Port Out Starboard Home

A few months ago, I was contacted by the letting agents I rent my flat through. They were letting me know that the landlord had arranged for a contractor to visit my flat to do some works.

If you rent a property, and your landlord is on the ball, then you’ll know this kind of thing happens fairly regularly; boiler checks, smoke alarm checks, gas checks – my life is a constant flow of people interrupting me, more noticeable since I’ve been working from home, I suppose.

Anyway, time has faded my memory to the point where I can’t quite recall what this particular visit was about. But I was at home, I let them in to do whatever they had to do, after donning my Covid-compliant face mask, diver’s suit, hi-vis jacket, rubber gloves and gas-mask.

A couple of weeks later, another message, another contractor. This one was a cheery young lady, equipped with an A4 pad and one of those laser pens used to measure distances. She visited each of the four rooms in my flat, pointing her laser at the walls and studiously making notes as she went.

After she left, I emailed my letting agent. “Somebody has just been to measure the flat. Reading between the lines, is the landlord considering selling?”

“Yes,” came the reply, “but they’re only thinking about it at the moment. Don’t worry. Selling a property takes a long-time, and even if he does sell, then the new owner may want to keep you in place rather than look for new tenants. And if they do want you out, we have to give you six month’s notice. But we’re a long way off that happening.”

This did not sound good to me, and so I started considering my options. With working from home continuing for the foreseeable future, I could see no reason why I should remain in London, paying London prices for everything. I floated the idea of me moving out of London to management, who said they would have no objection, so long as I was able to visit the offices for a monthly team meeting, and/or can pop in and work in the office once or twice a month.

Best I start looking for somewhere commutable then, I thought, and it didn’t take me long to land on the cathedral city of Peterborough; about an hour’s train ride out of London, it has the added benefit of being the closest town to where I grew up, of still having one of my best friends living in it, and it being close enough to my parents and wider family to make it seem like I was more accessible, when really it made it no more likely that any of them would turn up unannounced and catch me slobbing out in front of the TV watching Police Interceptors! and eating pickled onion Monster Munch in my dressing gown.

So, Peterborough it is then:

The Long Blondes – Peterborough

Home to Peterborough United Football Club, nicknamed The POSH:

Lionel Jeffries – Posh!

But no rush, eh? Selling the property will take ages.

A week or two passed. Another message from the letting agent: “The landlord has agreed for some people to visit the property tomorrow. They are potential buyers, so please make sure the property is tidy and try to make them feel welcome.”

Quite why they thought I should be complicit in making myself homeless was beyond me. I was reminded of when Hel and I shared a flat, and a similar situation arose. But when potential buyers arrived, we would ensure both of us were in our nightwear and dressing gowns, laying on the settees looking hung-over (not that much of a chore, as it goes), and when the latest fresh-faced couple were escorted in, one of us would waive our hand in the direction of one corner of the room, where a dirty great crack lived (the one in the main bedroom was worse, literally so wide you could see the traffic light controlled junction outside through it), and say “Told you about the subsidence, have they?” The landlord soon removed it from the market, and presumably waited until we had both moved out before trying again.

I didn’t have time to point out the many flaws in my flat when these visitors came; they literally arrived, walked through the entire flat (one of them letting out a little laugh as they entered my bedroom), then turned around and walked out.

“What was so funny about my bedroom?” I asked, as I had spent a long time making it look as un-sex dungeony as I could.

“Nothing. Bye.” they replied, as they left. They can’t have been there for more than 2 minutes.

Well, they can’t have been impressed, I thought. No need to worry about them buying it.

Another couple of weeks passed. Another message from the letting agents. “Hi, just to let you know the property has now been sold. We will let you know what the new owner’s intentions are as soon as we know.”

Who on earth would buy a property this quickly, with no surveys done, particularly when the property has the history of subsidence that this place does? Frankly, I smelt a cash sale, with all the possible crimes that might involve, be it tax evasion, money laundering, the lot.

My question was answered a week or two later, when I was advised the new owners would be visiting the property the following day. The arrived mid-morning, and it was the same two men who had laughed at my bedroom previously, this time accompanied by their own person with an A4 notepad and a laser pen for measuring distances. They let him go around the flat, doing his stuff, whilst they stood in the living room, glaring at walls and the TV I was watching but mostly, it seemed, at me as I was watching the TV (Police Interceptors!, of course). It was probably the most awkward ten minutes of my life, and as regular readers will know, I’ve experienced a lot of awkward moments in my time.

They left, their verbal output this time expanded to “Cheers mate. See you again.”

It was around this point that I realised that at no point had the letting agents referred to the new owner as the new landlord. And let’s be honest, when they turn up and start measuring up after they’ve already purchased it, the signs for keeping me in situ were not looking good.

I contacted the letting agents. “They’re going to evict me, aren’t they?” I asked, not unreasonably. “They’ve told us that they have no plans to change anything,” was the less than reassuring reply, a bit like Harry Kane saying he’s decided not to leave Spurs “this summer”.

“Then why have they just been round and measured the flat up?”

“We have no idea. Perhaps they want to refurbish it for you.”

That sounds likely, doesn’t it, dear reader? Having just spent a few hundred thousand pounds on purchasing the flat, they’re bound to want to zhuzh it up for the current tenant – and pay for him to live elsewhere whilst they do it – as opposed to, say, kicking me out, doing it up and doubling the rent for the next poor sod who has to try and negotiate the perilous staircase into my flat.

Sure enough, shortly afterwards, a letter from the owner’s solicitors, serving me with a Section 21 Eviction Notice, telling me that ordinarily this meant they only have to give me one month’s notice, but due to Covid they were going to give me four months (phrased as if they were doing me a favour off their own back, rather than following the temporary rules imposed on them by the Government in a rare moment of clarity).

So, I have until mid-November to find somewhere new. And, I have learned when checking this post, that when the notice period ends, the landlord – because he’s not just the owner anymore, he’s trousering my rent so he’s my bloody landlord now whether he likes it or not – has another 4 months to apply to court. If they don’t start court action within this time, the section 21 notice expires. They then need to give me a new notice if they still want me to leave, and so we go round again.

Not that I particularly want to bank on them not applying to the Court the moment the 4 months is up. Nor would I want to rely on the fact that, due to years of neglect and under-funding coupled with Covid, the Court system has a monumental backlog of claims, complaints, disputes, criminal hearings and evictions to hear.

So I’m actively looking. In Peterborough. And to my delight, I have found that, for less than I currently pay every month to live in a pokey one-bedroom flat, too small to house a washing machine, with it’s death trap electric hob, and kitchen with no windows and no air flowing through it, coupled with a belatedly fitted smoke alarm that knows all of these things very, very well and reminds me every sodding time I make toast – for less than I pay for these luxuries, I can get a three bedroom house, with a garden, a utilities room….oh, my, get me out of here, I can’t wait.

On the Friday before the recent Bank Holiday weekend, I booked the day off work, and arranged to view five properties. On the way, I received a barrage of apologetic texts and emails, so that by the time I got to Peterborough, only one property was left. One had been let, potential tenants had paid holding fees on two of them (which, for the uninitiated, means that nobody else can have the property – they’d ‘bagsied’ it, in essence), and one had some mould discovered in it which needed to be addressed before viewing could happen.

My old mate Richie, who lives fairly locally, kindly agreed to drive me between properties. He accompanied me to view the one that was left. I’d already decided this place wasn’t for me the moment I walked into the kitchen and saw there was an electric hob, but Richie looked out of the rear bedroom window, surveyed the neighbouring properties, and said: “That side hasn’t cut their grass in years, and that side has a hot tub. Do not move in here. They’re sex people.”

I was due to return to Peterborough the following day, to see two more properties; soon that was down to one and then, the inevitable text: “Can we reschedule your viewing for this Wednesday at 4:30 please?” I decided it wasn’t the best plan in the world to refuse a request by someone I was hoping would find me somewhere to live, so I agreed.

Took more time off work, arrived at the property early on the Wednesday. And waited.

And waited.

And waited.

At 4:40, I rang their office, and politely enquired why I was at the property but they weren’t.

“We’ve got no viewings booked in the diary, I’m afraid,” was the reply.

I explained they had rearranged my appointment from Saturday, and gave them the name of the person who had acknowledged my agreement.

“He must have forgotten to out it in the diary.”

“Plainly.”

“Can we reschedule it?”

“No. We can’t. You asked me to be here now. I’ve taken time off work and travelled up from London to be here at the time you asked me to be here. Either I view this property today, or not at all.”

This is as close as I ever get to snapping. Friends will tell you I’m the most easy-going of blokes, although Hel will doubtless counter that with a story about how I lost my rag at Glastonbury 2004, with a friend who wanted to go and watch Muse on the Pyramid Stage, whilst all the rest of the group wanted to watch Orbital on The Other Stage, and who had not stopped whining about it all day.

“If you want to go and watch Muse, go and watch Muse,” I apparently said. “We are staying here to watch Orbital. So either shut up or fuck off.”

I was right, of course (even if it wasn’t the year Matt Smith appeared on stage with them):

But I digress.

“We’ll have someone there by 5:15.”

At 5:17, he arrived, poor thing. Clearly just told to get his arse over to me, didn’t have a clue about the property, or the area.

But it was alright, ticked all the boxes I needed, so I asked how we move things forwards.

“I’ll get somebody to call you tomorrow to go through all the details.”

The next day, I waited for the call.

And waited.

And waited.

On Friday, I emailed them: “Have you forgotten to call me, as well as forgetting to show me the property?”

On Saturday, three missed calls, all when I had fallen asleep on the sofa (whilst watching Police Interceptors! and eating pickled onion Monster Munch). I called back – office closed.

Ah well, I thought. They’ll probably call me on Monday.

So on Monday, I waited for the call.

And waited.

And waited.

On Tuesday, I rang them. “I’m beginning to think you don’t want anyone to move into this house,” I said. I knew the house was ready to move into immediately, and had wondered why it hadn’t already been snapped up. I was starting to draw my own conclusion as to how that had come about.

To be fair, the lady I spoke to this time was great, really helpful; she emailed me all the documents I need to sign, along with a list of what they need from me, and took a holding fee so nobody else could take the property before me, subject to me passing all the checks they have to do. Property bagsied.

That evening, I saw I had a missed call from them, about twenty minutes after we had last spoken. I called back: office closed.

On Wednesday, I called them again. “We have some bad news,” said the really helpful lady. “I notified the landlord yesterday that we thought we’ve found somebody to rent the house, he seemed really pleased, but then he rang back and said that the sale of the house was taking too long and he didn’t want to rent it anymore. I’m very sorry. I’ll reimburse the holding fee for you now.”

And so, today, if you’re reading this on Saturday, I’m travelling back to look at two other properties, one of which looks pretty amazing. Wish me luck!

But that’s not the end.

On Thursday, the nice helpful lady called me.

“Guess what?” she said.

“Go on…” I replied.

“The landlord came into the offices earlier, one of my colleagues spoke to him, and told him he was being very foolish not to rent the property out, and he’s changed his mind again! So, what would you like to do?”

I’d like to tell him to go fuck himself is what I’d like to do, I thought, but decided a more measured response was required.

“I can’t say he’s filling me with confidence. And what did you say the other day, about the sale of the house taking too long? I didn’t quite understand that….”

“Oh, he’s in the process of buying the property. We’re handling the purchase for him. The sale hasn’t gone through yet, but it will.”

Huh? How can you rent out a property you don’t own? And what happens if the sale doesn’t go through, and I’ve already moved in, where does that leave me? Getting evicted again, that’s where.

To misquote Oscar Wilde: To get evicted from one property may be regarded as a misfortune; to get evicted from two in a row makes it look like you’ve been smearing shit on the walls in some kind of dirty protest.

I’ve told them I’ll let them know after I’ve viewed the two properties today.

I bet you they’ll be calling me before I call them…

This, then, is for my current landlord, the one who blew me off (stop it at the back there!) and any others who might be just be acting in equally bastardly ways, along with any letting agents who haven’t got the balls to give a long-standing tenant a heads-up that his days are numbered:

Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine – Sheriff Fatman

At what point do you think I should I tell my current landlord that the subsidence cracks have started appearing again?

No, me neither.

More soon.

Friday Night Music Club

For quite some time now, I’ve been pondering what it is that is preventing me from posting with the same regularity as I was last year.

I’ve worked it out.

Regular readers will know that I generally sit on a Friday night, have a few drinks and write posts for the next week. But for a while now, I’ve become preoccupied on doing a new mix.

Warning: artist at work excuse incoming.

See, whilst they seem remarkably unpopular, I really enjoy piecing together a long playlist/mix/call it what you will, and that inevitably means a few drafts which don’t quite, to quote Echo & The Bunnymen, cut the mustard.

So, I’ve been working on this mix for some time now, but somehow something always seemed to prevent me from finishing it, be it me tinkering with the running order, or thinking of new tunes to toss in, or some kind of technical calamity, or (more often) listening to it and realising I’ve utterly messed up a mix and I simply can’t bear to have anyone else listen to it.

I’m not going to pretend all of the mixes between tunes here are perfect – there’s at least one which I know isn’t – but I’ve reached the point where it’s close enough to let it go and move on to something else, before I drive myself mad searching for perfection.

So here’s my latest mix, imperfect though it may be; frustrating as it has been, I really like this one, which starts off in the usual way – slowly – before getting into a groove which includes Kings of Leon from before they went stadium and knew how to use a cowbell, a new(ish) track by The Chemical Brothers, an obligatory Soulwax remix, two of the finest female pop stars going: Miley Cyrus & Dua Lipa (not on the same tune, sadly), the occasional hidden ‘joke’ (by which I mean it seemed funny when I first put the songs together, less so now), via Madonna having a short chat with Johnny Cash.

It’s the usual mix of songs you love, songs you’ve forgotten about, and songs which make you think “What the hell has he put this on here for??”. Some might say eclectic, but I couldn’t possibly comment. Think mainly Indie guitar stuff, with a few dance tunes, 80s pop songs and a couple of timeless classics – at least one of which you probably won’t have heard before – thrown in.

As always, no track-listing – I like to imagine your faces when the next song kicks in – but there’s a list of featured artists on the right hand side in case you want to see what you’re letting yourself in for. Which is a treat, obviously. If you desperately need to know what a track is, either Shazam it or, if you’d like to feed my ego, ask me via the Comments at the bottom of this post.

Usual disclaimer: any skips and jumps are down to the mixing software; any mis-timed mixes (and, as I say, there is at least one) is down to me. Either way: Sorry!

One more thing: you may recall that last time out I mentioned that my brother had said he managed to predict what I was going to play next, which annoyed me greatly. No such criticism of the last mix, although he told me he listened to it whilst out on his morning run, so some of the sudden gear changes weren’t helpful. I’ve tried to rectify that this time, with a relatively steady beat and tempo maintained throughout (after you’ve got past the traditional slow start) for those of you who listen to this whilst doing your exercises (not that I really understand what that means). The danger was that it would denigrate into either a Ministry of Sound pumping dance mix or a Top Gear/Best Driving Songs…in the World…Ever! playlist, but I think the song choices just about keep us on the right side of that happening.

Let’s say it starts slowly, gets into a groove, and then has more false endings than a Status Quo single.

I’m a bit annoyed that since I first decided to include it, at least on song here has popped up in an advert – and you know how I feel about them – for burgers, of all things. Rest assured, the advert in question was not the inspiration for the song’s inclusion. You’ll know it when you hear it, I think.

Oh and there are several songs which feature effing and jeffings – “sexual swear words” as Simon Bates used to say at the start of videos – so please avoid if you are easily offended by unfettered vulgarity and sauciness. Look, there’s a Goldie Lookin’ Chain tune which is probably the rudest and most inappropriate (but funny) thing I’ll ever post, so beware.

For a limited time (until I do another one, so y’know, could be months), you can stream or download it via Soundcloud here.

More soon.

The Chain #49

I promise that I’m not going to start all of my posts with these words, but following the last instalment of The Chain I had an email from from long-time reader and Chain Gang contributor George who said that he was “toying with idea of making a cd of Chain 48”. (To any of our younger readers, CDs are what we used to record music on to and listen to music from before streaming and making playlists became things.)

Anyway, I thought this was an excellent idea, because I have a playlist for every edition of The Chain, the purpose of which was partly so that I could revisit and relive the good times and the bad, but mostly so that I could check whether something had already been suggested and therefore was precluded from being nominated again. You may have noticed I’ve been rather lax about this since The Chain returned, and that’s not going to change: I figure in these days of Trump & Johnson, of global pandemics*, international recessions, corruption at a governmental level, and starving children (it was The Chain or a Rant today), there’s more important things to worry about than duplications in The Chain back catalogue.

(*Sit down, New Zealand, I’m not talking about you)

Anyway, the point I am trying to make is that to get all of #48’s songs onto one CD would take a lot of editing choices, so I’d love to hear which songs made the cut – even more so should you decide on making one after you’ve read this one because this week (I say that like I post these every week, rather than every six weeks or so) we have just shy of 4 and 3/4 hours worth of tunes to get through, and I don’t think there’s a duff choice amongst them. Some ropey ones, yes, but duffers, no. But then Kay hasn’t suggested anything this time, so…..so maybe I should crack on.

Oh, and George (Incoming obligatory oblique 1970s TV reference that about 80% of you won’t get): I’m sorry but we aren’t able to return any drawings sent in, but yes, it is a big one, no I’ve never seen one quite that shape before, and no I don’t need you to send me a photo, but thank you for the offer.

OK, so let’s start as we usually do with a reminder of the source material this time around, which was this:

As you might expect, we have a lot of tunes related to Talk(ing), some related to Fear of Music (the album that features on), and then what I believe is the collective term for lots of suggestions on a similar theme: an absolute fuckload of songs linked to a specific city, or the words cities or city. As always, I’ll try to put them in an order that makes some kind of narrative sense (you’ve noticed I do that right?) but if you’re planning on doing yourself a playlist of these, I’d be interested to see if you think you’ve done better (NB: no I wouldn’t. Keep it to yourself, thanks very much).

Not quite first out of the traps this time was Swiss Adam from Bagging Area who, as he will explain, suggests a tune which simply demands to go first:

“Cities should have a theme and luckily we have an ahead of its time piece of ice cool euro dance that found a second life in the Balearic sounds of ’88 and thereafter:

Now, I don’t profess to know anywhere near as much about that there dance music as our Swiss, but I do know that got used on a tune recorded by David Russell Lee, who used to be known under the stage name of Joey Negro. Lee also recorded under many other pseudonyms, including this one, which throws in a Queen sample for good measure, and I think is what Swiss means when he says “thereafter”, given this came out in 2001:

But since we’re already going off on tangents, here’s a factoid for you (lifted from Wiki, so large pinch of salt at the ready): In 1993, Lee was approached by Take That’s label with a view to working together. Lee suggested they covered an old hit by Dan Hartman, which hadn’t been a hit in the UK but which had become a popular club track in the house music scene. They did as suggested, replacing Loleatta Holloway from the original with – who else? – Scottish songstress Lulu and lo! the boy band’s second number one in the UK was born.

Anyway. Cities. I think next I’ll hand over to Rigid Digit from Stuff & Nonsense to get us back on track:

“Knowing too much about 3rd Division Punk Bands (as I do), the phrase “Cities” immediately brought forth [this]…It’s OK, in a mohican wearing punky thrashing type way, but probably not what you’re looking for.”

Turns out, that’s quite the accurate description. I’m also imagining a purple and black furry jumper:

I gather Westlife are planning to do a cover of that as their comeback single.

Well, we seem to have strayed into the territory of songs with the word Cities in their title, so here’s another couple of suggestions. Firstly, C from Sun Dried Sparrows who says “I’m just plumping for the very first thing that comes into my head as a kind of quick subconscious response and it is…..:”

…which is bound to lighten the mood.

Let’s see what George can conjure up this time:

“Taking the cities from the song, to Manchester City, whose best English footballer was Colin Bell, whose birthday is February 26th, the same date as Michael Bolton…[Oh, Jesus, no…. – Ed]…wait for it…Fats Domino [Better – Ed]…and Johnny Cash, so my song is…:”

Phew!

I think at this point I should hand back to Rigid Digit, who gave me a whole host of acts who had recorded songs called In The City, the first of which was also suggested by Martin of New Amusements fame:

..and this (just Rigid Digit now):

and (which, if I was still giving points out, would earn a couple for being in one of the coolest films ever, but I’m not, so it won’t – and in any event, I’d have to deduct points for the artist having also been in The Eagles and Ringo Starr & His All Starr Band, surely the least cool bands ever):

and this:

Now. Regular readers will know that I have deep-seated hatred of songs being appropriated for advertising purposes, as documented in my S.S.O.S. (Stop Spoiling Our Songs) series. For the avoidance of doubt, I’m with the late, great Bill Hicks on this one:

Here’s a tune which I’ve been meaning to post for a while, and which samples Hicks and explains my thoughts better than I ever could, and which I must credit my old mate Dum Dum (not his real name) for bringing into my life:

See, it’s bad enough when songs we love are appropriated to sell something, but surely it’s even worse when an act we love pops over to an overseas land in the hope that those back home will never find out what they’ve done – and I’m looking at you Bacon and Clooney – isn’t it?:

Mostly because Joey did it too:

But I digress, again.

Rigid’s next suggestion is this: “…or even Starship who built this city on sausage rolls.” Now, we all know what he is obliquely referring to, and that’s the first of the last two Christmas #1s here in the UK. In a week where Tory MPs voted down a motion which would have ensured that children from poor families don’t starve because of the various lockdown restrictions, I thought it probably best if I didn’t post a free link to a song which tried to help. Instead, here’s the (extremely unfunny) video (and yes, this got to #1 in the UK):

…and here’s the song they are referencing:

To be fair, Rigid does offer up a vastly superior song, the title of which references the same source:

So before we set off on a little journey of all the songs mentioning actual cities in their titles or their lyrics (and there’s lots of them), we’ll have a look at all of the suggestions – most of them are mine, admittedly – which feature the word City in the title or in the artiste name. But before we do that, let’s get all of the other ones mopped up.

Here’s the Devonian with, I think, my favourite explanation ever:

“A geographical link… not going off “Cities” though, but rather the fact that the bassist in Talking Heads was the esteemed (albeit not by David Byrne) Tina Weymouth. That got me wondering whether there are any other groups with bassists named after gentrified Dorset coastal settlements. But I couldn’t find any, so I had to settle for a couple of singers instead. Therefore I give you Shelly and Karen Poole and…”

“…which is great and you know it is really.”

Actually, I’m more of an ‘I Am, I Feel’ kinda guy, as it goes, but that’s enough about why I can’t go on public transport without a responsible adult in tow anymore.

“Whilst Devonian was struggling for Dorset-named bass players to link to Tina Weymouth,” pipes up The Great Gog, “I found myself thinking of a feature of said coast that is named in a song – namely the theme tune to children’s TV show Portland Bill (which must have been 20 years old when my kids watched it on satellite telly in the early 00’s).

I can’t say this rang any bells with me at all, but I have managed to track down a copy of the writer of the theme tune in question, playing…well, it:

Next up is PhonicPat who, undeterred by suggesting the worst record last time out, has come up with a load of absolute bangers this time, starting with this, which kinda follows on given that it’s “made up of the rhythm section of Talking Heads” who just so happen to be husband and wife combo Chris Frantz (drums) and Tina Weymouth (bass and renowned gentrified Dorset coastal settlement):

Talking Heads “…tried to continue without Byrne and released the ‘No Talking Just Heads’ album” Pat continues, “featuring collaborations with Debbie Harry, Andy Partridge and Shaun Ryder amongst others therefore:”

and

and

And Pat isn’t finished there:

“[A] David Byrne/Talking Heads link” (as Byrne features as guest vocalist on this):

Now, there’s two things to say about that: firstly Byrne mentions New York at the start, and we’ll be coming on to that city in the fullness of time; and secondly these PhonicPat sponsored words: “…(along with saucy video)“.

In the name of research, strictly so that you don’t have to press play on this next video, you understand, I have watched this, several times, and can confirm that no matter how much you might slow it down or rewind and watch again, whoever had the job of censoring out the wobbly bits did a fine job. Still, best you approach with caution, eh?

Remind me in a bit to give you a related Pet Shop Boys fact, will you?

Since we seem to have landed on band-related suggestions, George is back again:

“From Talking Heads to the Talking Book album by Stevie Wonder, and the track:…”

And moving on to other suggestions about links to the band name we have Alyson from What’s It All About? who says: “We’ve had Dollar [last time out] so in the same vein can I suggest….”

Whoa there tiger! I need to explain the “in the same vein” bit, because Dollar should definitely not be bracketed with The Fizz so lightly. Oh no. For post-1980s fame The Fizz split into two factions: one containing original members Cheryl Baker, Mike Nolan and (sighs) Jay Aston, the other containing Bobby Gee and an almighty war broke out about who should use the name Bucks Fizz to promote their cruise ship wares. And amidst this row, up popped former member of Dollar and never member of the Fizz, David Van Day who, when he wasn’t trying to be the Lawrence Fox of his day and appear all outrageous by dumping his girlfriend live on Channel 5’s The Wright Stuff, elected to appropriate the name Bucks Fizz, go on a tour, sing a couple of their songs and trouser all the cash. The twat.

Anyway, here’s Alyson’s Fizz choice:

What I love about Alyson’s choice is that she could have picked the original of that, by The Romantics, but such is her devotion to ladies having their skirts ripped off as part of a Eurovision dance routine, she simply had to plump for a bit of Fizz. Kudos.

No idea what I’m banging on about? Here you go, complete with withering intro from the much missed Terry Wogan:

Genius pop music. And I mean that.

Alyson has some other suggestions linking to Talking Heads’ name, namely:

and

Almost time to set off on our tour of cities, have you got your packed lunch and your waterproof coat? Ok, I’ll stall for a bit with some frankly rather clever suggestions.

The source record this time features on Talking Heads’ Fear of Music album, which takes us into the dark territory of phobias. Or, as the Devonian puts it: “Cities is from the album Fear Of Music… which is a Phobia… which is a song by Flowered Up”

It sure is:

Which leads us neatly on to Hal’s suggestions: “Didn’t Cage the Elephant release an album called Melophobia?” he asks, rhetorically. Well, yes, yes they did. And in case you were wondering, Melophobia is the correct technical term for having a fear of music, so here’s something from the album of the same name:

I’ve always avoided them because, well, I thought (and still do) that they have a terrible name, but that’s not bad so maybe I need to reassess.

Anyway, Hal isn’t finished yet: “Which leads us to Phonophobia: The Second Coming by Extreme Noise Terror. Or perhaps not…”

Too late, you’ve said it now.

Phonophobia: The Second Coming is an album by Extreme Noise Terror, and this is one of the songs on it:

Peelie would be proud.

How do you follow that? With this:

Thank goodness for Rol from My Top Ten who kindly steps in to suggest this, which in his eyes “seems an obvious winner”

Frankly, if we’re going to mention bands with the word City in their name, I don’t think we can justifiably omit this lot:

“The other obvious one”, Rol continues undeterred, and I’ll let him carry on because I can’t quite work out where else to place this, “is to jump to Radiohead (as they took their name from a Talking Heads song) and Street Spirit (because there are lots of streets in cities…)

He’s not wrong, there are. I counted at least seven near where I live just the other day, and I think I may have missed some.

I hadn’t finished with bands with City in their names. This lot are definitely less renowned than Mr McKeown and the gang (Bay City Rollers, not Radiohead) and are named after 2000AD’s Judge Dredd comic strip. Play this one loud:

And so we move on to songs with the word City in the title (that aren’t called In the City). You know how until that last little spurt I’ve hardly suggested anything so far? Consider that ended. Eyes down and here we go with the almost entirely forgotten about:

…to an often overlooked gem:

…and the never to be forgotten:

A sort of clever one: this was released on City Rockers, a label synonymous with the electro-clash sound of the early 2000s:

And we shouldn’t overlook this brace of bangers:

…which almost inevitably leads us here:…

…which leads me to this spoof record, but it’s a spoof of a song which doesn’t have a city in it’s title, but I’m sure you’ll get it:

And finally, I was very surprised that absolutely nobody suggested anything from PJ Harvey’s magnificent Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea album, so I guess I’ll have to:

I’m stalling because it feels slightly disingenuous to be suggesting we go on a world tour just as so many cities around the world are locking down to prevent travel and the potential spreading of the Corona virus, so can I ask that you all don your face masks, smear yourselves in hand sanitiser like it’s goose fat before you attempt to swim the Channel, don’t stand so close to me and we’ll be off, safely.

But where to start? “Something from Gerry Rafferty’s very fine City To City album perhaps?” pipes up Rigid Digit again, which seems a perfectly good suggestion, and I’ve plumped, somewhat obviously, for the title track:

And it’s to Rigid Digit that we turn to yet again as we herald the start of The Chain World Tour which, given some places like my beloved Wales have gone into circuit-breaking lockdown today, I must say I feel a teensy bit guilty about, but, nevertheless, here we go.

Truly, there can only be one song to kick this off, and as Rigid quotes: “London, Paris, New York, Munich.  Everybody talk about…:

“I was beaten to M,” moans The Great Gog, “but other songs name-checking a number of cities that sprang to mind were…:”

…and…

Not forgetting, as Martin from New Amusements points out, a song which (apart from the Hang the DJ bit) perhaps most perfectly encapsulates where we are right now:

Ok, let’s start, with a whistle-stop tour of the UK. Here’s The Robster:

“I was going to suggest the wonderful Theme For Great Cities but Swiss Adam beat me to it! So I decided to think about songs ABOUT cities. Then I realised I’d be suggesting about 4 million songs and you’d hate me more than I’d hate myself! So in the end I plumped for one city. It was going to be Newport, but the only songs about us are parodies and parodies of parodies. So I chose our neighbours instead and came up with…:

I’m not sure why The Robster thinks this lot only do parodies. Funny songs, of course: it’s their stock in trade. I mean, sure this one is a parody, but it’s the only one I know which actually mentions The Mighty ‘Port in it’s title, and (sorry Rob) from the short time I lived there, seems wholly accurate to me:

Let’s head up to Birmingham next, and I’ll hand the reins back to Swiss Adam for a moment, for he is quoting lines from the source material to guide us to our next destination.

“Birmingham ‘lots of rich people’….” (although I think Byrne was probably referring to B’ham, Alabama.)

For those of us old enough to remember, it’s hard to forget when they fell foul of a Government clause of the 1981 Broadcasting Act which prohibited the broadcast of direct statements by representatives or supporters of 11 Irish political and paramilitary organisations. The restrictions were part of the Thatcher government’s desire to prevent Sinn Féin from employing the media for political advantage.

Yeh, I know. Dry subject.

What this meant in practical terms was that when, in 1987, they appeared on Friday Night Live , a Thames Television programme hosted by Ben Elton, they played Streets of Sorrow but the broadcaster cut to an ad break before they got to Birmingham Six.

Ridiculous as the rules were, a loop-hole meant that we were allowed to hear what Sinn Fein (the political arm of the IRA) had to say, but we could not hear them spoken by a member of the political party. Generally what this meant was the words were read by an actor with a plummy Home Counties accent, but the ludicrousness of the situation was highlighted here, on The Day Today:

This next song actually mentions bombing in Birmingham, although it means it in the “not going down to well at a gig” sense, rather than the more literal interpretation:

In these times of Tiers and Lockdown, I’m not sure we’ll get any better advice than to ‘start drinking til we’re blind’ (again, metaphorically of course – I don’t want any of us to end up in one of those adverts asking people to sponsor a puppy); I know it’s what has got me through writing this post, for a start.

“This mentions Birmingham, Alabama”, offers PhonicPat, and he’s not wrong, it does:

But we’re not quite ready to go trans-Atlantic, because here’s The Robster again:

“I have another one, this time referring to my Devon roots. The nearest city to where I grew up was Exeter – so:”

What I love about IDLES, apart from their records, is that they’re so bloody angry about everything, even their name is in capital letters like they’re shouting that too.

Catchphrase time! Well, if you’re having that, then I’m having this, a song about the nearest city to where I grew up, but where IDLES are VERY ANGRY! about how shit Exeter is, The Long Blondes are just a wee bit disappointed with how dull Peterborough is:

Staying in the UK, here’s Stevie from Charity Chic Music who takes us (much) further Up North:

David Byrne was born in Scotland – Dumbarton to be precise.  So the link is obviously:”

…which not only gets added to the ever-growing pile marked: ‘Must Investigate Further’, it also allows me to include this, which the title obviously references:

Since that also mentions Berlin, we may as well pop over to Europe, y’know, whilst we still can, without having to incorporate a two-week stay in a car park in Kent. Here’s another suggestion from Martin:

Well, this all seems to have got rather gloomy rather quickly. But I have an idea! Let’s pop over to the former capital of Turkey to liven things up a bit:

It became very apparent as I was sifting through the suggestions that there were two cities which featured more than any other, so, after a spot of self-isolation, we’ll pop back to the one in the UK: That London. And first up is another suggestion from Phonic Pat which takes us on a nice little (if expensive) tour of the city:

Here’s Swiss Adam again, quoting lines from the source record:

“…a small city, dark in the day time…”

…and suggesting this absolute shoe-in:

And here’s Martin again with two further capital suggestions:

“For when one is tired of London, one is tired of life, right?” adds Martin. Try telling Alan that:

Obligatory Alan Partridge clip? Tick!

One more from Martin, “…because I love them so…” (me too, mate, me too):

Sticking with Martin’s stream of suggestions, let’s hop over to the other city which seems to be mentioned in song titles more than any other:

“Decidedly not a cover of Ol’ Blue Eyes”, Martin adds. Well no: there’s a more liberal use of the F-word than Sinatra ever committed to record for a start. Plus, without wishing to be pedantic (he says as he is about to do just that), the Sinatra song Martin refers to is actually called Theme from New York, New York, so there was never any real danger of confusion. This next one though, less so:

That’s what being brought up listening to Radio 2 does for you: you remember records like that.

You won’t be surprised to read that I’ve got loads of these, the next of which is by someone who gets a bad rap for being a bit square (I think that’s it; I certainly don’t recall him having done anything unmentionable, apart from Uptown Girl of course), but I think he’s written some absolute corkers, and this is one of them:

New York, here we are, and here’s Odyssey to tell us we fit right in:

When The Strokes released their wonderful and never-bettered debut album Is This It? in 2001 (God, that makes me feel old), there was a difference between the UK and the US release, for the UK release included this, presumably omitted from the US release because it probably wasn’t considered to sit well so close in the wake of 9/11:

Back in time now, to the first record I ever bought, sort of. You can read about that here but in case you can’t be bothered (and if you’ve got this far I can’t blame you for feeling a bit wiped out) here it is:

Remember about seven hours ago, just after The BPA tune, I asked you to remind me to give you a Pet Shop Boys factoid? Well, the time is now: before he worked for Smash Hits magazine (my gateway drug to pop music before I grew up/discovered the NME) Neil Tennant used to work for Marvel Comics, editing out any hint of nipple from the cartoons contained within the pages of the heralded comic book. And that’s not even as funny as the rumour Stuart Maconie made up about him being a fully qualified Rugby League referee.

Anyway, here’s the Pet Shop Boys:

Hold up, Swiss is back with his quoting lyrics and suggesting songs ways:

“Memphis: ‘home of Elvis and the ancient Greeks’”

Leading him here:

And if you’re going to mention Memphis, you either have to include something by a certain Mr Presley (not Reg), or make a joke about being dead on a toilet eating a burger, or post this:

Funnily enough, Mr Simon is going in the opposite direction to Ian Hunter and the Mott the Hoople crew, as suggested by Phonic Pat:

And here’s a group who are considering a move to a completely different part of the US of A:

But as we all know, there’s only one place in America that one should consider moving to:

And that’s where I intended to sign off, were it not for one final suggestion from Martin:

“Oh, and can I add Vegas by Sleeper, just because… well, okay, just because of Louise Wener, really.”

Of course you can: if it doesn’t get cancelled as opposed to being forever rescheduled, I’ll be going to see them perform their debut album Smart, sometime, along with this morning’s postees The Bluetones doing the same with their debut album Expecting to Fly:

And that’s yer lot, except to reveal the actual next record in the actual Chain, which nobody suggested.

Here’s the link: “Talking Heads had a female bassist. So did…

Which just leaves me to ask for your suggestions for songs which link to 1979 by The Smashing Pumpkins, to be submitted via either the Comments function on this page, or if you prefer anonymity that you ultimately won’t be afforded, by email to dubioustaste26@gmail.com

More soon.

Rant O’Clock

Back when the last Labour leadership battle was on, I tried to officially join the party, for the princely sum of £3, so that I could vote for Jeremy Corbyn.

I say “tried” because they rejected my application on the grounds that they didn’t think I was a registered voter at my current address, despite me having been for a few years prior to the vote; indeed since living at my current address I’d voted in a General Election, in the EU Referendum, various council elections, and the vote about proportional representation. But, hey, if he didn’t want my support, no big shakes.

In a way – in fact, in three ways – this was a blessing in disguise.

  1. I was £3.00 richer
  2. My conscience is clear now that my support for Corbyn is utterly revoked, and
  3. I would have had to make a confession which would undoubtedly have led to me being expelled from the party.

For in the recent EU elections, for the first time in my life, I didn’t vote Labour. I voted Lib Dem, purely on the basis that they were one of the parties whose position on Brexit is explicitly clear.

Of course, Alistair Campbell – former “spin doctor” for Tony Blair, and a fully paid-up member of the Labour Party – wasn’t quite so lucky. He announced that he had voted the same way as I, and was promptly ejected from the party.

Now, this is a bit rich, isn’t it? Especially when you have the likes of Kate Hoey practically joined at the hip with Nigel Farage, who are allowed to (ironically) remain. Or that a blind eye is turned to the oh-so many Labour members who have been accused of anti-Semitism.

There were – you’ll be surprised to learn – a couple of other things which annoyed me about the media coverage and analysis of the EU elections and the council elections a couple of weeks earler.

Firstly, that my vote for the Lib Dems was a “protest vote”. No, it wasn’t. It was a vote for a political party with whom I agree on the matter of Brexit. If Labour had said that they opposed the idea, instead of trying to keep a foot in each camp and appease all, then I wouldn’t have switched allegiances.

Secondly, the council elections – where the Tories lost 1269 seats (but, admittedly, still held the majority), and where Labour lost 63, UKIP lost 36, but the Lib Dems (+676), the Greens (+185) – was portrayed as the electorate telling the government to “get on with Brexit”. No it wasn’t. It showed a clear resurgance in the two parties who have categorically stated that they’re against Brexit happening at all.

Thirdly, the EU election results being described as “a massive surge” towards The Brexit Party. No it wasn’t. Sure, they won the most seats, with the highest percentage of the vote. But: look at UKIP’s share. For whilst The Brexit Party won 31.6% of the vote – 29 seats – whilst UKIP lost 24.2% – 24 seats. I think it’s safe to say the other 7.4% are more likely to have swapped allegiances from Conservative to Brexit Party than to have come from anywhere else.

So, it’s fairly safe to say that there hasn’t been a massive swing towards The Brexit Party – it was their first election, so whatever happened was going to be an improvement on last time – rather all of UKIPs voters deserted them and a few Tories shifted their allegiance.

And then look at the two parties who explicitly oppose Brexit: the Lib Dems (20.34% of the vote, up 13.4%) and the Greens (12.1% of the vote, up 4.2%). Add those two percentages together: 32.44%. So that’s more support for the two Remain parties combined than for the one Brexit Party (for I don’t think you can call Labour or the Conservatives one or the other…at the moment…Tory leader elections pending…but more of that another time.)

So looking at the EU elections – which, traditionally, I accept, is the time when protest votes are likely as they’re not really considered to be important (which is half the problem, but never mind) – what we can say is that there was a resurgance in the two obviously Remain parties, and that The Brexit Party stole all of UKIP’s votes and a few others from here and there.

The other thing we can say is that yes, whilst The Brexit Party won 31.6% of the vote, the turnout was very low: 37% of the UK population bothered to vote, which is quite some way down from the 72.2% who voted in the referendum back in 2016. And what that means is that in the referendum, Leave got 17,410,742 votes, and in the EU elections considerably less (I’ll admit, I’ve tried to find this figure, but my head is swimming with numbers, but it’s less, right…?). Which isn’t quite the same, now is it?

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to The Revolution (rebranded).

These are all, of course, statistics and facts. And I, more than anyone, knows that these are to be mistrusted. For I used the following quote in pretty much every essay I ever wrote when I was at college:

There are lies, damned lies, and statistics – Mark Twain

Or, to put it another way:

The other thing that we can say is this: people vote for Nigel Farage, no matter what. Unless it’s for him being an MP, of course (*coughs* defeated seven times *coughs*.)

And I find this utterly baffling.

See, to me, Farage is nothing more than an opportunistic ex-banker bully boy, spouting vile rhetoric supposedly in the name of a love of his country.

And then you look at the detail, and it doesn’t take too long because there is no detail.

The Brexit Party has no manifesto. So other than “We must leave the EU” it has no other policies. Nothing. Zip. Which means that in the unthinkable event that he ever gets anywhere near anything even slightly resembling power, he can do whatever he wants, because he never promised anything.

And, although it calls itself The Brexit Party, it’s not a political party. You can’t join it. But what you can do is support it, by giving Farage £25.

And I say Farage gets the £25 rather than The Brexit Party because Farage is the self-appointed leader, the sole beneficiary.

And as an unelected leader, he has already said that he can’t be got rid of.

We used to have a word for people like that.

And, whilst we’re on the matter of funding, let’s not forget that Farage is already being investigated by the EU Commission for the financial arrangements he has with Aaron Banks. Financial arrangements which Farage initially denied existed, then back-tracked when Banks confirmed they did, and which Farage then claimed he didn’t have to declare to the EU (which he did; under the (ART4) MEP’s Code of Conduct, he must declare support for political activity, or (ART5) gifts above 150 euros within 30 days). Not that it matters, because if found guilty, it’ll likely end up in either a fine – which Banks will pay – or a ban from EU – which, given he never turns up anyway, won’t be that much of a choker either.

The man is a cad, a bounder, a charlatan, a liar. And those are the nicest words I could choose.

And so it was with some trepidation that I awaited the local election results from my hometown of Peterborough this week. I can’t say I held out much hope: until very recently it’s been Tory through and through, and the one time in living memory (ok, in my memory) that it votes Labour, the MP in question goes and gets herself imprisoned for lying about who was driving her car when it got some speeding points, kicked out of the party, instigating the election.

Things did not look promising.

And to my delight – yes, even though I voted Lib Dem in the EU elections – Labour won, narrowly beating the Brexit Party candidate into second place. I would have been so sad if the town where I grew up had gifted the country with it’s first Brexit Party MP.

Want some stats? I got ’em:

  • in the 2016 referendum, Peterborough voted Leave, 61% to 39%
  • this time, Labour got 31% of the vote, whilst second-placed Brexit Party got 29%
  • the turnout was 48.4%, down from 67.5% in the 2017 General Election
  • in that election, Labour beat the Conservatives by 607 votes
  • on Thursday, they won by 683 votes
  • that’s an increased share of a lessened turn-out

I’ll make no bones about it, I think that Donald Trump waddling into the UK this week and announcing that post-Brexit negotiations would have to have the NHS “on the table” had an effect. Those who trust Trump in the UK are in the minority, and those who see Farage cosying up to him really should be alarmed by this.

For Farage, lest we forget, doesn’t agree with the NHS. No, he wants to scrap it with an insurance based system, like…oh, oh, coincidence alert…like they have in the USA!

Have a look at this, courtesy of our friends over at @LedByDonkeys.

Strange, isn’t it, how Farage is getting financial backing from a man who owns insurance companies….?

And if you need an illustration as to quite what switching to private helathcare means, read this, written after 2018’s Manchester bombings (and try not to let the writer describing themselves as a “social injustice warrior” detract from the point they make):

What was funny, though, was when it looked like The Brexit Party was going to win, Farage turned up in Peterborough to give his gloating speech to the cameras, only to arrive and find things not going entirely to plan….

Which reminded me of this GIF:

Anyway. I’ve ranted patiently explained enough. Here’s some tunes:

The Long Blondes – Peterborough

And yes, I know I only posted this under similar circumstances recently, but nothing’s changed (by which I mean: I’ve not thought of anything more pertinent to post):

Public Enemy – Don’t Believe The Hype

Here endeth the sermon.

More soon.

I Am The Mouth

Shortly after I came up with the idea for what is now a hypothetical Indie night (just to recap: this was to play the songs by Indie acts which got forgotten in favour of more established dance floor fillers; indie music for the discerning palate, if you will) I  met up with my older brother.

We had a few drinks and discussed, first and foremost, music; we’re a long way down the road from when we were kids and we’d rather expose ourselves on the school bus than admit to liking the same music as our sibling.

In fact, for the past twenty five to thirty years or so, we’ve both given each other tips and nudges (and the occasional mp3 or burnt CD, which we later went on to purchase from a reputable dealer) about who we were listening to and who we thought the other would like.

Anyway, in this conversation, we started talking about bands who most people (and I don’t mean you, discerning reader, of course) hadn’t heard of, but who had obviously influenced an artist who was very much “of the moment”.

So I decided to extend the remit of the “I Am The Mouth” night (which has never happened) to include songs which had clearly made an impact on current acts.

And here are the two we were talking about. First, C86 stalwarts, The Shop Assistants:

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The Shop Assistants – Safety Net

and then, The Long Blondes:

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The Long Blondes – Once and Never Again

Hmmm. Now I listen to it again, that chord progression over the chorus reminds me of something else…

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The Smiths – I Want the One I Can’t Have

…which of course was borrowed for this Top Ten’er that I deftly avoided posting recently:

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The Housemartins – Happy Hour

More soon, don’t you know.

The Chain #35

Blimey is that the time?

Alright, alright, alright, already, we’re back, a week later than intended, but restored back to our rightful place on a Wednesday night. This was of course always the plan come 2017, and has absolutely nothing to do with Spurs getting knocked out of the Champions League and into the UEFA Europa League, where they’ll be playing their games on Thursday nights.

So those of you with exceptionally long memories will recall that at the end of The Chain #34,we were left with Malcom McLaren’s “Buffalo Gals” as the record to link to, and as usual the suggestions were many, varied and fell into on of a couple of different categories. They also include a veritable menagerie of different animals; not just buffalos, but cows, crawfish, ducklings, swans, an elk, a moose (and probably a mouse), an ostrich, and cartoon cats, canaries and flying squirrels. We’ll hear from (or mention in passing) all of these, whilst also visiting a sex shop and engaging in some Morris Dancing. Now that’s what I call fulfilling my diversity quota.

And before we go any further, I should point out that one of you gets very close indeed to guessing what the next record in The Chain – right act, wrong song, as is (apparently) so often muttered from the judges’ chairs on The X Factor.

So let’s kick things off by working through the more obvious bunch first – those that linked to “Buffalo”, and even these can be split down into two further sub-categories: those that link to Buffalo (the animal) and those that link to Buffalo (the place).

First up, is Jules from Music From Magazines who, bless him, doesn’t seem to want to let the Christmas feeling go just yet:

“…just one last go at a Christmas/NYE drunk sing along…”

Jules, you sent me this on January 3rd, mate.

“…’Go Buffalo’ is a cracking number by Like Swimming…”

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Like Swimming – Go Buffalo

“Someone who doesn’t like swimming is Sir Nose D’Voidoffunk as featured in ‘Aqua Boogie’ by Parliament, the 12″ version of which was only pressed on one side (no B side to enjoy once and then ignore ).”

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Parliament – Aqua Boogie (12″ Version)

Hold on, he’s not done yet:

“Now this is memory based, but a famous artist, entrepreneur and kiddy fiddler (hell he tried to entice my kid brother into his Roller on the Kings Road I later found out) wanted to release only single sided 45s on his UK label.”

It’s usually at about this point that I would start glancing round the bus to see if I have any chance of escape from the conversation.

“Jonathan King discovered Genesis with Peter Gabriel as a member which can only go to one place…”

I dunno about you lot, but the suspense is killing me.

“The The’s ‘Angel Of Deception’

Only joking.”

I do the jokes. And I love the album that’s from, although some of the songs haven’t really aged all that well:

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The The – Angels of Deception

So where’s the one other place that we can go to……?

“Robbie Williams – ‘Angels'”

Oh. Goodie.

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Robbie Williams – Angels

I can’t really scoff at this. Sitting in the bar at a family wedding around twenty years ago, I led the gathering in a heart-felt rendition of this. About seven times. What little hair I have left still bristles at the memory.

My favourite Robbie moment, however, was this, when he made a guest appearance in the BBC studios at the football World Cup 1998, and was ceremoniously taken down a peg or two by Martin O’Neill:

Anyway, let’s rewind, and start back at the beginning. Here, providing not only the first suggestion I received, but getting us going with a Double Linker, it’s The Great Gog:

“Buffalo is an animal that is farmed for its milk, as is a cow. The Wonder Stuff had a sizeable hit with ‘Size Of A Cow’. It just so happens that their lead singer is [popular rhyming slang] Miles Hunt who shares a surname with a racing driver who (rather tidily for this link) won the F1 Drivers Championship driving for McLaren in 1976.”

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The Wonder Stuff – The Size of a Cow

Next up is The Robster from Is This The Life? who suggests:

“I’m going for a very easy (and slightly obvious) one – ‘Guilty Girls’ by Buffalo Tom. No cryptic, convoluted link needed. They’re one of my favourite bands and that’s good enough for me!”

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Buffalo Tom – Guilty Girls

Mine too, Rob, though I have to admit to kinda losing track of them after the double-whammy of “Let Me Come Over” and “Big Red Letter Day”, so a nod towards some of their later stuff is much appreciated. (It’s as I add their name to the Tags and find their name doesn’t auto-enter that I find myself thinking: how the hell have I never featured anything from them before? I know I was going to post “Tailights Fade” a couple of months ago, but was beaten to it by the When You Can’t Remember Anything boys nicking in first. They’ll nick anything those two; you watch, they’ll be starting up a thread where they invite people to suggest records next.) (Psst! – you know I’m kidding, right chaps? And you know that because I’ve already suggested a couple over at your place.)

Speaking of obvious choices, as The Robster was, and since I mentioned When You Can’t Remember Anything, here’s Badger from the very same blog, with one of the three suggestions that I suspected we’d get this week:

“The obvious route is to ‘Buffalo Stance’ by Neneh Cherry.”

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Neneh Cherry – Buffalo Stance

And here’s the second one that I expected, from Alyson over at What’s It All About, Alfie?

“From Buffalo Gals to…. “

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Bob Marley & The Wailers – Buffalo Soldier

The third other one that I was expecting to get mentioned, wasn’t, although babylotti came pretty close, as you’ll see in the fullness of time. So I guess, I’d better suggest it:

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Buffalo Springfield – For What It’s Worth

That song has had various segments of it lifted, quoted, or sampled on many different records over the years, one of my favourites is this, which I seem to associate with a break-dancing Transformer and I’m not sure why: was it in the video? Or used in an advert? Or did I eat far too much cheese before bed one night….?

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Les Rythmes Digitales – (Hey You) What’s That Sound?

A change of pace now. No great explanation from Rol of My Top Ten this week:

“Just two suggestions this week. I was going to try for just one, but I can’t decide between the two below:”

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Kathleen Edwards – Buffalo

and

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The Dead Weather – I Cut Like A Buffalo

In fact, many of the suggestions were pretty brief, once you take out all of the most welcome Christmas and New Year messages, along with all of the very kind things many of you said about this place which I’m far too modest to post here. For example, here’s Swiss Adam from Bagging Area:

“In ‘Burning Lights’, Joe Strummer sings ‘…you are the last of the buffalo…’ and it’s a wilderness years highlight so I’ll nominate that please.”

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Joe Strummer – Burning Lights

Over to George now, with a suggestion which comes pretty close to winning the Comment Showboat Award of the week:

“Buffalos have horns, a bony structure on the top of their heads. Another animal with a bony structure on its head is the elk (although they have antlers, but they are still bony), and the elk is also known as a moose. And from my childhood I can recall a lyric featuring the word “moose”, namely “there’s a moose loose aboot this hoose”, which is one of the few lyrics in a song by Lord Rockingham ‘s X1. I think the song is called ‘Hoots Mon’. And I bet everyone will recognise the tune once they play it.”

There’s only one way to find out:

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Lord Rockingham’s XI – Hoots Mon!

Could I ask my friends North of the Border to clarify something for us, he’s actually saying ‘mouse’ isn’t he….? Not that I’m going to disqualify George’s suggestion, because it definitely sounds like ‘moose’.

George included a link to a video clip to his suggestion, something which made him smile. You know where to go to find that. Instead, in case any of you in the UK were wondering quite where you recognise that song from, I would think it’s maybe from this:

Look out. Jules is back:

“Thanks George for the moose link! Casting my mind back to the cartoon series ‘Rocky and Bullwinkle’ about a flying squirrel and a moose (yes, I know) takes one inevitability to ROCKY with some great tunes. Let’s move on to the star Sylvester Stallone.

Sylvester’s work makes me feel mighty real but I preferred his work with Tweety Pie.”

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Mel Blanc – I Taut I Taw A Puddy Tat

Over now to Martin, who I think has posted here before, but forgive me Martin, I’m a little rusty. If this is your first time, then we’d all like to offer you a warm Chain Gang welcome, if not, then we’d all like to offer you a warm Chain Gang welcome back.

Anyway, here’s Martin’s suggestion:

“…On the basis that ‘Buffalo Gals’ is a perfect anagram of ‘Bagful of Las’ [and it is, I’ve checked], can I pitch for the ‘There She Goes’ by The La’s, please? Especially if I promise not to resort to anagrams to often…”

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The La’s – There She Goes

Just one more obvious-ish Buffalo link, and it’s another from me. I was about to write that this was one of my favourite records from the past couple of years, until I checked and found out it was released in 2010, and so now I just feel very, very old indeed:

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Avi Buffalo – What’s In It For

Okay, here comes Dirk from Sexyloser and he’s gonna get all geographic on your asses:

“Loads of great musicians come from Buffalo in the state of New York, located on the eastern shores of Lake Erie at the head of the Niagara River: I trust it’s a fantastic place to go … I mean, I’ve never been there and certainly don’t want to go, but either way …! Where was I? Ah yes, musicians include John Lombardo and Mary Ramsey out of 10,000 Maniacs, so their ‘Anthem For Doomed Youth’ should be fitting, right?”

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10,000 Maniacs – Anthem For Doomed Youth

“Also Buffalo is a twin town to Dortmund, Germany and I’m sure you all know that Phillip Boa out of Phillip Boa and The Voodoo Club come from Dortmund. If memory serves correctly, he was featured before, but not with ‘Ostrich’, my favourite song of theirs: does that count? I hope it does….”

He has featured here before, Dirk, but you’re right, not with that song, so here you go:

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Phillip Boa & The Voodoo Club – Ostrich (Love is Not The Same)

Okay, something a little more…erm…traditional next. This suggestion comes from Jonny, who is definitely a first time poster here, so please all offer him a warm Chain Gang welcome.

The reason I know this is Jonny’s first time posting here, is because he’s an old mate of mine; we went to the same school although, inevitably, I’m a few years older than him so we didn’t know each other then, but we used to work together in the kitchen of a greasy motorway café masquerading as a family restaurant back in the late 1980s/early 1990s. I worked there every holiday throughout college, and ultimately for a year after I graduated, and it Jonny and I forged a great friendship. He was into photography and I enjoyed writing; together we cobbled together a spoof corporate newsletter called “The Crappy Eater” (which gives you a pretty good clue as to the identity of the place we worked in), where we basically took the piss out of and made up shit about our work colleagues. We “accidentally” left it laying around in the staff room one day and…well, some people found it funny, but some of the old dears who worked there were definitely not impressed. Somewhere, buried in a box, somewhere in my flat, I think I have a couple of the articles we wrote. I doubt many of you will be interested as you won’t know the people we’re winding up, but Jonny: if I can find them, I’ll email you copies.

Anyway, one of the reasons that Jonny and I got on so well, apart from the fact that we were amazingly cool gods of the burger griddle, was that we both shared similar music tastes of an indie-ish nature, and it was with Jonny that I ventured to London’s Brixton Academy back in 1992 to see Sonic Youth play promoting their “Dirty” album, ably supported by Pavement and Huggy Bear. Long term readers may recall me writing about it here a long time ago.

So when Jonny sent me a suggestion, I was expecting it would be a really cool blast from the past. I was half right: it was definitely a blast from the past, but also most definitely not really cool.

Over to you Jonny (and I should add, I have had to edit this because I’m not all that familiar with the libel laws so I thought it best I erred on the side of caution):

“So ‘Buffalo Gals’ takes me here (I know the connection is loose and somewhat obscure, but hear me out)” [S’okay, Jonny, I like my connections like I like my women: loose and obscure]

“…back to being a 13 year old, purple legged, lanky piece of shit who was forced on a yearly basis to take part in the school’s Country Dancing display…” [He was quite lanky. I suspect he may have played the part of the Maypole]

“Those Buffalo Gals going round the outside, for me, conjured up images of a scantily clad maths teacher I quite liked the look of prancing round my bed wooing me in for my first sexual experience. Sadly for me, that never happened.

My brief day/wet dream would then be shattered by my then form tutor kicking out the jams with his ‘Molly Dance’. Terrible song. Terrible timing.

But somehow that fucking ‘Molly Dance’ found its way into my record collection and remained there for many a year until in a moment of skint madness I flogged the entire collection of over 700 pieces of carefully chosen vinyl masterpieces for about the amount of a gas bill.”

Anyway, crowbar that in your chain and pull it.”

700 pieces of carefully chosen vinyl masterpieces…and this:

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Ramblin’ Rod & His New Morris Van – (I Can Do The) Molly Dance

If I may fill in a couple of the blanks: the eponymous Ramblin’ Rod was in fact the Morris Dancing alter-ego of Jonny’s form tutor. And the Morris Van bit is “…a joke, that’s short for ‘vanguard'”, said Ramblin’ Rod in what was probably his only ever interview, which apparently took place at a party where “where Rod and friends were wassailing by dipping buttered toast in cider, then sticking the resulting “soldiers” in every tree trunk they could find.” Sounds like one hell of a party, right?

Before we get into the other big category – links to Malcom McLaren – let’s round up the other suggestions.

Here’s Rigid Digit from Stuff & Nonsense:

“Taking the ‘Girls’ theme [actually, it’s Gals, but since I made the same error in The Chain #34 I’ll let it slide] – a celebration of Girls everywhere; a wonderful piece of late 70s, possibly un-PC, Music Hall-esque nonsense:”

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Sailor – Girls, Girls, Girls

Yeh, it’s definitely not PC, but it’s no (previously featured) “Some Girls” by Racey is it?

There, that didn’t take long, did it?

Time for some Malcolm McLaren links, I think. Here’s Alyson, back for another go:

“Malcolm McLaren also released Double Dutch from the same album and that led me to think of Ray and Anita, that Dutch duo who were ’90s dance outfit 2 Unlimited. How about a bit of ‘No Limit’…?”

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2 Unlimited – No Limit

Given how many times the word “No” features in that song, I’ve always found it a little weird that it begins with Ray (I assume it’s not Anita) pleading to hear us say “Yeah!”.

Always reminds me of Jim Trott, that song. You know, Jim Trott, right?

Hold on, I feel a catchphrase coming on. Cue fanfare.

Well, if you’re going to suggest that (a record which features the word “No” many, many times), then I’m going to suggest this lot, back for a second airing this week:

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The Wonder Stuff – No, For The 13th Time

Back to McLaren links, and back to George:

“From Malcolm McLaren to Malcolm McDowell, he of Clockwork Orange, to The Fall and their 6 min 20 second masterpiece ‘Kurious Oranj'”

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The Fall – Kurious Oranj

Readers of a certain age will remember (a different) Curious Orange from Lee and Herring’s “This Morning with Richard Not Judy” show; this was the best (quality, if not necessarily the funniest) clip I could find:

Anyway. Where were we? Ah yes: McLaren and his numerous links. Here to add to them is The Swede from Unthought of, though, somehow:

“I know that for a while Malcolm McLaren managed quite a famous band, though for the life of me I can’t remember their name 🙂 Instead I’ll go down the producer route. Trevor Horn produced ‘Buffalo Gals’ and among his many (and varied) other credits is Belle and Sebastian’s ‘Dear Catastrophe Waitress’, from which I’d like to suggest ‘ Step Into My Office, Baby’.”

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Belle & Sebastian – Step Into My Office, Baby

Tailgating on the back of that suggestion, here’s Charity Chic from Charity Chic Music with another short but sweet entry:

“The band that The Swede was referring to was clearly Bow Wow Wow so ‘I Want Candy’ please”

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Bow Wow Wow – I Want Candy

Much as I love that version (and I really do), this – the original, I think – shades it for me:

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The Strangeloves – I Want Candy

As I’m writing this on Wednesday evening, after Trump’s first speech, and after a load of new salacious rumours began circulating about him, I wondered if I’d be able to get through this post without making reference to it. I reckon if I can get passed a band called The Strangeloves without making a joke, I’ll have done well.

Ah well. Guess I blew it.

Back to McLaren, and here’s babylotti, who’s taking us on a trip over to New York:

“From Malcolm Mclaren, manager of New York Dolls for a minimal time, leads me to David Johansen. I’ll suggest Wreckless Crazy from him…”

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David Johansen – Wreckless Crazy

“…which links me to Johnny Thunders. I’m going to suggest his version of Crawfish with Patti Palladin…”

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Johnny Thunders & Patti Palladin – Crawfish

“…and my last link, after the disastrous year for celebrity deaths I feel I have to go for ‘You Can’t Put Your Arms Around a Memory’ by Ronnie Spector with Joey Ramone.”

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Ronnie Spector (feat Joey Ramone) – You Can’t Put Your Arms Around a Memory

Of course, the McLaren-managed band that you’ve all done exceptionally well not to mention, but which my brother would never speak to me again if I didn’t, are the Sex Pistols, so here’s one which is by no means one of their finest moments, but it’s one which we’ve both got a bit of a soft spot for:

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Sex Pistols – Silly Thing

But undoubtedly, the best suggestion of the week, the Comment Showboat of choice, came from Alex G from We Will Have Salad:

“About ten years ago, there was an ITV reality show called “The Baron”, the premise being that three celebrities attempted to curry favour in a little coastal village in Aberdeenshire in order to be elected as the new Baron of Troup. The show was a complete damp squib and buried in a late night slot, so there’s no reason for anyone to recall it, really. The only reason *I* remember it is that I happen to live close to the village where it was filmed, and a few of my friends appeared in it.

Getting to the point, the three celebrities flown in were Mike “Runaround” Reid (who won, and then almost immediately snuffed it), Suzanne Shaw from Hear’Say, and… Malcolm McLaren. See, there was some relevance to all of this. On those grounds I would have suggested Mike Reid’s reading (or reiding) of “The Ugly Duckling”, but I think that should really have linked to the last record in the chain rather than the current on, so…”

Whoa there cowboy! That’s a good enough reason for me to post what is not only the Comment Showboat of the Week, but is also the Cheesiest Record of the Week (and since we’ve already featured 2 Unlimited, that’s no mean feat):

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Mike Reid – The Ugly Duckling

That bit in brackets on the record label is a bit harsh, isn’t it?

Anyway, as you were Alex; you were about to proffer your actual suggestion:

“… so bearing in mind there’s no such thing as a guilty pleasure [there isn’t, there really isn’t, though sometimes you lot really test that theory], let’s have Hear’Say’s Betty Boo-penned signature hit ‘Pure And Simple’ instead.”

Otherwise known as “The song where it looks like someone’s lighting their farts in the video”:

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Hear’Say – Pure & Simple

And in case you think that’s the cheesiest record of the week, you’re wrong: as Alex G says, it was written by Betty Boo which automatically makes it one of the best records of the week. So there.

Anyway, the aforementioned Miss Shaw was at one time the latest squeeze of serial philanderer and chicken in a basket entertainer Darren Day, which leads me to this:

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Hazel O’Connor – D-Days

Uh oh. Jules has climbed back on board. Quick everybody, avoid eye contact, stare at your copy of the Metro, pretend to make a phone call:

“Malcolm McLaren used to run a boutique on the King’s Road with Vivienne Westwood it was called SEX, most of the sex shops I used to frequent [Jules – have you ever heard the term “over-sharing”…?] mostly sold gentlemen’s magazines and ‘marital aids’ aka vibrators. Not the punk band but the American slang for a vibrator Steely Dan…”Deacon Blues”:

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Steely Dan – Deacon Blues

“…which as it happens contains the line ‘they call Alabama the crimson tide’. Crimson Tide of course is a fine film about a Russian/USA standoff… [no comparisons to be made with anything going on in world news there then…] …so:”

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The Clash – Ivan Meets G.I. Joe

Mention of Vivienne got me thinking of other famous Westwood’s, and the first one that sprang to mind was former Radio 1 and 1Xtra hip-hop DJ and host of the UK version of Pimp My Ride, Tim Westwood, who happens to be the son of the former Bishop of Peterborough, the Right Reverend Bill Westwood. And since I grew up in and around that fine cathedral city, this seems appropriate:

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The Long Blondes – Peterborough

Which should be the end, but George suggested this which, following a year of so many celebrity deaths, seemed an apt way to finish things off this week:

“Buffalo Gals was released in 1982. As was ‘Wham Rap!’ by Wham. (I find myself very ,very sad at George Michael’s death). I bought this in 1982, still have it, and still think it’s a toptastic pop song, it’s impossible to sit still when this plays.”

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Wham – Wham Rap!

Time to wrap things up then, and let’s find out what the next record in The Official Chain was:

“Produced by Malcolm McLaren were…”

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35. Bow Wow Wow – C30 C60 C90

Oh go on then, half a bonus point to Charity Chic for guessing the band, if not the song.

So, your suggestions please, via the Comments section below, for records that you can link to Bow Wow Wow’s “C30 C60 C90”, and don’t forget to explain the link in your suggestion.

See you next week (more soon).

Peterborough, So Much to Answer For

One of my oldest (by which I mean long-serving) and bestest most lovely friends, whose influence on my musical tastes will be documented here soon enough (maybe even in 2016!), has managed to gazump me by sending me both Christmas and New Year best wishes before I sent them to him. Which, frankly, just makes me look slack.

What’s a guy to do? Dedicate a post to him, here that’s what.

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The Long Blondes – Peterborough

Oh go on then, seeing as it’s you:

Oh, and this:

Love ya, Blanty. I can never thank you enough.

More soon.