The Chain #51

“Just one week off, please, one week where nothing happens to get my goat, one week where I can post something nice and positive of a Saturday morning. That’s all I ask,” I wrote last week.

A tap on the shoulder from my alter ego.

“There’s always The Chain, which you moved to a Saturday morning…”

Ohhhh yes. Totally forgot about that!

And so I revisited the last post I did in The Chain, and find it was so long ago – December 2020 – that I had the audacity to mention Spurs winning a game of kickball, which hasn’t aged at all well.

So, let’s pick up where we left off all those months ago, with the next record in The Chain that I invited suggestions for. This record:

The Coasters – Charlie Brown

OK, so you can probably guess where most of the suggestions stem from, but we’ll start off with a suggestion by George (not of ASDA).

“Two members of The Coasters used to be in The Robins, who’s best song, and this will undoubtedly be the best song on the next Chain, was Smokey Joe’s Cafe. Which was written by Leiber and Stoller.”

Undoubtedly (we’ll see….):

The Robins – Smokey Joe’s Cafe

So, slightly obscure link dispensed with, let’s address the elephant in the room. There are at least two Charlie Browns, the one in the Coasters song of the same name, and the one that we’re probably all more familiar with, from the Peanuts cartoon.

So let’s kick off properly with songs which reference Charlie Brown, and I’ll hand over to Hal, who explains and suggests thusly: Thirty years ago (30 years FFS…) Jim Bob & Fruit Bat released 101 Damnations which featured…:

Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine – Good Grief Charlie Brown

Hal’s “FFS” is of course Young People Speak for “For Flip’s Sake” [Are you sure about this?- Ed], and is often used when one encounters an anniversary of an event considered to have occurred relatively recently, but which transpires to have actually been much earlier, thereby adding to our feelings of old age and past-it-ness. Don’t be fooled by Hal’s use of Young People Speak, for he is as old as we are, which is why he can conjure up such selections from hitherto forgotten bands such as Carter USM (as I believe the “kids” on “the” “street” refer to them these days, if they do at all).

Hal is to be celebrated for refusing to accept that thirty years have passed since that monumental occasion, oft referred to in history books, as the year of Our Lord 19 Hundred and Ninety, the year Carter USM released their debut album.

And he’s right to refuse to accept this, because as the album came out in January 1990, it’s actually 31 years now. Sorry, Hal!

Staying on the Charlie Brown link, here’s Swiss Adam from Bagging Area who not only suggests a song linked to our favourite wibble-mouthed cartoon character, he also introduces a much needed touch of class:

Echo and the Bunnymen’s Bring On The Dancing Horses covers Charlie Brown in its first 2 lines via Jimmy Brown and Charlie Clown…

Jimmy Brown Made Of Stone

Charlie Clown No Way Home

Echo & The Bunnymen – Bring On The Dancing Horses

But here’s Rigid Digit, dragging us back into Carter USM territory:

Carter USM’s Falling On A Bruise includes the line: “You win some and you lose some, you save nothing, nothing for a rainy day, You need your nutra-sweet daddy or some Peppermint Patty”

Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine – Falling on a Bruise

Perhaps I should explain. Charlie Brown, as well as being the hapless character in The Coasters records, shares his name with a character in a cartoon written by Shultz called Peanuts.

Cue the next suggestion from Rigid Digit:

Ok, maybe not that Peanuts…

…or this one, suggested by Phonic Pat:

Warmduscher – Disco Peanuts

…but within the cartoon strip known as Peanuts, there are many characters who do have their names crop up in songs. Peppermint Patty is one of them, and here she is again, courtesy of TheRobster:

And then there’s Nobody Speak by DJ Shadow & Run The Jewels which includes the line “I walk Charlie Brown, Peppermint Patty, Linus and Lucy / Put coke in the doobie roll moodies to smoke with Snoopy'”

DJ Shadow feat. Run The Jewels – Nobody Speak

Who else? Well, The Robster doesn’t stop there, trotting out a litany of characters:

Joni Mitchell – Woodstock

Lou Reed – Sally Can’t Dance

Incredibly, since they only made (if you’re feeling generous) two decent records ever, this lot appear for the second edition on the trot:

Hole – Violet

The Beatles – Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds

Thank you and good luck with your auditions, indeed.

The Royal Guardsmen – Snoopy vs. The Red Baron

There was also a band called Linus, continues TheRobster, but I don’t know much about them. Me neither, and I’m not going to do your research for you.

Another Peanuts character, picks up the Devonian, is Lucy Van Pelt, whose name was taken for a Japanese indiepop band, and then they had a trademark issue with whoever owned Peanuts after Charles Schultz died, so they changed it to Advantage Lucy instead. But from their days as Lucy Van Pelt, I’ll suggest:

Lucy Van Pelt – Hammock Waltz

Now when somebody describes a band as being “Japanese indiepop“, I had a pre-conceived idea of what they might sound like, but it was nothing like that. And that’s a good thing – my favourite “never heard of this lot before, must explore” record of the month.

And then there’s the eponymous Charlie Brown himself, or, as Phonic Pat deliberately mis-spells it to get it fit his next suggestion, Charly:

The Prodigy – Charly

Along with his already aired suggestion Rigid Digit also laid claim to some other records being linked, which weren’t (unless I were to allow pun-related tunes, which I might be minded to if we were a little short on the ground of suggestions, which we’re not), so I’m afraid Hang on Snoopy (because it’s Sloopy, not Snoopy) and Oasis’ Don’t Look Back in Anger (because he admits to making up that the line “And so Sally can wait” was written after Noel Gallagher had been watching an episode of Charlie Brown), are both disqualified.

However, nothing wrong with his two Brown suggestions, even if he does claim that they are both related to Charlie’s non-existent siblings:

Jim Croce – Bad, Bad Leroy Brown

and…

Frank Zappa – Bobby Brown Goes Down

Maybe Whitney would still be alive if that were true.

And here’s another Brown suggestion, courtesy of Phonic Pat:

The Pogues – A Pair Of Brown Eyes

Devonian is back, with this suggestion: As nobody’s said it yet, “Charlie Brown” is not the only hit song to make use of the hookline “Why’s everybody always pickin’ on me?”. There’s also

Bloodhound Gang – Why’s Everybody Always Pickin’ on Me?

I imagine nobody else had suggested that because of the “impression” of a disabled person at the start of it.

Fortuitously, here’s The Great Gog to save us: The phrase “Why’s Everybody Always Picking On Me?” that features in Charlie Brown also appears in this:

The Rainmakers – Let My People Go-Go

I bloody love that record.

Finally, says Phonic Pat, somewhat presumptuously, but I like this suggestion a lot, so I’ll let it slide, linking the trombone sound the adults make in the Peanuts films, how about a trombone take on the Pixies?

Alice Donut – Where Is My Mind

Over to Stevie from Charity Chic now, who has two suggestions for us:

Best Coast – Boyfriend

and:

Coast to Coast – (Do) The Hucklebuck

Although I get the impression he’s not proud of the second choice, as he signs off with the words “I’ll get my coat.” No need, Stevie, really: all of those rock’n’roll and doo-wop records of the late 70s and early 80s were my introduction to pop music, and I have a soft spot for them all, from Shakin’ Stevens to The Stray Cats, from Coast to Coast to Rocky Sharpe and The Replays.

What Stevie has inadvertently done there is lead us seamlessly into those suggestions which consider the Coast aspect of the source record, and here’s The Great Gog with another couple:

I also wonder what type of Coaster the band were named after. A mat on which one places a drink, a person that lives by the sea or a fairground ride? Assuming the latter, we could have:

The Jesus and Mary Chain – Rollercoaster

I personally wouldn’t, GG continues, but you may want to include:

Ronan Keating – Life Is A Rollercoaster

God, that’s nauseating. Let’s cleanse the palate, sharpish:

Red Hot Chili Peppers – Love Rollercoaster

and

Belle & Sebastian – The Rollercoaster Ride

Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking: Crikey, he’s been a bit quiet with his own suggestions this time. And you’d be right. Those last two were mine, and so are all of the rest left to go, all of which are Coast-related. To say I picked up on that and ran with it would be an understatement. So strap yourselves in, here we go:

Broken Social Scene – 7/4 (Shoreline)

Laura Cantrell – Queen of the Coast

Maximo Park – The Coast Is Always Changing

Midfield General – Coastnoise (Dave Clarke remix)

Blood Orange – Champagne Coast

If I was still giving out points, I’d have to consider giving myself one for that double coast link as a double pointer.

Now, some parts of the coast have a beach, some have other geographical characteristics. Where there’s a beach, they tend to fall into two general categories: ones made up of pebbles:

Pebbles – Girlfriend

or stones, if you prefer:

The Rolling Stones – The Under Assistant West Coast Promotion Man

Seriously, if I was still giving out points, I’d have to consider giving myself one for that Stones/coast link as a double pointer.

And the second type of beach, after pebbles/stones? Why, a sandy shore, of course!

Sandie Shaw – Long Live Love

And close to some coast lines, you’ll find the occasional Cliff:

Cliff Richard and The Young Ones – Living Doll

Now, earlier this week it would have been the comic genius Rik Mayall’s birthday, so indulge me for a minute will you?

Thank you.

Here’s the moment from the final episode of The Young Ones where it all goes utterly utterly wrong:

Here’s the video for the song:

And here’s the gang performing it live for Comic Relief:

And best of all, here’s the speech Rik gave when he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate. If you’ve never seen this before, I’d heartily recommend you take ten minutes to watch it:

All that leaves me to do is to announce the source record for next time’s edition, and to express some sympathy to The Robster, who picked the wrong version of the right song:

Matthews Southern Comfort – Woodstock

Suggestions via the Comments section below please!

More soon.

Friday Night Music Club

Once upon a time, in a galaxy far, far away, I used to write a series here called Friday Night Music Club.

Here is what I wrote way back in March 2015 to explain:

Friends of mine will tell you I love a themed mix tape or CD.

In my old flat, we used to have what we (ok, I) liked to call The Friday Night Music Club. This would involve us a) getting very drunk b) me shaving my head at some point c) listening to the latest CD mix I’d made (later, when I bought a sound system that allowed me to just plug my iPod in (other mp3 playing devices are available) these mixes got waaaay longer, and probably waaaaay more tedious for the listener) and d) ideally having a bit of a dance.

I’ve done mix tapes and CDs for friends and family all my life (but you already knew that, right?) but the idea here was to make a series of mix CDs which, when played in sequence, you could play at a house party and which would keep the night bubbling along nicely.

Actually, this is something I’d already tried a few years earlier. Friends of mine used to have the most excellent parties at their flat on Hilldrop Road, usually with a DJ playing, but on one occasion the DJ – and for that matter, their decks – couldn’t make it. In their absence I prepared a set of 11 CDs – about 15 hours – which, when played in sequence, took you from aperitifs and welcomers, to “go on have a bit of a dance”, through to off your nut party anthems, and then back down to sitting round talking nonsense about radishes until 6am.

Anyway, back to the Friday Night Music Club. Occasionally I’d make a theme out of the whole thing (hey, if Bob Dylan can do a radio show using the same format, I can do a mix CD, okay?) or do more than one CD and spread the theme out (there was once a 4 CD opus to a former flat mate which deserves a mention in passing) but more often than not the theme would occur to me in the middle of preparing it, and that’d be it…I’d be off….

As an aside, I appear to have missed some fairly significant landmarks in the history of this place: my first ever post was in September 2013, and if you think my posts are sporadic now, bear in mind that my second post didn’t happen until a year later in 2014. Whatever, a belated 5th anniversary to me!

Anyway, it was when I became rather fixated on the theme rather than with just posting some songs which sound good when played together that I knocked the Friday Night Music Club series on the head.

Since there are now more of us are spending our Friday Nights at home, many of us getting drunk, I figured I would bring the series back for at least a one-off for you to use as your sountrack to your Zoom/Houseparty chats. There might be more, I’ve not decided yet.

Also, this, right here what you’re reading now, is my 1500th post, so I’d like to mark at least one of my landmark posts in a timely manner.

Ahem.

That’s better.

I figured we’d go back to where it all began, to the first few episodes of Friday Night Music Club, but now with fewer attempts to be clever/funny and just more songs to rock your end of the working (from home) week/kids are in bed celebrations.

Actually, I’d hoped to bring this to you last weekend, in time for the Bank Holiday, but time simply caught up with me, the bastard.

The initial intention was simply to repost those early “mixes”, with a few new songs thrown in here and there (and some brutally culled). But as I was working on it, it metemporphasised into something different, perhaps better described as a completely new mix of tunes, very loosely hung on the framework of the old ones, in an effort to reinvigorate them, poncey as that may sound.

If you’d prefer to just listen to this on Spotify, you can do here:

Friday Night Music Club Vol. 1

…although a word of warning: Spotify doesn’t have all of the songs in the playlist, so the only real way to enjoy this in it’s full…erm…glory is by ploughing through the links below.

Oh, and a second word of warning: there’s a fair bit of effin’ and jeffin’ on some of these, so perhaps not for those with young ears.

Hopefully, there will be something for everyone in here (there’s seventy tunes in just over five hours, so I bloody hope so!), so push back the sofa, get yourself a pint of White Russian (or whatever your weapon of choice is), dim the lights and turn up the volume. Let there be grooves. Let there be guitars. Let there be cheese. Let there be some surprises, some forgotten tunes and some old favourites. Let there be singing. Let there be dancing.

Tell you what: I’ll play a song or two by way of a little intro whilst you’re getting yourself sorted:

Patience & Prudence – Tonight You Belong To Me

The Jesus & Mary Chain – Some Candy Talking

Richard Hawley – Tonight The Streets Are Ours

Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons – The Night

Lykke Li – Get Some

Richie Havens – Going Back To My Roots (Groove Armada Go North Remix)

Grace Jones – Pull Up To The Bumper

Roxy Music – Love Is The Drug

Earth Wind & Fire – Let’s Groove

Jackson Sisters – Miracles

Chic – Good Times (Full-Length Version)

Double Trouble & Rebel MC – Street Tuff (Scar Radio Mix)

Adventures Of Stevie V – Dirty Cash (Sold Out Mix Edit)

Skee-Lo – I Wish

De La Soul – Me, Myself and I

N.W.A. – Express Yourself

Public Enemy – Fight The Power

Clinton – People Power In The Disco Hour

Shed 7 – Disco Down

Los Campesinos! – You! Me! Dancing!

Cee Lo Green – Fuck You!

Janelle Monáe – Dance Apocalyptic

Taylor Swift – Shake It Off

Britney Spears – Toxic (Armand Van Helden Remix)

Girls Aloud – Something Kinda Ooooh

Icona Pop – I Love It [featuring Charli XCX]

Armand Van Helden – Koochy

Spandau Ballet – To Cut A Long Story Short

Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark – Enola Gay

Human League – Fascination

Archie Bronson Outfit – Dart For My Sweetheart

Stellastarr* – My Coco

Franz Ferdinand – Do You Want To

Gang of Four – I Found That Essence Rare

The Fall – Dead Beat Descendant

Maxïmo Park – Our Velocity

Sports Team – Here’s The Thing

Super Furry Animals – God! Show Me Magic

Elastica – Stutter

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – Spread Your Love

Sum 41 – In Too Deep

Good Charlotte – Girls & Boys

My Chemical Romance – Teenagers

Ramones – Beat on the Brat

Iggy Pop – The Passenger

Talking Heads – Girlfriend Is Better

Siouxsie & The Banshees – Hong Kong Garden

The Cult – She Sells Sanctuary

The Sisters of Mercy – This Corrosion

The Rapture – House of Jealous Lovers

Interpol – Mammoth (Erol Alkan Rework)

A Guy Called Gerald – Voodoo Ray (Original Mix)

Mory Kanté – Yeke Yeke (Hardfloor Mix)

Underworld – Cowgirl (Bedrock Mix)

Josh Wink – Higher State of Consciousness (Dex & Jonesey’s Higher Stated Mix)

The Stone Roses – Fools Gold

Flowered Up – Weekender

Happy Mondays – W.F.L. [Think About the Future]

The Charlatans – The Only One I Know

Inspiral Carpets – Find Out Why

The Doors – Touch Me

divinyls – I Touch Myself

Yazoo – Don’t Go

New Order – Bizarre Love Triangle

Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip – Thou Shalt Always Kill

Echo & The Bunnymen – Lips Like Sugar (Way Out West Remix Edit)

LCD Soundsytem – All My Friends

Indeep – Last Night a DJ Saved My Life

Primal Scream – Come Together (Terry Farley Remix)

The Bluetones – If…

More soon.

Cancelled

Round about now, I was supposed to be going to see The Jesus & Mary Chain perform their Darklands album at The Roundhouse. As you can see from the above, that ain’t happening now.

I’ve written about JAMC before, mainly in the context of me getting the hang of them via my older brother and his mates. It wasn’t until many years later that I finally got round to buying my own copy of their debut album Psychocandy, and when the Reid brothers reformed a few years ago it seemed appropriate for me and my brother to do the same, so I bought us both tickets to go see them perform that album.

But truth be told, whilst I know Psychocandy is the record to love, it was Darklands that really got me into the band. It was one of the first non-Smiths indie albums I bought, and pretty much every track got snaffled up to make an appearance on the sixth form mix-tapes I would religiously compile every other night.

This post was going to be a lot longer, but then in the wee small hours I noticed that Swiss Adam of Bagging Area fame was supposed to see them last night and had posted a virtual concert on Twitter (You can follow him @swissadam1 and why wouldn’t you?) and that rather took the wind out of my sails. Which I’m actually quite pleased about, as he did a far better job of it than I would have.

So, here’s my favourite non-single track from the album, which, when we were younger, my brother took great delight in telling me was “rude”, like I hadn’t worked it out for myself:

The Jesus & Mary Chain – Cherry Came Too

More soon.

50 Ways To Prove I’m Rubbish #21

Time for another band that I absolutely adore now, but back in 1985, when they were causing a proper stink by playing 15 minute long sets with their backs to the audience, around the time that their debut album came out, I absolutely hated them.

Often in this series, I struggle to pinpoint exactly what it was about a band or artist that I didn’t like then but do love now; often I can blame my blinkered “it’s got no guitars on it” viewpoint, but more often than not I have to shrug my shoulders and accept it was because…well…I’m a bit rubbish.

Today’s tune poses no such problems, however, as I can easily point to the exact reason I refused to like this band back in the mid-80s: sibling rivalry, which given that the band features two brothers is a tad on the ironic side.

My brother adored The Jesus & Mary Chain, but as far as I could see they were just two dour Scotsmen with a propensity for playing their guitars a bit too close to their amps and thereby generating a wall of unwelcome squealing feedback.

Talk about missing the point.

However, it was around this time that my brother and I, after years of fighting, and smashing anything we could get our hands on across each others’ back – snooker cues, violins (no one could accuse us of not being middle class) – started to decide we quite liked each other after all.

We went to the local pub one night, for his birthday – I think it was his 19th, which would make me 17 (shhh! don’t tell the landlord), and we came away at the end of the night, properly lubricated (ok, that sounds wrong…) and announcing that we had decided the other “was alright really.”

Shortly afterwards, I was commandeered by my brother and his mates Rob and Phil to join their pool team. I’m not sure how they had become the representatives of a pub in this respect, but somehow they had, and on the occasions when their normal fourth player wasn’t available, I was brought in.

In case you think I was a ringer, you’re sadly mistaken. I haven’t played in years, but back then I was pretty good. However, I don’t think I won a single game, and can recall with a shudder at least one game where I tried an outlandish shot only to accidentally pot the black and thus lose the game.

Anyway, roaring along the back roads around the villages we lived in (Rob and Phil lived in a different one to the two of us), heading to a nearby pub to shoot some pool, a compilation tape of all things goth would inevitably be played.

I should stress that none of us considered The Jesus & Mary Chain to be goths; however, their look – black drainpipe jeans, black winkle-picker shoes, black leather jackets, the occasional black and white spotted shirt, black shades – perfectly embodied the look my pool partners were rocking at the time. You can imagine the looks they all got when they turned up at a sleepy backwater pub, asked to be pointed in the direction of the pool table before announcing they were there to pot their balls, drink their beer and (totally fail) to seduce their women.

Those inter-pub crazy car journeys have stayed in my head ever since, partly because of the amount of times we nearly crashed, but mostly because it was then that I realised just how special The Jesus & Mary Chain were.

I didn’t buy myself a copy of Psychocandy until a few years later, but I did go out and buy the follow up album, Darklands, pretty much on the day of release.

For that reason, Darklands remains my J&MC album, but I have to admit that, great as it is, it’s nowhere near as magnificent as Psychocandy is.

So here’s one from that wonderful debut album; it’s one of my favourites but it’s a real short one that often gets overlooked in favour of the more famous tracks:

The Jesus & Mary Chain – Taste of Cindy

More soon.

Sunday Morning Coming Down

A bit of a rehash this morning.

I first posted all of the songs in today’s post back in 2015. It attracted zero comments at the time so I think I can get away with it.

So, first up is this, the opening track from their gorgeous She Hangs Brightly album, the gorgeousness due in no small part to the smouldering vocal of Hope Sandoval:

Mazzy Star – Halah

Is there a voice more perfectly gorgeous in the whole wide world than Hope Sandoval’s? I think not. If only there was a way I could contrast it with, say, a grizzly Glaswegian.

Oh wait, there is…

The Jesus & Mary Chain – Sometimes Always

(Sort of original) content alert: here’s J&MC and Hope performing that song on the David Letterman show. The quality is shonky to say the least, but it’s worth a watch, if for no other reason than the tongue-in-cheek conversation between Letterman and musical director Paul Shaffer:

Now I’ve always loved that record – in fact, I think that the album it’s from, Stoned & Dethroned is one of the most under-rated albums I’ve ever heard, let alone owned – but I have always thought Sometimes Always was, lyrically, just a rehash of this:

The Beautiful South – A Little Time

I await the tide of outraged comments with interest.

More soon.

Late Night Stargazing

They’re not exactly known for their acoustic, sensitive side, are The Jesus & Mary Chain.

No, they’re more renowned for fuzzy guitars, Phil Spector Wall of Sound meets Brian Wilson-esque melodies, all drenched in swathes of glorious squealing feedback. Or growling glam rock-inspired stomps.

But they do have a quieter side – they released a whole album of acousticy songs, the much under-rated Stoned and Dethroned.

This isn’t on that particular album, rather it’s the closing track on 1989’s Automatic album, and it’s one of my favourites, short and sweet:

The_Jesus_And_Mary_Chain-Automatic-Frontal

The Jesus & Mary Chain – Drop

More soon.

 

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:

the-sisters-of-mercy-alice-merciful-release

The Sisters of Mercy – Alice

R-369883-1357583169-5111_jpeg

The Jesus & Mary Chain – Taste of Cindy

R-392372-1363810588-4419_jpeg

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

the-pleasure-heads-dont-fake-it-molesworth-records

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:

R-189588-1165803100_jpeg

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 … erm … *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:

the-jesus-and-mary-chain-never-understand-blanco-y-negro

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.)