Acoustic Afternoons

Following on from yesterday’s birthday shenanigans, some more of The Jesus & Mary Chain, in a quieter mood than they can normally be found:

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The Jesus & Mary Chain – Taste of Cindy (Acoustic)

More soon. Maybe later today, we’ll see what sort of a state I’m in after the cricket.

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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 naïve 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:

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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 – and it was only men – looking 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.

 

The Chain #32

Is it Wednesday again already? Where did that week go?

Right, we’ve got the biggest number of suggestions to get through that we’ve ever had this week, and that’s without any from a couple of regular Chain Gangers, so there’s no time for pleasantries this week, bar a courteous “Hello!” (Also, I’m feeling a little under the weather today, so please excuse me if there are less attempts at jokes than usual this week…)

Still, the show must go on, and all that.

We signed off last week with “The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead” by XTC, inviting your usual wide-ranging nominations for tunes that link to it, and I can’t think of a batter way to kick things off this week than with one of The Beard’s suggestions:

“The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead was released in 1992. Also released in 1992 was the album Connected by Stereo MCs. That year they supported Happy Mondays on their Yes Please! tour. Yes Please! is a genuinely appalling album and one that appeared to mark the end of Shaun Ryder as a lyricist and a poet comparable to Yeats (in the mind of Anthony H. Wilson, anyway). That was until he came back with Black Grape and the single Reverend Black Grape a few years later.”

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Black Grape – Reverend Black Grape

Over to the Great Gog now:

“My first thought was that the XTC sleeve looked familiar, but I know that I didn’t buy ‘Peter Pumpkinhead’ as a single, only acquiring later on a compilation. A quick look through the vinyl singles revealed another XTC sleeve in that style for The Disappointed, which I presume was on the same album [it was, on “Nonsuch”]. This immediately brought to mind a couple of other singles I possess called Disappointed – one by Public Image Limited…”

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Public Image Ltd. – Disappointed

“…and the other by Electronic.”

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Electronic – Disappointed (Single Mix)

There’s also this, not a single, granted, but a B-Side of the 12″ of his second solo single, back when he was still good, and this containing one of my favourite self-deprecating couplets:

“This is the last song I will ever sing (Crowd noise: ‘Hooray!!’)

No, I’ve changed my mind again (Crowd Noise: “Awww…’)”

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Morrissey – Disappointed

Which leads us rather nicely on to the first suggestion from Badger of When You Can’t Remember Anything:

“Spud in ‘Bob the Builder’ famously is a scarecrow who has a pumpkin for a head. This brings us nicely to the Bob the Builder theme tune.”

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Bob the Builder – Can We Fix It?

Now, when I say the Morrissey song leads us nicely to Bob the Builder, it’s because Bob is of course voiced by actor Neil Morrissey, and not because anyone other than the aforementioned Spud has a head shaped like a pumpkin.

But whilst we’re still in Morrissey territory, here’s The Robster from Is This The Life?:

“Frank Sidebottom didn’t have a pumpkinhead, but it was the size of a pumpkin. His cover of Panic is always worth a spin, but as it’s that time of year, you may want to consider something from the Christmas Is Really Fantastic EP which came out 30 whole years ago! Blimey…”

Panic fits where we are at the moment, I think:

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The Sidebottoms – Panic

By the way, apologies for the absolute bobbins way that mp3 ends; I didn’t notice until earlier today that it cuts out mid-conversation between Frank and Little Frank, and, erm, frankly I haven’t had time to re-edit it.

Anyway, we seem to be in the middle of some pumpkin related shenanigans, so here to add to the mix is a couple of suggestions from SWC, also of When You Can’t Remember Anything:

“If you need a Pumpkin reference [as it happens, I thought we would, but we’ve done alright, ta!], then we could go towards ‘Pumpkin’ by Tricky…”

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 Tricky – Pumpkin

“…or perhaps,” SWC continues, “down the Smashing Pumpkins route and have some ‘Today’….”

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The Smashing Pumpkins – Today

And here’s another. Remember Kate Nash? You know, her with that really annoying voice that sounded like she was affecting an Essex accent, had a massive hit with “Foundations” a few years back? Yeh, you do. Well, anyway, here’s one of her follow-up singles:

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Kate Nash – Pumpkin Soup

I have no idea why that song is so named. I can’t help but suspect it’s one of those “Yesterday/Scrambled Eggs” scenarios, except she didn’t bother changing it.

Time for a big Chain Gang welcome to a new (I think…) contributor, and here with a couple of belters is Julian, the first of which is a double-linker, since it mentions not only pumpkins but also ballads:

“Murder Ballads by Nick Cave & The Bad Seedshas the song The Curse Of Millhaven, a line in which refers to two dog killers as ‘Stinky Bohoon and his friend with the pumpkin sized head’…”

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Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – The Curse Of Millhaven

I’m surprised there hasn’t been more suggestions for songs from this album linking to the Ballad theme, to be honest, but now we’re here, you may as well have another bash Julian:

“Also on the album was a great take on ‘Stagger Lee’ which leads one to The Clash with ‘Wrong ‘Em Boyo’, yet an other take on ‘Stack ‘o’ Lee’.”

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The Clash – Wrong ‘Em Boyo

Sorry, George, I had no idea he was going to do that, honest….

Anyway, since we seemed to have strayed into Ballad territory, we may as well have some more. Welcome, then, Charity Chic from Charity Chic Music:

“I shall redeem myself with my second thought – ‘The Ballad of El Goodo’ by Big Star.”

Yes, I know I haven’t posted his first suggestion yet, do I need to post the whole Dr Who, Timey-Wimey clip again? I’ll get to it. Besides, this now adds a whole element as to whether or not CC’s second suggestion really is going to be better than his first, don’t ya think?

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Big Star – The Ballad of el Goodo

Over to Rol of My Top Ten fame next:

“I remembered My Top Ten Ballads Of… which I did ages ago (I can’t be bothered looking for a link, I’m not after a cheap plug this week!) Ahead of the aforementioned Peter Pumpkinhead [and another one which will be along in a minute or two] was ‘The Ballad of Barry Allen’ by Jim’s Big Ego, which is about the fleet-footed superhero The Flash and, curiously enough, written and performed by Jim Infantino, the nephew of comic book artist Carmine Infantino who used to draw said superhero quite a lot back in the comics I read when I was a younger, more affluent person.”

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Jim’s Big Ego – The Ballad of Barry Allen

Over to Alyson from What’s It All About, Alfie?:

“I tend to submit only one suggestion per week as realise you must be pretty overloaded nowadays [yeh, a little, but I’ll survive!] …but three that came to mind immediately – if any of them seem worthy of including, or have a gag in them, take your pick.”

This, then was the third: “…Marianne Faithful, who tends to be remembered less for her music as for “other things” but there you go”:

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Marianne Faithfull – The Ballad Of Lucy Jordan

Gags? I have no idea what you mean. Nor do I have any idea what those “other things are” that you refer to.

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Oh, I see.

Moving swiftly on, here’s Martin from New Amusements, back for his second week of Chain Gangery:

“My first reaction was to pick up on the ballad, and go with ‘The Ballad of Tom Jones’, by Space and Cerys Matthews. However, much as I sometimes love Cerys, I felt determined to come up with a better song than this….”

You will, Martin, you will. But in the meantime:

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Space with Cerys Matthews – The Ballad Of Tom Jones

Back over to Rol, who’s still banging on about the Ballad Top 10 he did over at his place, but which he definitely isn’t after a cheap plug for, nosireebob. (It’s right here if you want to have a look. Needless to say, there’s some belters)

“At #2 was Martin’s Tom Jones.

But #1…

#1 was something really rather special.

‘The Ballad of the Kingsmen’ by Todd Snider. It’s Louie Louie-tastic.”

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Todd Snider – The Ballad of the Kingsmen

Remember earlier I edited Rol’s suggestion so as not to spoil a forthcoming “Ballad” link? Well, here’s the song in question, as suggested by babylotti:

“‘The Ballad of’ leads me immediately to The Bloodhound Gang’s ‘The Ballad of Chasey Lain’.”

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 The Bloodhound Gang – The Ballad Of Chasey Lain

babylotti continues: “The video (apart from having several ladies in a state of undress) is one of those ones which stops the song halfway through, which leads me onto my next suggestion, the magnificent Bizarre Love Triangle by New Order (You’re a real ‘up’ person..) surely the best song they ever wrote?”

I’m not arguing.

babylotti is right, The Bloodhound Gang video does stop halfway through (as their bass player wanders off stage, his eye caught by one of these ladies). I have watched it, so that you don’t have to, just to check the link is valid. You know, purely for research purposes. Seven times.

In case you’re not sure what babylotti is talking about re:Bizarre Love Triangle, this from wiki:

“The music video, which was released in November 1986, was directed by American artist Robert Longo. It prominently featured shots of a man and a woman in business suits flying through the air as though propelled by trampolines; this is based directly on Longo’s “Men in the Cities” series of lithographs. The video also features a black and white cut-scene where Jodi Long and E. Max Frye are arguing about reincarnation, in which Long emphatically declares “I don’t believe in reincarnation because I refuse to come back as a bug or as a rabbit!” Frye responds, “You know, you’re a real ‘up’ person,” before the song resumes.”

Probably easier if I just post the video, really:

Oh, and the song too:

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New Order – Bizarre Love Triangle

Some of you, and I won’t be asking for a show of hands, will perhaps not be familiar with Chasey Lain, so I’ll let babylotti wrap things up, as he seems to know who she is:

My last suggestion, as Chasey Lain is a porn star, I would like to suggest another porn star who went on to make a record (no, not Paris Hilton, though surely that would have made worst single of the week….), ‘Fallen Angel’ by Traci Lords”

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Traci Lords – Fallen Angel

Now, I know what song I would go to next, and thankfully, Rol knows it too:

“The link to Traci Lords…made me think of ‘Little Baby Nothing’ by the Manics which features Traci on guest vocals and also deals with the exploitation of women by the porn industry.”

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Manic Street Preachers – Little Baby Nothing

Now, a few moments ago, babylotti made reference to the Worst Record of the Week, and surprisingly, in a week where we’ve already mentioned Bob the Builder, there were very few of these this week. Few, but not none.

Step forwards SWC:

“The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead takes us to A recent poll in a magazine in which ‘More Than Words’ by impossibly awful hair bear band Xtreme was voted as the ‘worst ballad of all time’. This was a song that was my sisters first dance at her wedding and a song on a cassette that I once reversed my car over around 19 times.”

A small admin point here: I’m taking the link to be bands whose names start with an X? In which case, sorry to break the news, but they were called Extreme, not Xtreme. But, under the weather as I may be, Spurs have just managed to finally win a game in the Champions League (better late than never, eh?), so I’m feeling magnanimous and I’ll let it slide this time:

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Extreme – More Than Words

Actually, there’s another reason I’m posting that; remember that annoying ex-flatmate I mentioned last week? Genuinely, that was one of his favourite records.

Okay, time for a shift, or a time shift, maybe. Here’s Alex G from We Will Have Salad (I’m going to keep linking to your blog until you start writing stuff again by the way):

“From Wiltshire’s second most popular rock group to its first: “Stonehenge” by Spinal Tap, please.”

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Spinal Tap – Stonehenge

Of course, it’d be sacrilege for me to post that and not also post this:

 

And whilst we’re on out-dated sounding bands from the 70s, here’s a suggestion from George:

“Right. Worst record of the week. Here goes. Also from Swindon was Diana Dors, who was married to Alan Lake, leading to Emerson Lake and Palmer and a record I bought for a pound (and was described to me in the record shop as a terrible record, and they were right) Pictures At An Exhibition, and side 1 track 2 The Gnome. Complete and utter tripe.”

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Emerson Lake & Palmer – The Gnome

He’s got a point, hasn’t he, readers?

Okay, where next? We haven’t had any Peter links yet, have we? Let’s sort that out.

Selection number two from Alyson:

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The Art of Noise feat. Duane Eddy – Peter Gunn

Back to George next:

“I suggest The Shock Headed Peters and ‘I, Blood Brother Be’. Swiss Adam is a fan of that song too, he posted it once. The six and a half minute version please.”

No. Have the six minutes forty two second version instead:

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Shock Headed Peters – I, Bloodbrother Be (£4,000 Love Letter)

Over to Kuttowski from A Few Good Times in My Life. As you will see shortly – and this is my introducing yet another element of suspense – I have had to disqualify his first suggestion. Until the moment of that big reveal, though:

“Far back in time, when punk ruled my life for a bit I was addicted to Peter and the Test Tube Babies. Fast, mean and straight was the main things they gave me at these times. So I would like to suggest their ‘Banned From The Pubs’.”

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Peter and The Test Tube Babies – Banned From the Pubs

I’m not surprised they were banned from pubs. Test Tube Babies are way under age, even if they are accompanied by a consenting adult.

Time to head over to Muso Corner and see what some of our regulars have rustled up for us this week.

Here’s Martin again: “Andy Partridge of XTC was originally going to produce Blur’s ‘Modern Life Is Rubbish’ but, at the label’s insistence, was subbed, and Stephen Street was drafted in like an indie supply teacher. Cue career-redefining album and the salvation of the band. All of which is my excuse for pitching Colin Zeal by Blur, from ‘Modern Life’ …”

Well pitched sir. You’ll be on the creative team on The Apprentice in no time!

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Blur – Colin Zeal

And joining Martin in Muso Corner this week, it’s The Swede from Unthought of, though, somehow:

“‘Peter Pumpkinhead’ was produced by the late Gus Dudgeon, most famous for twiddling the knobs on many of Sir Reginald of Pinner’s greatest hits, though also among his credits are two albums by The Bonzo Dog Band (post Doo-Dah). From the second of these, ‘Tadpoles’, I’d like to suggest ‘Canyons of Your Mind’.”

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Bonzo Dog Band – Canyons of Your Mind

“(There’s a rather splendid TV performance of the song on YouTube if you’re looking for a video to post this week.)” The Swede rather helpfully suggests. Well, I wasn’t, but since I think the clip you’re referring to is actually where I know the song from, it would be churlish of me not to:

Back now to SWC, with “a proper suggestion”. And when he says, “a proper suggestion” he means “a proper suggestion”:

“If I remember this song correctly it had a dodgy reference in it to crucifixion – something about being nailed to a chunk of wood…?”

You do remember correctly; in fact it goes:

“Peter Pumpkinhead was too good
Had him nailed to a chunk of wood
He died grinning on live TV
Hanging there he looked a lot like you
And an awful lot like me!”

“So the obvious link to that is ‘Reverence’ by the Jesus and Mary Chain.”

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The Jesus & Mary Chain – Reverence

“I’m only hoping,” winds up SWC, “that the real link is nothing to do with Crash Test Dummies.”

I’m not sure I understand that reference. Still, with a bit of luck, someone will explain it to me soon enough.

Here’s Alex G again:

“‘The Ballad Of Peter Pumpkinhead’ was later a minor hit for Crash Test Dummies via the soundtrack of ‘Dumb and Dumber’ [Oh, I see! Thanks!]. So going with the link of “original recordings of songs subjected to ‘quirky’ cover versions on the Dumb and Dumber soundtrack”, I would like to suggest “Get Ready” by The Temptations.”

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The Temptations – Get Ready

Penned by Smokey Robinson when he was still called William, and covered by The Proclaimers of all people on the above named soundtrack, I think that may be my favourite record of the week. It’s certainly my “Best Dressed for a Single Sleeve” winner of the week.

Time for more Dumb and Dumber relayed madness from Rigid Digit of Stuff & Nonsense:

“As mentioned above, covered by Crash Test Dummies for the ‘Dumb and Dumber’ soundtrack, Crash Test Dummies are best known for going “Mmm!” a lot. That single was a huge seller (and after a while hugely annoying). The parent album (God Shuffled His Feet) is worth a listen, as is the follow-up single ‘Afternoons and Coffeespoons'”

Maybe time has dulled it’s ability to irritate, but I listened to “Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm” after you mentioned it, first time I’d heard it in years, and it wasn’t as bad as I recalled. It’s his voice that’s really annoying, I think. Still, I don’t know anything else by them, so let’s have a listen and see if he’s always like that:

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Crash Test Dummies – Afternoons & Coffeespoons

Nope still annoying.

Ok, time for some links to the band’s names, and here’s Alyson back for her third, which is actually her first, choice:

“The band ABC (another 3-letter one) with one of their early ’80s ‘Lexicon of Love’ tracks such as ‘Poison Arrow'”

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ABC – Poison Arrow

But there’s an elephant in the room here. And what do you need when there’s an elephant in the room? A Badger to expose it, that’s what:

“XTC is a quick way of spelling ecstasy which when shortened is just E which leads us to Ebenezer Goode by The Shamen.”

Anybody got any Vera’s? Lavely.

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The Shamen – Ebeneezer Goode

I’ve been a bit quiet on the suggestion front this week, so here’s a couple from me in a similar vein. Firstly, a song which is even less subtle than Ebenezer Goode as to the topic in question:

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E-Zee Possee – Everything Starts With an E

That was co-written by Boy George under the name Angela Dust (see what he did there?), and released on his More Protein label – who knew he was into drugs? Oh yeh, sorry, everybody.

And whilst we’re being all unsubtle, here’s The Beard:

“XTC, as already stated, sounds like ecstasy so…

E, Ecstasy
M, Motherfucker, motherfucker
F, From us to you

EMF (Live At The Bilson) by, erm, EMF.”

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EMF – E.M.F. (Live At The Bilson)

That was the B-side to their smash “Unbelievable” single, and I remember there being quite the furore in some of the red-tops when they flipped the record over and found out what EMF stands for. Other interesting facts: one of the band (Derry…?) used to have a party trick where he inserted a whole orange under his foreskin. That’s not the sort of party I ever want to be invited to, thank you very much.

Still, more fine E related skull-doggery is afoot, with this suggestion from Swiss Adam from Bagging Area, which wins my “Oh, Is That What That Tune’s Called!!” Award of the Week:

“XTC, as several people have pointed out, is also a name of a popular rave drug. It is chanted throughout Joey Beltram’s monstrously good Energy Flash.”

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Joey Beltram – Energy Flash

Next, and finally in this drug-fuelled frenzy, a bloody great record, given a bloody great remix, by the bloody great Basement Jaxx:

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Missy “Misdemeanour” Elliott – 4 My People (Basement Jaxx Remix)

Now, earlier on, I mentioned that I had to disqualify a suggestion by Kuttowski, this one to be precise:

“XTC were an art-rock band from Swindon and were much more as the average in these days. So it would great to listen to their Making Plans For Nigel once again.”

I don’t disagree, but here at The Chain we need a link to be more than just “X band also did X song”, the suggestion needs to be more than that.

But, I’ll tell you what, how about I give you a tune which has the music from “Making Plans” but something else over the top if it? I’m talking, of course, about one of them there “mash-ups”; as a whole I’m not a great fan of the genre – yes, they’re often very clever but equally often the producer over eggs it, assumes the listener needs it explaining, and includes the vocal from the backing track when it really isn’t required, spoiling it.

This is one of the better ones, mixing Tweet featuring Missy Elliott’s “Oops (Oh My)” with the aforementioned XTC tune. Give it a listen:

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Go Home Productions – Making Plans For Vinyl

And since we’re, sort of, on Nigel, here’s Julian back for another go:

“Nigel was going to work for British Steel, which of course leads one to Sheffield steel with which the knife in ‘This Is England’ by The Clash was made of.”

Phew! For a moment there, I thought you were going to suggest Judas Priest…

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The Clash – This Is England

You thought we’d finished with the pumpkin related tunes a while ago, didn’t you? Well, as it happens, we haven’t, I was saving a couple back.

Here’s George again:

“A pumpkin is a member of the squash family, and in the 1970s there was a squash player called Jonah Barrington (who stormed out of Superstars for some reason ,but I might be wrong there), and Barrington Levy is a reggae artist, so I suggest his diddly-diddly-wah-hoo song ‘Here I Come’.”

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Barrington Levy – Here I Come

Now that link got me thinking. Are pumpkins members of the squash family? A bit of research reveals this:

“Pumpkins, squash and gourds are members of the enormously diverse Cucurbitaceae family, which contains more than 100 genera and over 700 species.”

So, George, you’re close enough, suggestion allowed.

But wait…pumpkins, squash and gourds you say? Brace yourselves, I feel a couple of puns coming on, which are actually just an excuse for me to post two of the greatest records ever written:

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The Beach Boys – Gourd Only Knows

Somebody really should have checked the spelling on that sleeve before they released it.

And just in case you don’t get it:

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Teenage Fanclub – Gourd Knows It’s True (Peel Session)

Time to tie up one more loose end now, and it’s back to Charity Chic, who you will recall is due to post a record worse than Big Star’s “The Ballad of El Goodo”, which really shouldn’t prove too difficult:

“XTC to Andy Partridge to the Partridge Family to David Cassidy and Daydreamer.”

Nailed it.

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David Cassidy – Daydreamer

Since we’re on Partridges – and I know you’re expecting me to post a video clip to a bit of Alan Partridge, but I’m not going to -here’s something seasonal from The Great Gog:

“Now it’s December, there is a well-known song that features the word partridge rather a lot. My favourite version of this tune actually DOESN’T contain the word partridge, and despite many listens over the years, I do still find it mildly amusing – The Twelve Days Of Christmas by Bill Barclay.”

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Bill Barclay – 12 Days of Christmas

If you like that, you’ll like this too:

Ok then, to round things up, here’s a wee message from Andy Partridge himself, which I picked up on one of those “Late Night Tales” compilations a few years ago, this one compiled by Helmut, and it seems rather apt:

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Andy Partridge – History Of Rock And Roll

And that’s it for our suggestions this week. Here’s the next link in The Official Chain:

“Frank Zappa’s record label was called Barking Pumpkin, so…”

cover_564742611201032. Frank Zappa – Valley Girl

So, your suggestions please, via the Comments section below, for records that you can link, and explain the link in your suggestion, to Frank Zappa’s “Valley Girl”.

See you next week!

(I am contractually obliged to also write: More soon.)

The Chain #31

Okay, okay, I’m a little later than usual. My apologies. I seem to have developed some kind of Chain Tourette’s Syndrome this week, incapable of resisting posting an additional link or splurging out another suggestion. You’ll see.

Last week we ended with “Live Forever” by Oasis, and it’s fair to say the Mancunian siblings caused quite the difference in opinions between you, with some voicing “By and large and on the whole, all things considered… Oasis can piss off” and others “Can I start by saying that I bloody love Oasis?”

As usual, suggestions came from one of several broad categories, but where to start?

At the beginning, seems as good a place as any. Here’s Swiss Adam from Bagging Area to kick things off:

“Johnny Marr springs to mind (shared manager, guitar given by Johnny to Noel on which he wrote that song I think). Johnny Marr’s solo song ‘Upstarts’ from a couple of years ago was splendid, a comeback. And even though I don’t much like ’em, Oasis were upstarts for a while.”

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Johnny Marr – Upstarts

You can add the fact that Noel Gallagher joined Johnny on stage when I saw him at the Brixton Academy last year to that list of connections too, if you like.

Let’s use collaborations as the starting point to kick on with, and a second suggestion from Swiss Adam:

“Oasis recorded a song with another Johnny. Johnny Depp. Who was attached to Vanessa Paradis who had a hit with the strangely alright ‘Joe Le Taxi’.”

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Vanessa Paradis – Joe Le Taxi

Those of you who read the Comments section will know that prompted a big fat “Did they??” from Yours Truly. In fact, it turns out everyone’s favourite begrudgingly apologetic dog smuggler recorded with them twice, on “Fade In-Out” from “Be Here Now”, and on “Fade Away (Warchild Version)” from the 1995 “Help!” compilation album. In fact, anything with the word “Fade” in the title, and Depp was all over it like a tramp on chips.

He also, of course, plays guitar on this:

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Shane MacGowan & the Popes – That Woman’s Got Me Drinking

But I digress; back to Swiss Adam for his hat-trick of collaboration suggestions (even though his first one wasn’t really one):

“John Squire played with the Burnage numpties at Knebworth. And John Squire was in the Stone Roses without whom Oasis would never have existed. They could also never have written anything as trippy and light as Elephant Stone.”

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The Stone Roses – Elephant Stone

Continuing the theme, let’s shift from people who have played with Oasis, to acts that have featured one of the band (okay, let’s face it, Liam or Noel). Over to Badger from When You Can’t Remember Anything:

“Live Forever is considered by many as Liam’s greatest vocal recording. Although that’s harsh on ‘Little James’. Anyway Liam also contributes vocals to Echo and the Bunnymen’s wonderful comeback single ‘Nothing Lasts Forever’. The irony of that was probably lost in him.”

Wonderful is damning this record with faint praise; I often dread a band I love reforming and releasing their new material, but Echo & The Bunnymen proved the exception to the rule with this:

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Echo & The Bunnymen – Nothing Lasts Forever

And of course, with “Forever” in the title, we have a double-linker! We’ll come back to more with a similar (okay, identical) link later on.

The mere mention of Liam gives me the opportunity to post this, from the “Live Forever” Britpop documentary, my favourite ever interview clip involving him, where he is asked if he feels he has an androgynous quality about him:

Anyway, another suggestion from me, this time featuring the other one-eyebrowed wonder. Noel Gallagher teamed up with The Lemonheads’ Evan Dando to record – but never officially release (hence the absence of a proper sleeve and the somewhat shonky sound quality) – this:

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Noel Gallagher & Evan Dando – Purple Parallelogram

What? There were people in Oasis other than Liam and Noel you say? Over to Rigid Digit from Stuff and Nonsense:

“Oasis’ bass player Paul McGuigan co-authored (with Paolo Hewitt) a book called ‘The Greatest Footballer You Never Saw’ about ex Reading and Cardiff City player Robin Friday.

A picture of Robin Friday “flicking the V” at the Luton Town goalkeeper was used on the cover of the Super Furry Animals ‘The Man Don’t Give A F**k'”

He certainly was:

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Super Furry Animals – The Man Don’t Give A Fuck

And, since I’m going to see them next Friday at The Roundhouse perform not only their brilliant debut album “Fuzzy Logic” but also their even better follow-up album “Radiator”, here’s a bonus, a tune I’ve posted before, their epic 22:30 minute long live version from the Hammersmith Apollo, complete with Cian Ciaran’s techno wig out section:

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Super Furry Animals – The Man Don’t Give a Fuck (Live Hammersmith Apollo)

Before I start posting nothing but Super Furry Animals records, it’s time for The Beard to perform an intervention:

“Oasis’ touring keyboardist was Jay Darlington from Britpop no-marks Kula Shaker [Don’t worry folks, he’s not going there]. Their lead singer Crispin Mills was the son of actress Hayley Mills. She starred in the film ‘Tiger Bay’ (alongside, I think, Sir John Mills?) [Correct!]. ‘Tiger Bay’ is also the name of Saint Etienne’s third album. ‘Like A Motorway’ from this album, please.”

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Saint Etienne – Like A Motorway

As usual, competition has been hot this week to come up with the Worst Record of the Week, and here’s The Great Gog with the first, which not only links to the Gallagher brothers, but also to the football team mentioned in The Official Chain link which led us here:

“…the brothers Gallagher support a certain team who are still in the Champions League (sorry, couldn’t resist!)…[*cough* 2-0, 2nd October 2016]…so, the ditty supposedly sung by the early ’70’s City squad, “The Boys In Blue” – although I can’t imagine that the likes of Franny Lee would have been that good at holding a tune.”

No need to imagine, GG, here they are, and let’s just say Franny was no Ossie Ardiles, either on the pitch or in the studio:

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Manchester City FC – Boys in Blue

I’ll be honest, I only posted that so I could bring your attention to the song-writing credits, which will probably seem familiar to many of you. Yes, Godley, Crème and Gouldman – three fifths of 10cc. The muso-nerds amongst you will know that 10cc get their name from the average male ejaculate. 10cc formed in 1972, the same year as “Boys in Blue” was released. There’s a joke in there somewhere, but you don’t need me to do it, you can fill in the wanks blanks.

Anyway, back to you GG:

“Also, there is of course, “Blue Moon” – of which there have been many versions, but as an early contender for Worst Song Of The Week, I’ll plump for Showaddywaddy’s version.”

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Showaddywaddy – Blue Moon

You have to feel a bit sorry for Showaddywaddy, surely the most unintentional casualty of the whole Operation Yew tree thing, for who amongst us didn’t used  to enjoy saying their name in the voice of a certain, dead, disgraced, BBC DJ, TV presenter and paedophile? And now even that simple joy has been taken away from us. I bet Eric Bristow does that impression still. (See, I’m nothing if not topical!)

Something a little more straight forward and less contentious next: here’s Charity Chic from Charity Chic Music:

“Until I come up with something obscure I’ll go for an obvious one: ‘Midnight at the Oasis by Maria Mulduar’.”

As it happens, CC wasn’t the only one to suggest this record; step forward Kuttowski from A few good times in my life:

“The first thing that came on my mind was a song by Maria Muldaur. Midnight At The Oasis is one of these songs that accompanied me during the last decades. I really can’t explain why I can’t get this little folk/jazz tune out of my mind. Probably because it is just a good song.”

And here it is:

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Maria Muldaur – Midnight At The Oasis

Now, the more astute among you will have noticed a couple of references to Liam and Noel Gallagher so far. Here’s George to explain the link between these two fine gentlemen with the same surname:

“Oasis had the Gallagher brothers in them. And there are a plethora of bands that have brothers , so I will suggest Creedence Clearwater Revival (who featured two Fogertys) and ‘Born On The Bayou’.”

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Creedence Clearwater Revival – Born on the Bayou

Oooh- bands with siblings in them, can I play? Please pwetty please?

It seems to me that Scotland has more than its’ fair share of bloody marvellous musical talent, and quite a few music bloggers too, many of whom visit these pages, so this one’s for you, a much overlooked (until that bloody awful musical came out a few years ago; other than featuring the music of The Proclaimers, it has little to recommend it) and rather lovely tune:

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The Proclaimers – Sunshine on Leith

And, well, if we’re going to have one Scottish band with a couple of brothers called Reid, we’d better have the other one too (PS. Neil Reid was not one of them):

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The Jesus & Mary Chain – Cherry Came Too

Okay. Brace yourself. Here’s George with the winner of this week’s Worst Record of the Week award.

“Going from the Gallagher Brother to two sisters, those two in the Cheeky Girls (one of them married Lembit Opik) and, having consulted with my partner, their most famous song is called Cheeky Song, which I’ve just played. It’s rubbish.”

I do love the way that George always pretends not to know anything about his suggestions for Worst Record of The Week and tries to shift the blame over to his other half. We all know the truth, George, you’re fooling nobody.

Thank god neither of you have heard of Jedward, s’all I can say.

Oh, and a slight correction; Lembit Opik didn’t marry one of the Cheeky Girls, they were engaged but split up in 2008 after a “difficult period” in the relationship, which I think we can interpret as meaning “when he slept with the wrong sister”.

So, here’s what I’m sure will be the least clicked link of the week. I, on the other hand have had to listen to that more times when writing this blog than I had ever had the misfortune to hear it before (Twice).

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The Cheeky Girls – Cheeky Song (Touch My Bum)

Look! There’s a Christmas Remix!! If you’re all very good boys and girls, I’ll see if I can find that and post it nearer the 25th. I bet it has some sleigh bells and probably a joke about pulling a Christmas Cracker.

Let’s get out of here, and have some simple songs which link to the word “Live”, the word “Forever”, or some derivative of either.

Time, then, to give the customary very warm Chain Gang welcome to first time contributor Martin from New Amusements (is that a Gene reference I espy, Martin…?):

“I’m going with living forever… having tinkered with synonyms (eternal and immortal) and come to unsatisfactory dead ends (anything by, er, Eternal, and Immortals by Fall Out Boy), I have instead decided to opt for the words “Electric word, life. It means forever, and that’s a mighty long time.”

In other words, Let’s Go Crazy by Prince. Doubly fitting, as those Gallagher boys have been known to go crazy on the odd occasion…”

A classy suggestion, and just what the Doctor order after George let those pesky cheeky-ettes in:

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Prince & The Revolution – Let’s Go Crazy

Whilst we’re on lyrical references, here’s Alex G from We Will Have Salad:

“Oasis claim they’re gonna live forever. Irene Cara claimed likewise on “Fame”. To be fair to all involved, they’re not wrong *yet*.”

There’s still another month left of 2016, Alex. Plenty of time yet.

On the day or so before I write The Chain, I upload all of the songs onto a playlist on my iPod, and give them a listen as I commute to and from work, the idea being that a) I can check all of the mp3s sound okay, b) can get a rough idea of the running order, and c) hope I can think of something interesting or amusing to write about each tune. As I got to off the bus and walked to the office this morning, this tune came on:

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Irene Cara – Fame

I have to say, it put me in a really good mood for the start of the day. You should try it. The only disappointing thing about it was that when I got to the office, not one person was wearing a leotard or leggings, Doris wasn’t squawking “Hi Fidelity” by the water cooler, nor was Bruno attempting to play the photocopier like a piano. Still, can’t have everything.

Back, now, to The Great Gog, who before he started regaling us with Manchester City related awfulness, did actually suggest this:

“My first thought was to suggest another song with the words ‘live’ and ‘forever’ in the title: OMD – ‘(Forever) Live And Die’.”

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Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark – Forever Live and Die

Next, as Mark Morrison almost once said, it’s the Return of the Badger:

“But having gone down the forever route…other things can be forever as well. Like Polymers according to Future of the Left….”

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Future of the Left – Polymers Are Forever

“…and fucking if you listen to Babyshambles.” Which I don’t as a rule, but then I’ve listened to The Cheeky Girls twice, I may as well give Babyshambles a whirl:

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Babyshambles – Fuck Forever

Remember earlier we were talking about Oasis records that Johnny Depp had played on? Well here’s fun: that Warchild version of “Fade Away” also featured one time Pete Doherty muse Kate Moss giving it the full Linda McCartey on tambourine. What are the odds, eh?

Here’s George, who doesn’t seem even remotely apologetic for making me/us listen to The Cheeky Girls:

“…on the forever link, what about ‘Forever Came Today’ by Diana Ross and The Supremes?”

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Diana Ross & The Supremes – Forever Came Today

Time for some input from the fairer sex: here’s Alyson from What’s It All About, Alfie?:

“Ok so The Cheeky Girls song may get the prize for the worst record of the week [there’s no “may” about it, it does] but here is another contender. “Forever and Ever” by that hirsute Greek, Demis Roussos. I always thought Neil Diamond (my choice from last week) was a very hirsute man back in the day with all that exposed chest hair, but nothing on Mr Roussos. Come to think of it the Gallagher Brothers are quite hirsute in the eyebrow department, them having only one an’ all. A double-link and a pattern forming here for me relating to hairy men!”

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Demis Roussos – Forever and Ever

Next to return for a second, and indeed a third, suggestion is kuttowski:

“‘Live Forever’ is the name of a live album by Bob Marley from back in 1980. So I suggest Burnin’ and Lootin’”

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Bob Marley & The Wailers – Burnin’ and Lootin’

More from Kuttowski:

“‘Live Forever’ is the name of a documentary about the rise and fall of Brit Pop from the mid 90’s to their end. Pulp’s Common People with it’s wonderful lyrics became a signature to Brit Pop.”

Indeed, to my mind the anthem of Britpop, and a song kept from reaching Number One by Robson and Jerome, who also kept Oasis’s “Wonderwall” from the top slot.

Here’s the full length version from “Different Class”:

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Pulp – Common People

Time to hand over to Rol from My Top Ten for his musings of the week:

“First thought: Queen – Who Wants To Live Forever?

Which, if the question referred to the Oasis song, would lead to a resounding “Not me!” I appreciate that some people might feel the same about Queen, but quite frankly they would be, at best, misguided.”

I told you Oasis divided opinions, didn’t I?

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Queen – Who Wants To Live Forever

I’m not sure if it’s distasteful, ironic or entirely appropriate that this is posted just as we pass the 25th anniversary of Freddie Mercury’s death, but since I know Rol is a big fan of Queen (as opposed to a fan of big queens) I’ll go with the latter.

“‘Who Wants To Live Forever?’ comes from the soundtrack of the movie Highlander, which leads me naturally to a lovely early Billy Joel song called ‘Summer, Highland Falls.’ Hey, if we can show Neil Diamond love, Billy must get his too.”

A debate for another day, I think, but certainly one I’ll be backing you up on (up to a point):

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Billy Joel – Summer, Highland Falls

Now, amongst that, you mentioned Neil Diamond, didn’t you? Over to Charity Chic again:

“The by now obligatory Neil Diamond moment – ‘Forever in Blue Jeans'”:

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Neil Diamond – Forever in Blue Jeans

Phenomenal bit of work there, artist responsible for the design of the single sleeve.

“What’s next on the list?”

“Something called “Forever in Blue Jeans” by Neil Diamond. Any ideas?”

“How about we just stick his face on some denim?”

“Perfect. Fancy a pint?”

Now this song reminds me of someone, a former flatmate of mine and Hel’s. This was his favourite record by Diamond. I mean, it’s okay but it’s no “I Am…I Said”, is it? Hell, it’s not even “Cracklin’ Rosie” or “Beautiful Noise”. This is one of the perils of house-sharing these days; you can interview them as much as you like, but you never know what people are really like until they move in. This guy was priceless.

He survived on a diet of pizza and pasta on alternating days, then tried to take the piss out of me for eating liking foreign food because I was eating Mexican one evening. His idea of eating pasta was to boil some water, add pasta, drain then add nothing but tomato ketchup. Once, he realised he had put too much water in the saucepan, so decided to empty some out – into the kitchen bin, rather than into the sink. He would eat packets of crisps and just drop the empty packets on the floor. We once found a half devoured bag of Doritos next to the toilet. A toilet which he refused to lift the seat of when he peed, and which he refused to flush before he left to go to work (after we had) of a morning, leaving a gorgeous odour to greet the first person home. He made several unwelcome passes at Hel, and made up an entirely fictitious girlfriend who he claimed worked on a leading TV soap opera, even though we did know someone who worked on the same show who categorically told us the girl didn’t exist. Oh, and he did a runner from the house in the middle of the day when we were at work, leaving me and Hel to cover his share of the household bills, and I suspect, liberating a large chunk of my vinyl – including all of The Smiths original Rough Trade album releases – as he went.

All of which might just about be forgivable were it not for one thing: he liked Kasabian.

Every possible opportunity he had, he would bang on about how awesome they were, and when one of their albums, I forget which, the one where they try and sound like Oasis meets the Stones meets “Rocks”-era Primal Scream probably, like that narrows it down, was voted Album of the Year by Q magazine, he bought a copy (of the magazine), and kept leaving it around the house, open at the relevant page, like we were going to go “Oh, well if Q says it’s the Album of the Year….”

And if it wasn’t Kasabian, it was bloody Mumford & Sons. I rest my case.

I mention all of this now, because one day he burst into the house, breathless with excitement, gushing “Jez…Jez…have you heard of Longpigs? Best…Britpop band…ever!”

Now don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong with Longpigs first album, “The Sun is Often Out”. And they gave us Richard Hawley, so for that we are of course grateful In fact, I can’t believe I’ve never posted anything by him – I’ll rectify that over the weekend.

But best Britpop band ever? C’mon…

Anyway, that leads me, in a very roundabout way indeed, to what I think is their finest moment. For if you do Live Forever, then surely it could be said that you go on and on…

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Longpigs – On and On

Ahem. Where were we?

Ah yes, back to Rol, I think:

“Final thought, on the subject of living forever (unless I have another thought)…

Ryan Adams (no B) – ‘Note To Self: Don’t Die’ …would be good advice for any budding immortals.”

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Ryan Adams – Note to Self Don’t Die

Another inadvertent double-linker there, as Mr B-less Adams also once covered Oasis’s “Wonderwall”, as did this lot:

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The Mike Flowers Pops – Wonderwall

Remember when Worst Record of the Week used to be about posting the Cheesiest Record of the Week? Well, that would win, even if it’s deliberately so.

And, just take a look at that Radio 1 sticker that proudly adorns the front. It reads: “As First Heard on the Kevin Greening Show”. Surely I’m not alone in furrowing my brow and saying, “Sorry, who??” Perhaps his career was cut short precisely because it was his show that first played that.

Hang on, Rol’s thought of something else. Having convinced himself not to suggest something by Gallagher and Lyle, he came back with this:

“Oh, I just had a thought about the Gallagher & Lyle route that would lead to a semi-respectable song.

Gallagher & Lyle reminds me of Tate & Lyle.

Tate & Lyle make sugar.

So… Sugar – ‘If I Can’t Change Your Mind'”

“Semi-respectable”?? That’s a fine record, and no mistake:

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Sugar – If I Can’t Change Your Mind

“Please post the video so everyone can laugh at Bob Mould’s cardigan,” Rol concludes.

Okay, but I’m rather a partial to a nice cardy, so no sniggering:

Now, who haven’t we heard from yet? Ah yes, SWC from When You Can’t Remember Anything:

The B Side to ‘Live Forever’ was ‘Up in the Sky’ which is where according to Sugar you would find the City of Armenia.”

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Sugar – Armenia City in the Sky

…which is a cover of The Who track from “The Who Sell Out” of course. And Oasis covered The Who’s “My Generation” on their live album “Lord Don’t Slow Me Down”. This week, more than any, we seem to be going round in circles and finding additional links.

“Alternatively,” SWC continues, “the complete opposite of live forever would be dying young so we could have ‘All Die Young’ by much missed Smith Westerns.”

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Smith Westerns – All Die Young

Or, for that matter, this, from the second Blondie album I ever bought as a kid (after I got “Best of Blondie”, but before “Parallel Lines”):

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Blondie – Die Young Stay Pretty

And one more from SWC:

“Live Forever was apparently inspired by ‘Shine a Light’ by The Rolling Stones so we could have that.”

Sure could:

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The Rolling Stones – Shine a Light

Next up, its The Swede from Unthought of, though, somehow:

“I’ll make a simple jump from Oasis to fellow Creation recording artists Swervedriver – ‘Rave Down’ please!”

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Swervedriver – Rave Down

I had totally forgotten how good that is, like a cross between My Bloody Valentine and Doves.

Last suggestion of the week, and I’ve deliberately kept this one back til last. I’ll leave you in the capable hands of The Robster from Is This the Life? to wrap things up:

“Pre-Oasis, Noel Gallagher was a roadie for Inspiral Carpets. Post-Oasis, he formed the High Flying Birds. Therefore I offer ‘Flying Like A Bird’ from Inspiral Carpets’ self-titled comeback album from 2014. I’d also like to dedicate it to their drummer Craig Gill who passed away last week.”

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Inspiral Carpets – Flying Like a Bird

On which poignant note, all that is left for me to do is the admin bit. Here’s the link to the next record in The Official Chain, an underwhelming link as is so often the case, but a great record:

“Oasis used a leisure centre in Swindon as inspiration for their band name. Also from Swindon were…”

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31. XTC – The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead

You know the drill by now; your suggestions for records that link to “The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead” by XTC, along with a brief description as to how you got from one to the other, via the Comments section below.

See you next week, Chain Gang!

(More soon).

The Chain #21

Well, it seems to be Wednesday evening again, and that can only mean one thing: I must remember to put my bins out. Oh, and host this week’s edition of The Chain.

You’ll recall we ended last week with The Cure’s “In Between Days”, and I invited you good folks to come up with songs which you can link to that record. The aim is, of course, in no particular order a) to showboat a little in your logic and song selection; b) to pick something which will cause a little debate in the Comments, be it about how great or how awful your choice is (never forgetting that, here, there’s no such thing as a Guilty Pleasure, hence recent inclusions from Busted, Chesney Hawkes, and PJ & Duncan, and you’re not necessarily saying that you like your own suggestion anyway), and c) trying to guess what the next record in the official BBC The Chain series, as featured originally on Radcliffe & Maconie’s Radio 2 show, which now airs on 6 Music.

After last week’s attempts to jiggle about with the running order, which frankly left me dazed, confused, and worried that I’d missed somebody out, I’m settling for an easy life this week, and resorting back to the tried and tested method of simply posting the suggestions as they were received.

So, first out of the traps this week was Rol from the My Top Ten blog, who was noticeable in his absence last week:

“Because I missed last week’s I thought I’d get in early this week… but now I’m spoilt for choice?

The Go-Betweens?

Inbetweener by Sleeper?

Torn Between Two Lovers?

Between The Wars?

Between My Legs by Rufus W.?

Walk Between The Raindrops?

All tempting, but…

Ultrasound – Between Two Rivers, from their 2012 album Play For Today. It’s lovely, it starts with a nice bit of a brass, and they’re about to release their third album any day now.

That’s my suggestion for this week.”

Now, I normally have a bit of a moan about being snowed under with suggestions, about how I might have to cap the amount of suggestions per person (I hope you all note that I’ve still not enforced that rule) but since Rol had mentioned so many potential links, and as he hadn’t proffered anything last week, I figured I’d be magnanimous and ask if he wanted to nominate a second. But there was no swaying him. Fair enough.

Here’s Ultrasound then:

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Ultrasound – Between Two Rivers

Be terrible if any of those Rol elected not to formally submit as a suggestion turned out to be the right one, wouldn’t it? (That’s my way of injecting a little suspense into proceedings).

Next up, here’s The Great Gog:

“In between days comes night. For some reason at this point Steely Dan’s “Night By Night” sprang to mind, and that’s a bit of an ear-worm of mine, so the rest of you can have a listen, too.”

Thanks GG, will do!

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Steely Dan – Night By Night

The next couple of suggestions I received were from babylotti:

“I’m going to link to ‘Days’, by The Kinks.”

Now that, I would suggest, is the complete opposite of Comment Showboating.

So here’s a factoid to make up for it: when Days was originally released, both the single sleeve and record label referred to the title as being “Day’s”:

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The Kinks – Days

See?

But wait! I stand corrected! Babylotti isn’t done yet:

“Ray Davies from the Kinks famously was seeing Chrissie Hynde for most of the 80s. Chrissie obviously being the mainstay of The Pretenders and I shall nominate their song called Back on the Chain Gang…”

I can’t really resist posting that one, for what I would hope are fairly obvious reasons:

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The Pretenders – Back on the Chain Gang

See that? That’s our theme tune, that is.

Time to welcome back the Badger from When You Can’t Remember Anything now, who rather presciently says:

“Right this won’t be the answer but…”In Between Days” used to be my ringtone when Mrs B phoned me. About a month ago I replaced that with ‘Digeridoo’ by Aphex Twin.”

You’re not wrong, Badger: that’s not the right answer. But since my knowledge of Aphex Twin pretty much begins and ends with “Windowlicker” and “Come to Daddy” I’m more than happy to oblige:

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Aphex Twin – Digeridoo

Time was, having just posted a tune which predominantly features a didgeridoo, I’d be able to make a really bad “Can you tell what it is yet?” gag, but alas no more. That particular comedic avenue has ended up the same way as the Animal Hospital: closed.

“Or” Badger continues, “Robert Smith formed a Cure off shoot called The Glove. Which links back to Hand in Glove by The Smiths.”

Badger knows from previous posts that a very simple way to make sure I raise no objections to a suggestion – not that I ever would, unless there is absolutely no link back to the source record – is to nominate something by one of my favourite bands ever, about whom I would never make any crass comments.

So with that in mind, here’s a picture of a man’s arse:

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The Smiths – Hand In Glove

You know that saying about how you have to wait ages for certain things to turn up – buses, or policemen, say – and then two turn up at once? Well add to that list “writers of the When You Can’t Remember Anything blog”.

Or to put it another way, here’s SWC:

“The follow up single to In Between Days was Close to Me that featured on the album Head on the Door. The first two words of which is the name of a very fine Jesus & Mary Chain track.”

This perplexed me at first, as I wasn’t aware of any Mary Chain single called “Close To”. But then the penny dropped, and such was my embarrassment at my own stupidity that I’m not going to get all pedantic and point out the album’s called The Head On the Door. And anyway, this is the first time we’ve featured one of their songs here on The Chain, so I’m not going to begrudge it. I mean, the words “Head” and “On” are still there, right?

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The Jesus & Mary Chain – Head On

SWC isn’t done yet though. Oh no.

“Or if you want cheese. Lol Tolhurst was once in The Cure. Lol is an expression for laughing. As is LMFAO. And they are Sexy, and They Know It.”

sexy-and-i-know-it-single-1LMFAO – Sexy and I Know It

Often on The Chain, I have to go searching the corners of the internet to track down copies of some of the songs suggested. I wish this had been one of them. But no, tucked away in the darkest corner of my external hard-drive, there it nestled.

Let’s move on shall we? There’s nothing to see here.

Here’s George:

“Linking Cure to Medicine, and Medicine Head’s first single His Guiding Hand, a song that The Swede will surely approve of, and a song rated by John Peel as one of the finest songs ever recorded.”

Indeed he did; in 2005 there was a Channel 4 documentary entitled “John Peel’s Record Box”, which focussed on a small, private collection of 143 singles representing some of his personal favourites, which Peel stored in a private wooden box. (It should be noted at this point, that said box contained no records by his most beloved band, The Fall: he kept them in a separate box).

You can watch the whole documentary here:

Needless to say from George’s introduction, His Guiding Hand” was in there. As is Status Quo’s “Down Down”. Just sayin’.

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Medicine Head – His Guiding Hand

Since we’re on the matter of John Peel, many of you will be aware that we’re fast approaching October 25th, the anniversary of his death, and a day where all those musically interested souls who owe such a debt to Peel try do something to honour his legacy. If you’d like to keep abreast of what events are going on, I’d recommend you a) visit the excellent Keeping It Peel blog, and b) follow @keepingitpeel on Twitter.

Anyway, I digress. Here comes Charity Chic, who decides to dip into that list of potential songs which Rol gave us right at the start:

“As Rol correctly points out there could be a link to Between the Wars by Billy Bragg…”

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Billy Bragg – Between The Wars

“…Kirsty MacColl brilliantly covered Days which babylotti mentions above. She also covered Billy Bragg’s New England so that would be nice”

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Kirsty MacColl – A New England

And you lot have clearly caught me in a good mood this week, because here’s a little extra treat for you. Lifted from one of those Radio 1 Live Lounge things (I think, I can’t actually remember where I got this from), but which as far as I know has never been commercially released (hence the less than pristeen sound quality and absence of a proper sleeve) is Kirsty and Billy performing an acoustic version:

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Kirsty MacColl & Billy Bragg – A New England (acoustic)

Moving on, but not quite so swiftly as we did to escape LMFAO, here’s Swiss Adam from Bagging Area:

“The Cure’s Just Like Heaven was memorably covered by Dinosaur Jr. Whose own song “Freak Scene” is one of the best songs ever recorded.”

He’s right you know. It really is:

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Dinosaur Jr. – Freak Scene

Here’s Alyson from What’s It All About, Alfie? who is definitely not a spy:

“If you feel unwell you probably want to find a Cure so will head Down To The Doctors where he/she will make you Feel Good again. Yes it’s Dr Feelgood with Down At The Doctors from me this week.”

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 Dr. Feelgood – Down At The Doctors

Heads up, George is back:

“I have a chain involving Tottenham Hotspur…”

Regular readers will now they’re my team, and Badger’s too, so in a week when we lost our opening game in the Champions League and then lost our main striker for an as yet undetermined period of time through injury, I was a little reluctant to invite George to expand on this.

I need not have worried:

“OK. Robert Smith of The Cure to Tottenham Hotspur footballer (of the 1960/1 double team) Bobby Smith. Tottenham Hotspur play at White Hart Lane (or used to) (Still do, mostly – Sports Ed), and Clay Hart was a country singer whose most famous song begins with these awesome lines “In a broken down apartment house lay a woman in labour…said by the grace of god I’ll have this child with the help of a neighbour”! Spring, by Clay Hart. Only in country music do you get such fabulous lyrics.”

And that, dear readers, is how to do Comment Showboating:

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Clay Hart – Spring

And that just leaves us with one suggestion, and this week that comes from The Swede from Unthought of, though, somehow:

“For my suggestion this week I’m going down the knob-twiddling route once again. David M. Allen co-produced a string of Cure albums, including ‘The Head on the Door’ from which ‘In Between Days’ is taken. Among Allen’s many other production credits is my favourite (and a criminally overlooked) Psychedelic Furs LP, ‘Book of Days’, from which I’ll choose ‘Torch’.”

You can’t beat a bit of know-twiddling in my book (innuendo very much intended), and it’s the type of link that doesn’t appear often enough here.

Anyway, here’s The Psychedelic Furs

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The Psychedelic Furs – Torch

And that concludes all of your suggestions for another week and I’m afraid none of you guessed what the record was in The (official) Chain. But before I reveal all, here’s my two suggestions, and I went down the same route as Alyson and George (with his first suggestion) did, going from The Cure to another word for a cure being a remedy, which led first to this, where Keith and the boys have got not just the poison, but the remedy too, which is one of those Good News/Bad News scenarios:

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The Prodigy – Poison

…which in turn led me to…(don’t worry, I’m not about to go all “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” or “Unskinny Bop” on you. They can keep for another day)…this:

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The Black Crowes – Remedy

Literally not heard that in years, and bloody great it still sounds too.

And so, to the official record and Rol, you are going to kick yourself, as are you CC for picking out the wrong one from his list of semi-suggestions. For the next record in the BBC Chain was chosen following this suggestion:

“… From ‘In Between Days’ to ‘Inbetween-er’…”

Ah well, never mind chaps, eh?

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21. Sleeper – Inbetweener

And that’s that for another week. So please submit your suggestions for songs which you can link to “Inbetweener” by Sleeper, along with your reasoning for the connection, via the Comments section down below.

I’ve got one already, unless one of you lot go and nick it first.

See you next week!

(More soon).

Friday Night Music Club

Evening all.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, it can’t have escaped your attention that the Olympics start officially later tonight (if you count the opening ceremony as it starting) or tomorrow (if you count it as starting when the competitions actually do).

Of course, whichever opinion you subscribe to, you’re wrong, for the Olympic football tournament started two days ago, but since this is generally being ignored here in the UK as Team GB didn’t qualify (did we even try…? Couldn’t have been a more humiliating experience than Euro 2016 was, I guess), you can be forgiven for that.

Anyway, pack me a lunchbox and call me Linford, I’ve only gone and done us a Friday Night Olympic playlist. Try to contain your joy.

So here goes, 12 songs which are (very) (tenuously) linked to the Olympics. And no sign of that bloody Spandau Ballet record anywhere.

First up, no surprise that I’ve managed to crowbar this lot in:

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355. Super Furry Animals – (Drawing) Rings Around The World

Of course, the opening ceremony climaxes and the Games truly commence when the Olympic flame arrives at the stadium, transported in one of these (the song title, not the band):

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356. Soft Cell – Torch

The majority of the games involve a race of sorts (I think. I dunno. I haven’t checked). So here’s this lot:

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357. The Flaming Lips – Race For The Prize

Next, a song which is actually about a motor race, which means it isn’t a race that appears in the Olympics (I think. I dunno. I haven’t checked), but the theme is roughly the same. Plus, I’ve not heard it for ages:

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358. Cake – The Distance

The objective of any of the sports hosted at the Olympics is to win a medal, preferably a gold one, which is given to the winner:

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359. Shed Seven – Going For Gold

…or failing that, make do with second place, which earns you…

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360. Echo & The Bunnymen – Silver

…which is another way of saying….

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361. The Jesus & Mary Chain – Almost Gold

…which is still one better than coming third, and getting:

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362. Queens of the Stone Age – The Bronze

Mention the name “Queen” and one other band springs to mind, a band who famously had a song which actually mentions an actual Olympic sport, albeit somewhat colloquially, in the title. But I’m not playing Queen tonight; instead this rowdy lot:

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363. Be Your Own Pet – Bicycle Race

Straight on to the next one, which surely needs no explanation:

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364. Sugababes – Push The Button

Okay, maybe a little explanation.

In 2012, on the night of the opening ceremony, I was at a works party. The party had nothing to do with the Olympics, and was held in the beer garden of a local pub, whilst TV screens in the bar showed the opening proceedings. I have to admit, in the run up to the games, I was firmly in the “We’re going to make a right pig’s ear of this” camp, and had little to no intention of watching any of the games. However, the appointment of Danny Boyle, he of Trainspotting, Shallow Grave and Slumdog Millionaire fame, to direct the opening ceremony piqued my interest, and every time I went to the bar – which was often – I found myself watching the television, bordering on the entranced.

I got home later that night, found it on the BBC iPlayer, and watched it right through.

Sort of.

The next morning, I woke up on the sofa, my television on stand-by, and watched it again/properly. I hadn’t been mistaken. It was bloody amazing.

Soon after the Games finished, I bought a copy of the DVD box-set. The first disc contains the opening ceremony, the other two the highlights of the games. The first is possibly the most watched DVD that I own. The other two haven’t even been out of the box.

Why is this relevant? Well, the other night I had a text from Hel, asking if I’d watched the BBC documentary about the making of the ceremony. I hadn’t, and sat down to watch it the following night.

For the next couple of hours, I was transfixed, in exactly the same way as when I first watched the actual opening ceremony. The documentary, part of Alan Yentob’s “Imagine” series, contains behind the scenes footage, including the teaching of all the thousands of volunteers, some of whom had to learn to dance, others to drum; it has interviews not just with all the main creative players (Boyle himself, Underworld’s Rick Smith who was the musical director, etc. etc.) but also with several of the volunteers, some of whom have moving stories to tell about why they were there, and what happened to them on the night and as they trained for it. For example, in the “Saturday Night/Music” sequence, which tells the story of a boy and a girl meeting on a night out: I had assumed that both of them were trained actors/dancers. But no: both just normal kids, who’d volunteered to take part, and had been picked from the masses to play a major role in the event.

But there was one scene which stuck in my mind, filmed in the tunnel where the volunteers involved in the aforementioned sequence were waiting to enter the stadium. Out there, the Sugababes’ “Push The Button” is playing; in the tunnel, they are going mental, all bouncing up and down with excitement, singing along and cheering…it’s wonderful to behold. If you have chance to watch it, I urge you to do so. You won’t be disappointed.

So, that’s why the Sugababes are here. They’ve probably changed line-up about seven times since I started writing that, mind (obligatory Sugababes revolving line-up joke, there).

Back to a song which I don’t really think can be criticised for being included in a playlist on an Olympics theme:

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365. Gene – Olympian (Single Version)

That is just majestic.

And so to round things off, a song from my favourite album by this band (a controversial choice, I believe), which I dedicate to every athlete from every nation taking part. May you hear yours many times over the next few weeks.

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366. Radiohead – The National Anthem

More soon.