in this crowded bar on that Friday night that the three of them looked each other up and down and all came to the same decision: it’s not my round. And then they came to another one: these two geeks are my ticket out of here.

They didn’t need a ticket out of there that night though; they were chased out by a group of local thugs who didn’t appreciate people turning up looking a bit different. That night they were forever united as the pitchfork brandishing and flaming torch waving lynch mob kicked seven bells of shit out of them on the village green. Apparently it’s quite hard running away from danger when you’re in skinny jeans, a flouncy blouse¬†and winkle-pickers.¬†If there was any justice in this world, which we know there isn’t, but if there was, then¬†there would be a blue plaque to them there now.¬† But there isn’t.

The next day, the freshly bandaged three amigos met up again, and their master plan was hatched. They would buy guitars and maybe even learn to play them. The group was split on the need to actually learn how to play their instruments: Phil thought it was important, Rob said he wasn’t going to bother unless the other two definitely were going to, “Swing” pointed out that Sid Vicious couldn’t play his bass guitar and it never did him any harm, Rob and Phil agreed that was a fair point, but the heroin addiction and propensity to murder his own girlfriend didn’t exactly do him much good either.

They did agree that¬†the first step in their march to world domination was to gain notoriety. And so¬†it was that they went to¬†the pub, played some pool and politely agreed with the regular customers that you don’t get two shots on the black,¬†put loads of money in the juke box, programmed it to play Sigue Sigue Sputnik’s Love Missile F1-11 on repeat until all of their money had run out, then left mid-way through the first rendition.

But the cracks were already appearing. Phil did¬†buy a guitar and set about learning some basic chords.¬†Rob told him to let him know once he could play A7, and he’d think about trying to. But several months later, when Phil had¬†mastered that chord, Rob sent him away again, with the same instruction, but this time for¬†F#, but as¬†a bar chord, mind, not the easy way. The¬†chain of command had been established.

“Swing” meanwhile got hold of an electric guitar which, rather than make any attempt at learning to play, he¬†set about taking apart to see how it worked. And after he’d done that, he realised he didn’t know how to put it back together again, so that was the end of that. Back to being the Sid of the band it was, then.

And still the music, the sweet, sweet music kept not coming. The trio worked hard on their “difficult first album”; they designed a logo (as above) and came up with a title: “It Don’t Mean a Thing if it Ain’t Got That Swing.”

And then, the irony-o-meter went off the scale as suddenly the band no longer had Swing. He disappeared without a trace. Many said that he was dead, some said he was murdered. Then came the usual Lord Lucan-esque rumours that he had been spotted. In much the same way as conspiracy theorists said that Paul McCartney was dead because he appeared on the cover of Abbey Road with no shoes on, so the whispers grew that Swing had been spotted on a zebra crossing wearing nothing but his shoes.

Rob and Phil soldiered on, arranging publicity shots to send out as missives to the likes of the NME. Only one photo survives from that shoot:

Third Light promo

In a rare interview in 2015, Phil added a further layer to the mystery, when he was quoted as saying: “It’s an interesting story. Being only weeks after Swing died, Rob and I decided to push on with the new single release. This publicity shot was the first one since his death. Imagine our surprise when the picture was developed with Swing’s face in between us.”

But the band could not recover from the loss of their most enigmatic, if musically ungifted member, and they disbanded just as the major labels were forming orderly queues to sign them up (it says here).

But now they’re back, Back, BACK! And who knows, maybe this time around they may get around to actually recording something. If they do (they won’t) I suspect it will sound like a hybrid of these¬†five bands, all of whom were cited as influences in early interviews:

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The Sisters of Mercy – Alice

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The Jesus & Mary Chain – Taste of Cindy

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Pop Will Eat Itself – Oh Grebo I Think I Love You

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The Pleasureheads – Falling Man

Front Cover

The Alarm – Third Light

Ah.¬†Maybe that’s where they got¬†their name from, then…

Anyway, truth be told, they’re more likely to go find a local pub which has a pool table and this on the juke box:

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Sigue Sigue Sputnik – Love Missile F1-11

More soon.

PS: have a splendid weekend (this weekend) catching up, chaps.

And have a great birthday (next weekend), Bruv. Please can you put my guitar back together again sometime soon?

Dear Points of View

Dear Barry Took (or whoever hosts Points of View these days. Is it even on anymore…?)

I’ve been greatly enjoying Smashing Hits! The 80s Pop Map of Britain & Ireland,¬†the music documentary series currently showing on BBC4 where 80s pop icons Midge Ure of Ultravox¬†and ‚Ķ erm ‚Ķ *checks notes* … Kim Appleby of Mel and Kim drive around the countries, interviewing leading lights from the 80s pop scene in various towns and attempting to demonstrate that the records they made could only have been conceived in the artists’ home towns at that specific time.

It’s an interesting way of reframing a potted history of the various musical scenes which popped up throughout the 80s, but of course I have a couple of gripes.

Firstly, that bloody awful title, with its superfluous exclamation at the start.

Secondly, it’s a bit too whirlwind. Episode One focused on London, Sheffield and Coventry, and featured interviews with Gary Kemp from Spandau Ballet, Marco Pirroni from Adam and the Ants, Pauline Black from The Selecter, and¬†Martin Ware and Glenn Gregory from Heaven 17, whilst featuring clips of tracks by all of the above and more. The time given to each city seemed about right, but Episode Two tried to cram in too much in too little a time when it attempted to cover all of the music from Scotland, Ireland and Wales in one show.

The Scottish segment was particularly frustrating, as they crammed interviews with¬†lovely Clare Grogan from Altered Images and¬†Pat Kane from Hue and Cry in between a whistle-stop summary of¬† Postcard Records, Aztec Camera, The Bluebells, The Proclaimers, Deacon Blue. The city in question was, of course,¬†Glasgow, and much was made of the fact that as it’s a port, here was the source of much hard-to-come-by music being imported. Hence, the documentary reveals,¬†many songs were¬†written by working class people about working class issues,¬†having absorbed mostly American musical influences.

I’m not saying that any of this is inaccurate, it was just that the segment of the show dedicated to Scotland/Glasgow was over far too quickly, and for my money overlooked one particular band who wore their influences on their leather sleeves.

Having gone to the effort of noting The Byrds’ jangly guitars lineage to¬†Orange Juice,¬†and the¬†connection between US¬†country and folk music on the likes of The Bluebells,¬†Texas and The Proclaimers, or¬†the significance of soul on Wet Wet Wet and Hue and Cry, then where the heck were The Jesus and Mary Chain?

William and Jim Reid¬†snaffled a look which was a hybrid of Velvet Underground cool and 60s garage rock grubbiness, then¬†pinched a load of ¬†Brian Wilson-esque melodies and set them against a backdrop of Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound – two of the¬†biggest American music icons ever, one of whom went mad, the other committed murder – and drenched them in squealing feedback to create a noise which¬†was their calling card¬†on one of the greatest debut albums not just of the 80s, but ever: Psychocandy.

Like this:

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The Jesus & Mary Chain – Never Understand

Exquisite.

To have talked about 80s music in Glasgow, and not even mention JAMC¬†was a¬†criminal oversight, and frankly it’s¬†not what I pay my TV licence fee for.

Yours Truly, Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells.

(More soon.)

Happy 50th, Shit Elvis!

It’s almost four years since I started writing this blog.

I mention this not because I want recognition for the longevity of it – although it is a minor miracle that I haven’t got bored of it yet – but to make a point.

Which is that I really didn’t expect I’d still be writing it now. And sometimes, the fact that I am still going causes me a bit of a problem.

You see, as long term readers will know, I use this place not just to furnish you with (hopefully) entertaining bon mots and tunes I like and hope you do too, but to pass on my best wishes to friends and family when birthdays and¬†moments of significance happen. Because, y’know, I’m too cheap to actually buy them a present or send a card – surely a mention and a tune on here is better than either of those things, right?

But, the thing is, the longer I write things here, the harder it becomes to write something new about the subject in question on their special day.

Take my brother, for example. He lives in India (for now, until the FEDs catch up with him) so we don’t see each other often, maybe once or twice a year. And so when he has a birthday, this is my medium for letting him know I’m thinking of him.

And when he hits a significant birthday, like he does today, his 50th birthday, I feel that I ought to pull out the stoppers and write something worthy of such an occasion.

But when I’ve written about him and the influence he has had on me and my music collection so many times already, what more is there to say?

Well,¬†he often points out (when I mention somebody or something from our dim and distant past, or when it comes to our parents’ birthdays or wedding anniversaries,¬†all of which¬†I assume he would remember but email him to check), ¬†‘I’m the one in charge of remembering stuff’, so perhaps there’s quite a lot.

He’s probably my longest serving reader (I hate the word follower – I’m not the Messiah, I’m a very naughty boy, to misappropriate a famous quote), and if he isn’t¬†then he’s certainly the family member who has been reading the guff I write here for the longest.

When he started reading this, he was very supportive; often I’d receive an email or a text from him telling me he liked what I’d written. He’s also the only person to so far accept my invitation to write a post for this place and have it published (I have a couple in reserve before the authors of those take offence). You can read that¬†here, and I have re-upped the links should you wish to listen to any of the songs mentioned. It’s annoyingly good (although I did send him back to rewrite it at least once, a process that he rightly compared to being back in double English class); I’ve just re-read it and laughed quite a lot.

I first told him about this place in January 2015, when he and I went to see The Jesus & Mary Chain perform their legendarily awesome¬†“Psychocandy” album at The Troxy in East London. If there’s one band who¬†will forever unify us, then it’s them: a band he loved when he was in his full-on Goth mode in the mid-80s, and a band that sweet na√Įve young me tried to resist the allure of, but could not. So this seems to be an appropriate moment to have our first musical interlude:

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The Jesus & Mary Chain – Some Candy Talking

I bought the tickets for that gig as a present, but actually it was payback for him buying me two tickets to go and see Squeeze back in 1987, when they had just reformed with Jools “boogie woogie”¬†Holland¬†in the line-up, on the tour to promote their¬†“Babylon and On” album. Which is a cue for another song, I think. But not from that album, because it’s not very good.

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Squeeze – Another Nail in My Heart

I’m painting this as a quite the harmonious relationship, aren’t I? It wasn’t always thus.

I don’t think he would argue much if I said that for quite a long time, when we were kids, we really didn’t like each other much, or rather liked each other only in that “You’re my brother so I have to like you” kind of way. We¬†fought a lot. Our childhood is littered with stories about how we managed to break stuff whilst fighting, most notably a violin bow (we both somehow ended up trying to learn how to play the screeching instrument when we were in Junior School) and a few years later, a snooker cue, which I distinctly recall breaking when I twatted him with it across the small of his back. Trust me, he was asking for it.

But I also remember the night that changed.

We had been growing closer as we got older, and saw less of each other, which may not be coincidental; also¬†he and his mates Rob and Phil had asked me to join them as representatives of their local pub in a Pool League. I was alright at pool at the time, indicative of a wasted childhood, although I would often try¬†a ridiculously adventurous shot which would result in me¬†accidentally potting the black. I don’t think I won a single game for them.

It was the journeys to the away matches that I loved, cruising round the sleepy backwaters of local villages, ‘Mary Chain and Sisters of Mercy blasting from the car stereo – those trips probably did more to meld my musical tastes than anything else. I was in a gang, albeit a gang who were terrible at pool, and since they liked this kind of music it seemed appropriate that¬†I should too.

I remember the night that we buried the hatchet, when no more snooker cues would be broken. It was his birthday, either his 19th or 20th, and we went to the local pub. We drank and chewed the fat, and on the short walk home he turned to me and said “You’re alright really, aren’t you?”

Which may not sound like much a of a compliment, but after ten years plus of battering each other, it was like the Good Friday talks writ small. And the feeling was mutual.

And since then, well, we’ve been friends. Which may not sound like much to most of you, but bearing in mind how much we fought when we were kids, and how infrequently we see each other, I’m pretty chuffed about.

As you will know if you’ve read that post he wrote, he joined the RAF at a young age, and remained in its loyal service, rising to the rank of Sergeant,¬†until the early 2000s, when the offer of early retirement and a decent pay-off was too good to decline. And so it was that the family was invited to an RAF base in Lincolnshire to pay witness to him leaving the forces.

I say the family, but rules are quite archaic on an RAF base; women were not allowed into the hall where a set meal and a presentation took place to honour all that were leaving, so my Dad, my brother and I went and ate, drank and were merry for an afternoon, whilst Mum had to entertain herself elsewhere.

Afterwards, we retired to the Officer’s Mess, where my Mum was permitted to join in; and there was a further perk – a subsidised bar. Not a free bar, a subsidised one, so the drinks were ridiculously cheap: 50 pence (I think, though it may have been 20p)¬†for whatever you wanted to drink, on the proviso that whenever you bought a drink, you bought the person serving you one too. Deal.

People who know me will be able to guess what happened next: a long afternoon and evening of drinking Jack Daniels and coke, a family trait, it turned out, as was commented on by many of my brother’s colleagues. I lost count of the amount of people I was introduced to who said something along the lines of “Oh Christ, does he drink as much of that stuff as you do?”

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Gene – Fill Her Up

The next day, in a severely hungover state, my Dad told me that he couldn’t believe how much my brother and I had drunk the night before:¬†we had, apparently, drunk nothing but Jack Daniels from about five in the afternoon until chucking out time (and even then we moved on to a different bar) at a rate of a new double every fifteen minutes or so. “I saw them change the bottle at least six times”, he said,¬†in a tone pitched somewhere¬†between concern and awe.

And then there was¬†my brother’s¬†actual demob party. For years he had a yearning to do the Monopoly Challenge – to have¬†a drink¬†in a bar at every location listed on a standard UK Monopoly board in one afternoon. And wouldn’t you know it, he invited me along, provided I brought my drinking trousers with me.

I buckled up.

And so it was that I travelled up from Cardiff to London one Saturday, met up with him and a bunch of his squaddie mates – the names of whom escape me, mostly (there was, I think,¬†a Pete and a Jeff)¬†for reasons which will become perfectly obvious if it hasn’t already – and at mid-day¬†I was bundled into a stretch limo at Kings Cross Station that they had hired for the day.

See, it turns out that my brother wasn’t the only person in the world who wanted to play this drinking game on a grand scale. In fact, there are companies who run specific tours allowing the party to play this game, with a pre-determined route taking you to a¬†bar at every stop on the¬†board. The only difference is that the driver wants to take you to each destination according to whichever was nearest; we, however, instructed him that we had to do it sequentially, in order, even if that meant it would take longer than to do it the way the limo company wanted you to do it.

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Echo & The Bunnymen – The Game

What I wanted to do now was post a song¬†which links to every property on the Monopoly board as I recounted what happened in which bar, but that proved too arduos a task (plus, my memory is kind of fuzzy about the whole day, so a running commentary is simply out of the question). So instead, here’s a song related to the Jail square:

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Gomez – Get Myself Arrested

Safely ensconced in the bosom of my new-found drinking partners, I was plied with a flute glass filled with a mixture of Guinness and champagne. Sounds revolting, turns out it was alright.

And then there was the Space Dust.

You remember Space Dust, right? A powder you placed on your tongue which popped and pinged and fizzed. This stuff:

Spacedust

Except the decision was made that we could not consume the Space Dust in the traditional manner. Instead, if we wanted to have some then it had to be ingested nasally.

This sounded like a blast to me, with a couple of Guinness and Champagne combos sloshing around inside me. And so, rolled up twenty pound note at the ready, I gave it a go.

Such an anti-climax. Rather than fizzing and popping in my nose as I had hoped, it just kind of congealed and sat there, like a big lump of snot. Kids take note: drugs , don’t do ’em.

Oh, one more thing you need to know before I report on the events of the day: his squaddie mates had insisted he dressed as Elvis (Presley, not Costello), so for the entire day he was wearing a white jumpsuit, a pair of 70s sunglasses, and a wig which slowly deteriorated as the day progressed.

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Manic Street Preachers – Elvis Impersonator: Blackpool Pier

And so, to Old Kent Road we went, then Whitechapel Road (to a bar which proudly advertised the fact that the Krays used to drink there) and so to The Angel Islington, and to a bar which I forget the name of, but which seemed to be a real old school boozer.

It was remarkably busy for that time of day; split into two rooms, the squaddies squeezed their way into the room next to where I was pinned; I could see through the doorway that it appeared to be very full, quite raucous, with all of the men Рand it was only men Рlooking in the same direction. I assumed there must be some sport on the TV in that room, and focused my attention on my beer.

Until…

Until a naked Japanese woman thrust a pint glass with pound coins in it under my nose. At which point the penny dropped.

She shook the pint glass.

“You see my show?” she said.

“Erm…no…I didn’t…sorry…” I replied, trying desperately to maintain eye contact.

“But you see me now?” she said, and gestured past her neck level.

Now that’s cheating, I thought. I haven’t asked to be here, I’ve not asked to see you all nudey, and even if I had, I haven’t seen the traditional transitional clothes on-to-off¬†sequence which generally is the thing men are willing to pay to see. All I’ve seen is a naked woman thrust a pint glass under my nose, and this was a regular sight at 3am on Caroline Street in Cardiff.

I made my excuses, downed my drink and went outside for a cigarette.

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The Cramps – Naked Girl Falling Down the Stairs

Before I go any further, I would like to stress that no naked girls were harmed in the making of this post. One of the bevy of beauties who continually go-go dance in my flat did fall downstairs once, but that was entirely coincidental, and the man who lives in the flat below me was most appreciative.

Get to the Orange properties on the Monopoly board, as we did around 5pm-ish on the day, and you’re faced with a bit of a problem: there are no pubs or bars on Vine Street. We asked the driver what we should do, and he pointed us in the direction of a pizzeria, where, as long as you bought some food, you could also buy beer. The address of the place wasn’t on Vine Street, but half of the restaurant area looked out onto it.¬†That’ll do, we thought, and several rounds of garlic bread later, we had another one ticked off. This seems appropriate:

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The Vines – Ride

By this time, bladders were full, so the concept of “Little Boy’s Wee” was introduced.

Worry not, we’re not about to go all Yew Tree on you.

Because we had reached the stage where most of us would be ready to visit the Gents, the jeopardy that was “Little Boy’s Wee”¬† was introduced. And that was this: if you went into the gents and encountered a fellow Monopoly member who wasn’t peeing like a little boy – that is, pants AND trousers around your ankles as you stood at the urinal, bare arse on display – then the next round was for the pee-er to get in.

I got some funny looks in that bar.

And so to the Red properties, and I wouldn’t be doing my job properly if that didn’t mean I post this…

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Roxy Music – Do The Strand

…but nothing of any interest happened on The Strand.

Trafalgar Square, on the other hand, was quite the opposite kettle of fish.

Our driver pulled up at Trafalgar Square, where we found the whole area was cordoned off. A stage, empty, stood at one end. Clearly, something was due to happen there in the next day or so. This, since my brother had decided he wanted to paddle in the fountains, was a problem.

We strutted up to the cordon, where we were greeted by a security guard.

“Sorry lads, no entry” he said, sort of firmly.

At which point, one of the squaddies – it may have been Pete, it may have been Jeff, it may have been one of the others – cocked a thumb in my brother’s direction. My brother, don’t forget, is dressed as 70s Elvis.

“Erm…but he’s the talent for tomorrow night,” he said. “This should have all been cleared. We’re just here to look the venue over and make sure it meets with the talent’s requirements.”

Unbelievably, the security guard, rather than phoning it in to check, just lifted the cordon and said “OK¬†then, in you go.”

At which point, a man dressed as Elvis ran forwards, dived into the fountain, resurfaced and started telling everyone to “Come on in, the water’s lovely. Uh-huh-huh”

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Los Campesinos! – You! Me! Dancing!

(The relevance of that record will become clear if you listen to the talkie bit at the end: “And then on the way home, it always seems like a good idea to go paddling in the fountain, and that’s because it IS a good idea.”)

From out of nowhere, several more security guards arrived and escorted us back past the cordon. I heard one of them chastising the guard who had let¬†us in: “They’re just a bunch of pissheads. One of them is dressed as a shit Elvis. Did you really think all thisis for a Shit Elvis¬†that’s playing here tomorrow night??”

Mate, if you’re reading this and lost your job as a result of that, I’m really sorry.

And so on to a bar in the proximity of Trafalgar Square, a bar which we found had a basement room which was hired out for private functions, and on this particular Saturday was being used for a wedding reception.  A basement room with a woefully under-staffed bar, which meant that many of the guests came upstairs to the regular bar, where we were, to get served.

Including the groom.

Now putting aside for a moment the reason why the groom is having to buy his own drinks at his own wedding reception, what this meant was that he clapped eyes on my brother. Still dressed as Elvis, albeit as slightly bedraggled Elvis.

“My wife…my new wife…loves Elvis….” the groom announced.

We all nodded in consent. His new wife was wise. He had chosen well. Elvis was pretty good.

“You know what would make her special day even more special?” the groom continued.

We all looked at our shoes. We knew where this was going.

“If Elvis sang at her wedding reception!”

Silence.

“Would you do that for us, on the happiest day of our lives…?”

I looked at my brother. There’s no way he’ll agree to this, I thought.

And then a look came over his face. A look that said: this is something to tell my grandchildren about. The sort of thing that one day my younger brother will write about on the blog he hasn’t even thought about starting to¬†write yet.

“Yes I will, Sir,” he said, appropriating the accent, “but I don’t know any Elvis songs all the way through.”

“That’s okay”, proffered Pete/Jeff/one of the other squaddies, “we’ll help you out.”

And so we were all ushered downstairs, to a very full room of wedding guests, who all stopped what they were doing as we walked in. Like that scene in “An American Werewolf in London” when they walk into The Slaughtered Lamb. That. This:

“Darling”, announced the groom, “fate brought us together, and fate has led this gentleman here tonight too!”

At which point, my brother, soaked to the skin in a white sequinned Elvis suit, wig drooping down so it was more like a centre parting than a quiff, broke into the opening lines of a song:

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Elvis Presley – Love Me Tender

And now imagine him stumbling over the words before the end of the second line, and his mates ploughing in to carry him to the end of the first verse, without the slightest whiff of a harmony being employed.

Except me. I had, I thought, wisely hung back from the group and therefore avoided any participation in the group “singing”.

Moving back upstairs, and separate from the group, and therefore vulnerable, like a gazelle picked off by a lioness, I was approached by a chap who asked if we were all in the forces.

I, in my drunken state, decided it was easier to say “Yes, we’re all in the RAF” than to try and explain that I had never been in any of the Forces, but that my acquantances were either in the RAF, just about to leave the RAF or had just left the RAF.

Big mistake.

The chap who has enquired, it transpired, had tried to get into the RAF, but failed, and he wanted to know a) why that might be (so we discussed his medical history), and b) as much technical detail about engines and wings and stuff (of which I know nothing) that I could muster in case he ever reapplied.

I managed twenty minutes of utter bullshit to this guy, only interupted by Pete/Jeff/one of the other squaddies butting in to tell my conversationalist friend what a guy I am and how if you got me started on the concept of¬†inverted wingry, I’d never stop. Cheers, guys.

We finally made it to Mayfair, the final square on the Monopoly board. All that was open was a restaurant, so we all piled in there and ordered a victory drink at 23:55.

By this point, I knew I was done, so after finishing my final drink in a Mayfair restaurant, I sloped off to hail a taxi. All of the other guys were staying in a hotel, but I had asked Hel if I could utilise her sofa-bed for the night.

I fell into the back of a black cab, and, having provided the name of the road Hel lived on, I also offered these wise words:

“And yes, I am really pissed, and no I’m not from round here, but if you take the long way to her house, I will know and I will run off without paying.”

He would have easily caught me if I tried.

The cab dropped me off outside Hel’s flat, but instead of just going in, I wandered off (after paying him, of course).

Forty-five minutes later, I rang Hel to ask her why her flat had moved to a place I couldn’t find. She came out to collect me, and will often tell me now – after we shared a flat together for four years and regularly got very drunk together – that she has never seen me that drunk before or since.

All your fault, Big Brother.

Which just leaves me to think of a tune which appropriately ties this all together, and I’ve thought of two.

Firstly, since we all doubtless slept exceedingly well that night, this, by a band I first listened to because my big brother regaled me with stories of a wild gig of theirs he went to, where one of the band members kept bashing his own head with a tea-tray as a means of percussion:

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The Pogues – Lullaby of London

…although perhaps, this is more appropriate:

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Terry Scott – My Brother

Happy 50th Birthday to my lovely, lovely brother. May all of your Formula Ones be slightly less tedious than the last.

More soon.

Which Reminds Me…

I was never all that enamoured with the whole “shoegaze” movement from the turn of the ’90s; bar Ride and Lush, I never heard anything by Slowdive, Chapterhouse, Revolver and the rest of the scene that floated my boat.

But having heard Slowdive’s comeback single, “Star Roving”,their first release in, I think, 22 years, I’m wondering if I rather missed out.

As you will know, I have a policy of not¬†posting links to mp3s of new or current songs, so instead here’s the video for “Star Roving”

If the rest of their new stuff is as great as that, I hope there’s not another 22 year gap between releases.

It’s been bugging me for a while just what that reminds me of, and then it came to me earlier today. This, by David Holmes, which I first heard when it was used in the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics:

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David Holmes – I See Wonders

I think it’s the vocal that leads me from one to the other; I’m assuming that the vocal on the Slowdive track is Neil Halstead, and wondered if perhaps he had loaned his dulcet tones to the David Holmes track, but other than my slightly wonky hearing, I can’t find any evidence to support this. It seems it’s Holmes himself warbling on¬†I See Wonders”.

Both vocals, it seems, owe quite a lot to this lot, and specifically to William Reid, who sings lead on this one, as opposed to the more-recognised (because he sang all of the singles…because he’s the lead singer….) sibling, Jim Reid:

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The Jesus & Mary Chain – Nine Million Rainy Days

More soon.