After declaring on here a couple of week’s ago that there would no longer be themes to these mixes, I found that on the first completion of this week’s mix, that’s exactly what I’d gone and done. You’ll probably guess from the first couple of tunes, and then another couple later on, this was going to one which featured nothing but pop records
So having painted myself into a bit of a corner, I had to U-turn faster than Liz Truss’ car in Autopilot mode; fortuitously, me dropping a load of pop songs from a mix and sticking a whole load more in their place doesn’t have the effect of crashing the economy. Again.
Because this week’s has been subject to several revisions, I’ve not had time to write any sleeve notes again. I’m sure you’ll learn to live with that.
So, here you go: 18 songs, 63 1/2 minutes of partly poppy fun:
I was watching an old football show the other day, and this tune came up as being the incidental music played in the background behind the Goal of the Month award, and I thought: I’m having that for Monday morning.
It’s a curious phrase, so I thought I’d go all Gyles Brandreth on you and find out where it originates from. And I found this, from The Phrase Finder:
“…There’s not enough evidence to be 100% certain of the origin of the phrase ‘the life of Riley’ but it is probable that it derives from the life of a real person – Willy Reilly of Sligo, Ireland…The phrase came into common usage around the time of WWI. The first printed citation of ‘the life of Riley’ (with the easy/carefree meaning of the phrase) that I have found is from New Jersey newspaper The News, May 1910
Quotation marks are usually added to phrases that the readership might be unfamiliar with. There are none in the above citation so it’s reasonable to suggest that ‘the life of Riley’ was known to the New Jersey populace in 1910.
It might seem strange that this expression originated in the USA rather than Ireland. However, there were probably more Rileys in New York then in Dublin at that date. Many of these would have migrated to look for a better life in America and some of them would have found it – and hence lived the life of Riley.
The phrase was much used in the military, especially in WWI. The first known citation in that context is in a letter from a Sergeant Leonard A. Monzert of the American Expeditionary Forces ‘somewhere in France’, an extract of which was published in The Brooklyn Daily Eagle on 26th May 1918. In the letter Monzert wrote that he and his pals were ‘living the life of Reilly’.
Other similar letters from US servicemen claimed to have been living the life of Reilly while at war in France. How much truth there was in the letters and how much was propaganda to reassure the folks back home isn’t clear. With hindsight we can be sure that any soldier’s life during the First World War was no picnic.
There had been various Victorian music hall songs that had referred to a Reilly who had a comfortable and prosperous life; for example, there’s the 1883 song, popularised by the Irish/American singer Pat Rooney – Is That Mr. Reilly? It included in the chorus “Is that Mr. Reilly, of whom they speak so highly?”. Like most other Irish songs of the era, it played to the Irish audience – this one with a dash of anti-Chinese racism thrown in for luck (the Chinese were ‘Reilly’s’ principal competitors for manual work in the USA at the time):
I’ll have nothing but Irishman on the police Patrick’s Day will be the fourth of July; I’ll get me a thousand infernal machines, To teach the Chinese how to die,
Another Irish/American singer, George Gaskin, was popular in New York around the same time. He was called ‘The Silver-Voiced Irish Tenor”, although audiences must have been rather forgiving in those days, as surviving recordings of him sound like a knife being drawn across a plate. His 1897 song, The Best in the House is None Too Good for Reilly, elaborated on the whimsical idea of a wealthy Irishman being treated lavishly:
He’s money for to pay, So they let him have his way, The best in the house is none too good for Reilly.
So, while the idea of a notional Irishman living the high life was current in late 19th century Ireland and America, the phrase ‘the life of Riley’ isn’t found until the early 20th century.
The source of the expression ‘the life of Riley’ has been the subject of much etymological research, which had pretty much drawn a blank until the miracle of modern-day searchable databases came to the rescue.
A scan of a copy of the newspaper the Dublin Weekly Nation, Saturday 14 October 1899 shows that Reiley (and as it turns out it is Reilly, not Riley) was the hero of a popular folk ballad, living exactly the life that would lead to the coining of the phrase we have been seeking.
The lyric of the ballad is preceded by a reminiscence of the Irish nationalist politician Sir Charles Duffy:
Willy Reilly, says Sir Charles Duffy, was the first ballad I ever heard recited, and it made a painfully vivid impression on my mind. I have never forgotten the smallest incident of it. The story on which it founded happened some sixty years ago; and, as the lover was a young Catholic farmer, and the lady’s family of high Orange principles, it got a party character, which, no doubt, contributed its great populanty.
If we believe Duffy’s account that Willy Reilly was a living, breathing 1820s Irishman, then we have our man.
Duffy goes on to indicate the widespread knowledge of the song in the north of the island of Ireland:
“There is no family under the rank of gentry in the inland counties of Ulster where it is not familiarly known. Nurses and semptresses [seamstresses], the honorary guardians of national songs and legends, have taken it into special favour, and preserved its popularity.”
Here’s the ballad, as printed in 1899, which recounts the story of Willy Reilly running away with his hieress lover only to be caught and tried for abduction, eventually finding freedom and riches in his lover’s arms – truly the life of Reilly:
[Note: ‘Coolen bawn’ is an Anglised version of ‘Caillin ban’, meaning ‘young, white girl’. The original ‘ban’ would make sense in the rhyming scheme, which rhymes it with ‘land’, ‘band’ etc.]
“Oh! rise up, Willy Reilly, and come along with me, I mean to go with you and leave this counterie, To leave my father’s dwelling, his houses and free land;” And away goes Willy Reilly and his dear Coolen Bawn.
They go by hills and mountains, and by yon lonesome plain, Through shady groves and valleys all dangers to refrain; But her father followed after with a well-arm’d band, And taken was poor Reilly and his dear Coolen Bawn.
It’s home then she was taken, and in her closet bound. Poor Reilly all in Sligo jail lay on the stony ground, ‘Til at the bar of justice before the Judge he’d stand. For nothing but the stealing of his dear Coolen Bawn.
“Now the cold, cold iron hands and feat are bound. I’m handcuffed like a murderer, and tied unto the ground. But all the toil and slavery I’m willing for to stand, Still hoping to succoured by my dear Coolen Bawn.”
The jailor’s son to Reilly goes, and thus to him did say, “Oh! get up, Willy Reilly, you must appear this day. For great Squire Foillard’s anger you never can withstand, I’m afeared you’ll suffer sorely for your dear Coolen Bawn.”
“This the news, young Reilly, that last night I did hear, The lady’s oath will hang you or else will set you clear;” “If that be so” says Reilly, “her pleasure I will stand, Still hoping to be succoured by my dear Coolen Bawn.”
Now Willy’s drest from top to toe all a suit of green, His hair hangs o’er his shoulders most glorious to seen; He’s tall and straight, and comely as any could found, He’s fit for Foillard’s daughter, was she heiress to a crown.
The Judge he said, “This lady being in her tender youth, If Reilly has deluded her she will declare the truth;” Then, like a moving beauty bright, before him she did stand, “You’re welcome there, my heart’s delight and dear Coolcn Bawn.”
“Oh, gentlemen.” Squire Foillard said, “with pity look on me, This villain came amongst us to disgrace our family, And by his base contrivance this villainy was planned, If I don’t get satisfaction I’ll quit this Irish land.”
The lady with a tear began, and thus replied she, “The fault is none of Reilly’s, the blame lies all on me, I forced him for to leave his place and come along with me, I loved him out of measure, which wrought our destiny.”
Out bespoke the noble Fox, the table he stood by, “Oh, gentlemen, consider on this extremity; To hang a man for love is a murder you may see, So spare the life of Reilly, let him leave this counterie.”
“Good, my lord, he stole from her her diamonds, Gold watch and silver buckles, and many precious things, Which cost me in bright guineas more than five hundred pounds, I’ll have the life of Reilly should it cost ten thousand pounds.”
“Good, my lord, I gave them a token of true love, And when we are a parting I will them all remove. If you have got them Reilly, pray send them home to me.” “I will my loving lady, with many thanks to thee.”
“There is a ring among them I allow yourself to wear, With thirty locket diamonds well set in silver fair, And as a true-love token wear it on your right hand, That you’ll think on my poor broken heart when you’re in foreign lands.”
Then out spoke noble Fox, “You may let the prisoner go, The lady’s oath has cleared him, as the Jury all may know She has released her own true love, she has renewed his name, May her honour bright gain high estate, and her offspring rise to fame.”
“This is clearly a romanticised ballad and there are several variants of it, so we need to proceed with caution. In favour of it being a true account of real events, there was a wealthy Protestant Ffolliott family living in Sligo at the end of the 18th century and also a Luke Fox, who was a magistrate in the area at that time. There are also historical accounts of a minor landowner called Reilly, living nearby in county Sligo, who set his sights romantically on Helen Ffolliott, the daughter of the house and who was tried in the manner the song suggests. So, there’s good circumstantial evidence that the major characters referred to in the ballad were real people.
Counting against the veracity of the story is the fuzziness of the date and location. The details of the story, and of the ballad, appear in several variants. Duffy’s account for instance places Reilly as living in the 1820s, not the late 18th century.
Nevertheless, the thrust of the tale is consistent amongst the versions of it, that is, Reilly wooing/abducting Ms Ffolliott and later being united with her and her wealth and contentedly raising a family together. Some variation of the retelling of a romantic folk tale is to be expected (in Ireland more than in most places) and, all things considered I would say that the best contender we have as being first person to live ‘the life of Reilly’ was Willy Reilly of Sligo, Ireland.”
All of which is waaaay too much to take in on a Monday morning, so maybe just listen to this:
I know I have often moaned in the past about how time-consuming it is to write The Chain, but this morning, at around 2am, having put off writing it every day this week, it suddenly occured to me that there are three reasons why it takes me so long:
1. You won’t be surprised to learn that I don’t own every record that gets suggested, so I have to track down a copy to post here. I quite enjoy this aspect, as it goes;
2. As I’m going through all of your suggestions, I put all the songs on a playlist so I can familiarise myself with them, and hopefully come up with either some decent jokes (I’ll let you be the judge of how succcesful I am with that) and/or some funny video clips to include in the post. This latter aspect, as I’m sure you can imagine, often leads me down a YouTube rabbithole. That said, I quite enjoy this aspect too;
3. For practically every song you suggest, I manage to think of at least one more to link to either the source record, or your suggestion. That’s not meant to sound like a boast, more a statement of fact: people who write music-based blogs tend to know quite a lot of records. I try to exert some kind of control over the amount of my own suggestions I include but sometimes I just can’t resist. I really like this aspect as well.
So next time I moan about what a pain it is to write The Chain, ignore me. Once I get going on it, I bloody love it.
As can be seen by the amount of suggestions I’ve made this time.
And that’s despite the source record being, in my opinion, one of the worst singles by – well, I’m not going to say the worst bands, not when Black Eyed Peas and Coldplay are both things – but certainly by a band that I don’t much care for.
In case you’ve forgotten, said source record this time around was this:
As usual, the suggestions can be split into categories, one for each word: ‘U2’, ‘Beautiful’ and ‘Day’, with a few tangents thrown in for good measure.
We’ll save the vitriol of links to U2 for later I think, so let’s start with a suggestion from PhonicPat:
“[Beautiful Day] is from their ‘All That You Can’t Leave Behind” album which leads nicely to…:”
Over to C from Sun Dried Sparrows to kick off all the nominations linked to the word ‘Day’ and complete the cleansing of the palate:
“I think ‘keeping it simple’ will be my mantra from now on, so… Beautiful Day takes me to beautiful Days. I’ve just been through your back pages and I couldn’t see Kirsty MacColl’s sublime cover version appearing here before, so can we have that one please?”
Next up is a clutch of suggestions/songs mentioned in passing – which you all know I can’t resist – from Kay. For those of you who don’t know, Kay is my manager at work, but also a friend. She, too, wants to keep things simple:
“I’m a simple soul [I’m saying nothing – Ed], so I immediately started thinking of songs about a particular day of the week. First thought was…”:
“…then remembered [Look out, folks, she’s off. Experience tells me to get comfy and look like you’re paying attention – Ed] Foals had a song called Sunday, and I thought I would choose that, so you’d have to post it (much to your disgust)…”
Allow me to explain that “much to your disgust” comment: I’m not a Foals fan. I don’t dislike them either, to be honest. I just find them a bit “meh”. I don’t understand why anyone would want to pay money to go and see them, unless they need to pick up a new Yasser Arafat-type scarf from the merchandise stall, that is.
Anyway, carry on.
“…but then thought neither a Monday or a Sunday is a beautiful day. So I’m going for…”
That’s all the ‘Day’ suggestions, and before we move let’s move on to the “Beautiful” links, a suggestion which covers both, and I’ll hand you over to The Robster from on/off/on-again/no-he’s-definitely-gone-this-time Is This The Life?
“Beautiful Day was used by ITV for their ill-fated coverage of The Premiership back in, erm, I don’t remember. Quite a few years ago. The song I always associate with football on TV is Life Of Riley by the Lightning Seeds which Match Of The Day used for its Goal Of The Month feature.”
Ill-fated it certainly was, for two reasons: firstly, given an alternative, I don’t know anyone who would elect to watch football on ITV, and secondly, tactical analysis was provided by former professional footballer Andy Townsend, not from the comfort of a warm studio, but from what was know as The Tactics Truck, for no other reason, it seemed, than alliteration.
Whilst we’re on the subject of football, here’s PhonicPat with a couple of suggestions which I’ll allow, even though they link to The Robster’s suggestion more than to the source record:
“Late to the party this time around and some of my thoughts already reflected in the comments [but I haven’t got to them yet in this post, in case you were wondering – Ed]…More footy with…”:
“…and one more football song:”
Sorry, Pat. I can’t say I enjoyed that one. Worst Record of the Week, in my book.
Now we’ll move on to just plain Beautiful, words often used to describe Swiss Adam from Bagging Area, I’m sure:
“There are lots of songs that link to beautiful – Peaking Lights’ Beautiful Dub has the double pleasure of the word in its title and being beautiful to listen to.”
There’s a little snatch (and no, I don’t mean Bono) of the melody of that, such as it is, which reminds me of Una Paloma Blanca by Jonathan King, but since I’ve banned Morrissey’s solo records from the blog because of his extremist views, I guess I should extend that to convicted paedophiles too. So instead, here’s the George Baker Selection with the titularly-truncated (presumably Ms Stubbs complained) Paloma Blanca:
Personally, whenever I hear the name U2, I want to rebel against it, and listen to the complete opposite. So, like a typically confusing clue on 70s game show 3-2-1…
…here we go: The clue mentions the complete opposite and the the opposite of U could be Me or it could be We; the opposite of the opposite of 2 is the number immediately adjacent to it, so it could be 1 or it could be 3; if you want to rebel against something then you want to bring about change, and perhaps the most famous rebels were the French Resistance…so the next suggestion is of course:
I mean, really I should be awarding myself some points for Showboat of the Week. Not that I can be bothered awarding points anymore. Nobody really cares about them, do they?
Here’s Martin again with another song which sort of links to the band’s name:
“Finally I want to mention ‘U Talk 2 Much’ by Sultans of Ping FC, not least for its U2-referencing sleeve art”:
Which takes me back to PhonicPat, and an alternative Sultans of Ping FC tune, suggested “…for the footy link”:
Do you remember when U2 graciously and modestly decided that everyone with iTunes should be blessed with a free copy of their 2014 Songs of Innocence album, whether they wanted it or not? Well, that leads me here:
Time to go off on some (non-football) tangents, I think, and so here’s Alyson from What’s It All About?:
“U-2 is a kind of plane and another plane become the inspiration for a song by OMD, so I’m going for Enola Gay, which very scarily was a big hit for them in 1980, 40 years ago now. The awful event addressed in the song, the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, happened only 35 years prior to that. Is it just me or is time running away with us as we get older?”
And follow that up with an equally warm hand on his entrance for Stevo Kifaru, who, for a first-time Chain Ganger has certainly got the hang of naming a load of records knowing full-well I won’t be able to resist posting them all:
“U2 were named after an American spy plane, the Lockheed U-2, so I’m going with the theme of Spies for a second. My initial thought was…:”
Pop the handbrake on for a moment and hide the jacket potatoes, I have (yes, yet another) suggestion:
….which I’m sure you’ll agree is the very best of the mixes, right Chums?
It turns out Stevo is quite the Chatty Cathy (a bit rich, coming from me, granted), for he continues:
“I also thought U2 reminded me of the nomenclature of German submarines, always beginning with a U, & that brought me to Das Boot. Many years ago my friend randomly asked me, what was the number of the sub in Das Boot? I thought for a second & said U96. I have felt like such a nerd since that day, my friend obviously grateful that I answered his question, but the look he gave me was one of shock at my depths of geekness….In reality I just remembered the techno remix of the theme tune that was released under the name of U96….”:
In the interest of balance, perhaps I should point out that Bono at least seems to be vaguely self-aware and have a sense of humour about how many people view him, even if that sense of humour has been written by somebody else:
“U2 to Stiff Little Fingers to Grandmaster Flash and back to U2 in 3 moves:
There is a story that Adam Clayton says the bass line for U2’s ‘With Or Without You’ is basically Stiff Little Fingers’ ‘Alternative Ulster’ slowed down.”
Now. I know you haven’t suggested it, and I wouldn’t ordinarily post a second song by the source artist (especially when it’s U-Sodding-2), but I don’t think I can let that slide without investigating. So here’s both of those records, to allow us to compare and contrast:
Hmm. I suppose he may have a point. But it’s not exactly the most complicated bass-line in the world is it?
“SLFs 1997 album Tinderbox,” Rigid gamely continues, undeterred, “contains a cover version of ‘The Message’, which includes the lyric: “Don’t push me cos I’m close to the Edge”
So, here’s both the cover and the original. I do like a bit of SLF, but I know which of these I prefer:
Sounds a bit Walk This Way, only not as good to me, no? Imagine the Run DMC boys hadn’t turned up at the studio and so Aerosmith recorded their part too.
Where were we? Ah yes: Grandmaster Flash:
Of course, any mention of The Edge being close to the edge means that I’m contractually obliged to share this clip:
Last ones before we find out what the next record in The actual Chain is, and I’ll hand over to The Great Gog to bring things to a thrilling climax as only he can:
“The phrase ‘close to the edge’ has already been mentioned. Of course Bono and the other two are close to The Edge when they play live. Close To The Edge was also an album recorded by Yes in 1972. Later versions of this album include a cover of the Paul Simon-penned America, also recorded in the same year.”
Now, I’m no Yes man, so I checked what Wiki has to say about this, and GG is quite correct:
“In 1987, ‘Close to the Edge’ was reissued by Atlantic Records on CD in the United States and Europe. Another issue of the album was digitally remastered by Joe Gastwirt in 1994. In 2003, the album was reissued again on disc in an expanded and remastered edition by Rhino and Elektra Records. Included were two previously unreleased tracks: an alternate version of ‘And You and I’, an early run-through of ‘Siberian Khatru’, and Yes’s 1972 single ‘America’ with its b-side, an edit of ‘Total Mass Retain‘.”
Never in doubt:
It’s not so much a cover version as a lot of proggy noodling with the Simon & Garfunkel lyrics chucked in after a while.
I should be careful how I phrase that, really; for to describe them as ‘Simon & Garfunkel lyrics’ does rather give the impression that Art had some involvement in the song-writing process, a goof that Annie Nightingale made when she interviewed Paul Simon for The Old Grey Whistle Test many years ago:
“1972 saw Simon record the song ‘Mother & Child Reunion’,” GG continues. “He performed this song on stage (and presumably close to The Edge) with U2 at Madison Square Garden in 2015.The performance is on YouTube but the quality isn’t great and there’s a load of waffle from Bono at the start of it.”
Which seems a good enough reason to just post the Paul Simon version:
And all that leaves me to do is….oh wait. Rigid Digit is back:
“Forgot to include the story of my U2 branded SatNav.It’s terrible – the streets have no names, and I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.
And I think my U2 fridge is on the way out – all it does is Rattle and Hum.”
Thanks Rigid, I trust you’ll be here all week?
Anyway, as I was saying (he says, locking the door behind him to be on the safe side), all that leaves me to do is to give you the next song in The Chain, along with the way the person suggesting it got there. And don’t worry, it’s a waaaaaaaay better record this time:
The link: As PhonicPat said right at the top, Beautiful Day appeared on the band’s All That You Can’t Leave Behind album. What Pat didn’t say was that said album was produced by Brian Eno (and Daniel Lanois); and the album that this is taken from (Fear of Music) was also produced by Brian Eno (without Daniel Lanois):
So, your suggestions, please, for songs which link to Cities by Talking Heads, along with a brief description of the link, via the Comments Section down below or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org in time for whenever The Chain circus next rolls into town, in a month or so’s time (probably).
“Sunday, Sunday here again in tidy attire You read the colour supplement, the TV guide…”
Well, you can now add “The Chain” to the list of things to read on a Sunday, although events have rather caught up with me, meaning that it will be a race against the clock for me to get this finished by the end of the day.
We ended The Chain #36 with “Hyperactive!” by Thomas Dolby and the usual request for your suggestions for songs that can be linked to that tune. Let’s see what you came up with.
First, a batch of songs which link to “Hyperactive!” the song, and “Hyperactive!” the physical state, first amongst them being submitted by Rol from My Top Ten:
“‘Hyperactive!’ begins with a psychiatrist asking Dolby to “Tell me about your childhood.” So my first choice is…”
A few weeks ago, Babylotti got in touch to put me on notice that he was looking to suggest a song which he thought it would be impossible for me to locate a copy of. This week is the week he put that into practice:
“Okay so starting off with the Hyperactive link, it reminds me of another 80s songster, Alexei Sayle. He had a hit with ‘Ullo John! Gotta New Motor?’ (not the link yet) [which is lucky, as it’s featured before, so I’d have had to disqualify it] in the charts at the exact same time as ‘Hyperactive!’, [I’ve checked this, and it is correct: 26/02/84, ‘Hyperactive!’ was at #29 on it’s way down from #17, whilst ‘Ullo John! Gotta New Motor?’ was at #35 on it’s way to the giddy heights of #15] but in 1982 he released a single as the Albanian World Cup Squad, ‘Albania! Albania!’ (as threatened/promised!). With a chorus quite reminiscent of the Blackadder theme tune, I first heard it on the Anne Nightingale show back then, had been after it ever since.”
One of the rules here at The Chain is that if you suggest a song then you must be able to supply a copy of it in the event that I don’t already own it, or am unable to source it. This has happened 4 or 5 times since we started, and you won’t be surprised to learn than I couldn’t find this one. I had been prepared for this, as Babylotti previously advised me that as far as he was aware, it was only available on one website.
That website, he revealed, was his Soundcloud page. Should be easy enough to find, I thought, typing the words “babylotti” and “soundcloud” into Google. Did it find babylotti’s Soundcloud page? Did it heck. But what it did reveal is that some chap called Rick Shide has been reposting The Chain verbatim for a few months now on something called ‘Inoreader’.
Let’s all give Rick a wave, shall we?
I’m sure you’re all as flattered as I am.
Anyway, to babylotti’s suggestion, which he ended up adding to his own blog, Livin’ Out Rock’n’Roll in order that you can all hear it today. I have to admit, it is pretty funny:
Babylotti then goes off at a bit of tangent, which is fine, as long as it’s justifiable, and his next two suggestions are, linking to “Hyperactive!” via the aforementioned Alexei Sayle record:
“I’ll then stay with the football theme and choose the song from when New Order ruled the world, World in Motion. The greatest football song ever, and that’s coming from a Republic of Ireland supporter…”
Of course, one of the highlights of that record is the rap performed by John Barnes, and let’s be honest, other than that goal against Brazil, it was probably the most impressive thing he ever did in an England shirt.
Caught up on the tube in August last year, Barnes was kind enough to treat his fellow travellers with an impromptu rendition:
“And my last one,” babylotti rounds off, “which always reminds me of Goal of the Month:”
It wasn’t just the song title “Hyperactive!” that was linked to; many others linked to Hyperactive the condition.
Over now to Jules from Music From Magazines. In case you have any issues deciphering Jules’ contributions, as I did this week, please note something he said in a Comments Conversation we had yesterday:
“Please check the time I posted this , music from mags rules are only post in pubs…”
A fine rule, which I may have to bring in as mandatory…
Anyway, here’s Jules’ first suggestion:
“A Hyperactive Thomas can cause many problems, so let’s get it out the system and try Ivor Biggun and….”
Stop right there. Let me just slap one of these labels on this one:
Although, it’s hardly needed, you can pretty much get the gist from the sleeve, the artist (I use that term most misguidedly) and song title:
Ivor Biggun is a the “comic” creation of Doc Cox, who some of you may remember from his stint as one of the co-hosts of consumer show “That’s Life!”, a show spoofed here by the “Not The Nine O’Clock News” team (albeit, in pre-Cox days):
If you ever need to investigate whether there was a link between increased illegal drug use (non-contraceptive) and teenage pregnancies in the 1980s, then you could probably cite this record, for gleefully announcing over a summery, steel drum tune that the lead singer is “drowning in amphetamines” and, even more irresponsibly, that “I don’t care if you get me into trouble”. Yours faithfully, Outraged, Tunbridge Wells.
Finally in this first batch, here’s Alyson from What’s It All About, Alfie? who, like me, went to see ‘T2 Trainspotting’ this week and, like me, bloody loved it. That’s a recommendation, by the way.
“Ian Watkins from the group Steps was always called “H” which was short for Hyperactive – If you’ve ever seen him being interviewed on telly (no I wouldn’t admit to it either) you will know why. The song of theirs that I’m going to choose is…”
That’s not quite what I first thought the “H” stood for, if I’m honest…
Regular visitors to these pages will know that each week one suggestion is crowned “Worst Record of the Week”. Unbelievably, this week that record is not by Steps.
Moving on, and several of you provided links to Mr Dolby himself; here’s Rigid Digit from Stuff & Nonsense with one of them:
“Thomas Dolby was in The Camera Club (a band, not a photographic society) with Bruce Woolley. Bruce Woolley was co-writer (with Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes) of ‘Video Killed The Radio Star’, the song which epitomises all things 80s (even though it was released in 1979).
Many earholes have agreed that the Bruce Woolley and The Camera Club version is superior.”
The first suggestion we received this week was from The Great Gog, whose nominated track leads us rather nicely into the next batch of similarly-themed-suggestions:
“A fairly straightforward double-link springs to mind immediately. Thomas Dolby was involved in the production of Prefab Sprout’s ‘From Langley Park To Memphis’ album (although duties were shared out on that one). That album just happens to include another song with an exclamation mark at the end of the titles, so “Hey Manhattan!” it is.”
Next up, it’s Martin from New Amusements, who suggests a song by a band who are very dear to me indeed:
“Hyperactive has an exclamation mark at the end. Mid-80s twee-merchants The Chesterfields used to use an inverted exclamation mark as the “i” in their name, so how about ‘Ask Johnny Dee’ by The Chesterfields? Or maybe that should be The Chesterf¡elds…”
Taken from their jingly-jangly guitar lost classic “Kettle”, an album which came out in 1987 on the oft-overlooked Subway Records label; I recently placed it in a “Top 1o albums which have stayed with me” Facebook round-robin thing.
I’d completely forgotten about the ! in their name, and I have to say I’m bloody delighted to have the chance to post a song by them, even if they are very much “of their time”.
Oh but before I do, a clarification from Martin:
“On closer inspection, the exclamation mark in The Chesterfields wasn’t inverted, just normal i.e. The Chesterf!elds.”
Last of the Exclamation Marks now, and another of my suggestions. In all honesty, when the first song linked by the exclamantion mark came in, I thought there would be no way that somebody wouldn’t suggest something by this lot.
If you don’t know this band, but like “House of Jealous Lovers”-era The Rapture, then I’d heartily recommend you give this a spin, if for no other reason than it’s prowling Slits “I Heard It Through the Grapevine”-esque bass line:
Okay, on to other Thomas’s now, and back to The Great Gog:
“Around the time that Mr. Dolby was first active musically, there was another keyboard player called Thomas releasing records, albeit with less commercial success – Thomas Leer. Mr. Leer later went on to be part of Act, who had a minor hit with ‘Snobbery & Decay’.”
“My second choice,” continues Badger, “is ‘Thomas the Fib’ by much missed dancey jazz pioneers Red Snapper from their excellent ‘Prince Blimey’ album. Prince Blimey being the bastard son of Prince William and Katie Price from their ill advised affair of 2001. That was exposed by the Daily Mirror after Wills was seen leaving a kebab shop at 3 in the morning and letting himself into the back door of Price’s Penge Maisonette.” [Can we insert the word ‘allegedly’ in that at least once and preferably several times please? – Legal Ed]
Right, you know who this week’s instalment of The Chain is missing? George, that’s who. Up you step, George:
“From Thomas (Dolby) to the diminutive Tommy, which could lead to any number of tracks from a double by The Who, but won’t, but does lead to Eric Clapton who performed Eyesight to the Blind in the film Tommy (I went with my mum to see that film).. Sonny Boy Williams (the second one) does the original”
I’m assuming it’s the original version that you want:
Now, remember earlier that Jules revealed that he only ever posts when in the pub? Here’s another one from him, which he submitted after I had asked what on earth he was dribbling on about in two of his other suggestions (one of which i still don’t understand):
“St Thomas supported Lambchop at the Wedgewood Rooms in Portsmouth some years back, as the encore started we had to go to get the last ferry home. And the song a cover of The Stranglers “(Get a) Grip (of Yourself)’.”
Some admin, from me: the St Thomas referred to does not imply that Thomas Dolby has received some kind ecclesiastical sanctity; it is the performing name of one Thomas Hansen. Also, the cover isn’t by St Thomas, it’s by Lambchop, a live version of which appears on their “Rainer on my Parade” album, but I’m posting the studio version.
Some admin from Jules: “This [choice] is not a reference to my previous ‘I’m a Wanker’ suggestion.”
Two more categories to go now, and unsurprisingly, many of you linked to Thomas Dolby’s surname, and the technical side of sound reproduction.
I’ll let Martin explain:
“Dolby, as anyone of a certain vintage (i.e. all of us) knows, is the de facto tape hiss reduction technology. Dolby-B was most common. Dolby-C less so – better hiss reduction but too much loss of treble. Dolby-S came knocking just as tape succumbed to burning your own CDs instead, but it was brilliant! Especially if recording on a good quality metal tape (TDK MA90 or, better still, Sony Metal-XR)… sorry, turning into a hi-fi geek. The suggestion. So for me, Dolby makes me think “S” and hence, unfortunately, S-Express and ‘Theme From S-Express’. Not something I’m desperate to hear again…”
Long-term readers will know that some time ago I ran a very short-lived thread about the samples used on certain records, and ran one post which looked at exactly this tune. You can read it again here (not sure if the links are still active, let me know if not).
Before we go any further, a suggestion of a different sort. As mentioned earlier, one of the rules here is that we don’t play the same tune twice (unless the first time it was played it was because it featuring in The Official Chain, rather than being suggested by one of us). When you leave your Comment/Suggestion, you should have the option of ticking a little box which lets you know if anyone replies to your Comment – please tick this, for in the event of me being unable to source the song, or in case I need you to clarify your suggestion, or, as happened here, you suggested something that had already featured, it makes it a lot easier for me to get in touch with you. Thanks.
So, back to Rigid Digit:
“Spinal Tap reference time:
When discussing the failure of their new album (‘Smell The Glove’), Jeanine Pettibone (David St Hubbins’ girlfriend) stated that the problem with the album was that “You can’t do Heavy Metal in DOBLY”
Suggested track: ‘Stonehenge’.”
Which we’ve had before (#32). So, in the absence of a response from Rigid to my request for an alternative suggestion, I’ve, er, plumped for this one:
A joint suggestion now, for The Swede of Unthought of, though, somehow nominated a tune that was on my not-so-shortlist, which he very graciously said he’d step aside and let me nominate. However, a better idea, I think is if we jointly suggest this and then both have another go at a snake related tune.
Over to you then, Swede:
“As George so rightly pointed out the Dolby system was developed in part to reduce tape hiss. Another thing that hisses is of course a snake, so let’s have ‘The Snake’ by Al Wilson.”
Nope, that’s not the worst record of the week either.
Some of you knew that Thomas Dolby was heavily involved in the development of ringtones; Rigid Digit says that he “…invented the Nokia Ring Tone (cue oversized mobile phone a la Trigger Happy TV: “HELLO!, I’m on the Internet. It’s very boring (mostly, but there are some places worth visiting – honest!)”
In case the reference to oversized mobile phones means nothing to you, Rigid refers to this:
..which prompted babylotti to pipe up:
“You’d almost want to go with Mario Piu’s Library there, it samples Dom Joly’s favourite phrase.”
Quite an uninspring bit of cover art, that, isn’t it. Let me see if I can find a more appropriate library related picture…
Ah yes, this seems about right:
Anyway, where were we? Ringtones, that’s where. And here’s Alex G from We Will Have Salad with, without even the merest shadow of a doubt, the Worst Recod of the Week, by a country mile:
“Thomas Dolby went on to basically invent polyphonic ringtones. I therefore suggest this week’s worst record, ‘Axel F’ by Crazy Frog, on the grounds that it’s Thomas Dolby’s fault. I dimly recall there were some further, possibly even worse, follow-ups, but I think Axel F will suffice to remind us of the evil that Thomas Dolby has visited upon the world. His crimes must never be forgotten.”
It’s alright for you lot, you don’t have to listen to it, like I do when I check the copy I *ahem* aquired is clear and has uploaded okay.
Crazy Frog – Axel F
I once berated a guy I worked with for having that as his ringtone.
As I mentioned when Alex posted that, the one redeeming feature of that record is, if my memory serves, that it stopped Coldplay from getting their first ever number one single.
“Thomas Dolby had the look of a mad scientist and indeed did ‘She Blinded Me With Science’. So, ‘The Scientist’ please – not the Coldplay original but rather the Willie Nelson cover. If you can only find the original please don’t bother.”
Always a pleasure to deny Coldplay twice in one post.
Just two more suggestions to go now; penultimately, back to The Robster:
“The quirky scientist Dr Magnus Pyke guested on another of Thomas Dolby’s hits ‘She Blinded Me With Science’. In his Wikipedia entry, it claims one of the many books he’s written is ‘Tricky and Portishead and Other Stonehead Bristol Sounds of the Future.’ I have seen references of this come up occasionally in other places, but have never actually managed to track down any credible suggestion that such a book even exists. However, it’s a fantastic thought that Dr Pyke would have written such a thing, so I’m also going to suggest some things links with my other suggestion: Tricky’s cover of XTC’s ‘Dear God’.”
Which would be where we’d leave it, but one last peek into the pub to see what Jules has been up to leads to something about him being too old to be in a fight, about Donald Trump, an admission that the one suggestion I still don’t follow “…still makes not a lot sense…”, that I should “…ignore previous drunken ramblings…” and most pertinently that “…I needed some Billy Bragg…”
So, as a one off, while I’m not at all sure how this links to the source record, I’ll assume that somewhere there is a link buried deep in Jules inner psyche, play it, and leave it at that. It is rather fine, as relevant today as when Woody Guthrie first penned the lyrics:
Here’s some Bonus Points for The Great Gog for proving Meat Loaf right when he sang “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad”.
And here’s a request for your suggestions for songs which link to “Bonny” by Prefab Sprout, along with a brief description of the link, via the Comments Section down below, in time for next Sunday’s edition (by which I mean, by Saturday night, please!)
Meanwhile, in that there football world, it’s the opening day of the Premiership today. And as if by magic, as I queued up to buy my lunch yesterday, my iPod gave me this to listen to, a song which to these ears is synonymous with football highlights (that, and a truly awful performance at Glastonbury 2010, when Ian Broudie seemed determined to prove every song he had ever written he had done so in the wrong key for his singing voice):
Since I have a “never knowingly give any money to Murdoch” philosophy, I have no idea what tune Sky have chosen to accompany their Football coverage this year. I imagine it’s something by Kasabian. Which is another reason not to watch Sky, of course.
But I was mightily heartened today to note that BBC’s Saturday lunchtime football show, “Football Focus” was continuing to use this masterpiece as the theme tune: