Happy 50th, Shit Elvis!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Jesus & Mary Chain – Some Candy Talking

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

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Squeeze – Another Nail in My Heart

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

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

But I also remember the night that changed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Gene – Fill Her Up

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

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

I buckled up.

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

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

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Echo & The Bunnymen – The Game

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

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Gomez – Get Myself Arrested

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

And then there was the Space Dust.

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

Spacedust

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

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

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

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

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Manic Street Preachers – Elvis Impersonator: Blackpool Pier

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

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

Until…

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

She shook the pint glass.

“You see my show?” she said.

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

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

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

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

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The Cramps – Naked Girl Falling Down the Stairs

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

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

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The Vines – Ride

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

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

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

I got some funny looks in that bar.

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

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Roxy Music – Do The Strand

…but nothing of any interest happened on The Strand.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Los Campesinos! – You! Me! Dancing!

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

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

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

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

Including the groom.

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

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

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

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

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

“If Elvis sang at her wedding reception!”

Silence.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Elvis Presley – Love Me Tender

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

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

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

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

Big mistake.

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

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

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

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

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

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

He would have easily caught me if I tried.

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

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

All your fault, Big Brother.

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

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

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The Pogues – Lullaby of London

…although perhaps, this is more appropriate:

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Terry Scott – My Brother

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

More soon.

A Drinking Song

For what I imagine will be fairly obvious reasons, tonight’s post will not be about football or politics.

Instead, as this appears to be my 600th post (how did that happen??), something to raise a glass to and a voice along with on a Friday night.

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about how I’ve never really been fond of musicals. It’s not the songs: I love The Proclaimers, but hated the jukebox movie “Sunshine on Leith”; I quite like some ABBA records, but have no intention whatsoever of ever sitting through “Mama Mia!” (unless I have it on x30).

But the other day, I heard that the creator of US drama series “The Wire”, David Simon, along with his  wife, crime novelist Laura Lippman, and fellow thriller writer George Pelecanos,  is writing a musical based upon the music of The Pogues. Spider Stacey is apparently involved in the creative process somehow too.  I have to admit, I’m intrigued and maybe a little tempted too.

In case you’re unfamiliar with the show, for a time it was touted as the greatest drama series ever made (that was just after “The Sopranos” stopped being described as such, and right before “Breaking Bad” gained the top spot). A few years ago, when I found myself unemployed, my brother loaned me the box set. I, of course, ignored it until I started working again, at which point I suddenly found myself binge-watching it every evening when I got home.

I’ll assume you know the premise and plot of “The Wire” by now, but suffice to say if you’ve watched it, you’ll not be surprised to learn of this new Simon/Pogues link, since one of their songs features in a couple of episodes of the show.

This one, from the first ever record I bought by The Pogues:

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The Pogues – The Body of an American

Some of you will know that several of my blogging peers are meeting up this weekend: a Bloggers Summit, if you will. Kind of like “Avengers Assemble”, only with less CGI and many, many more references to obscure UK Subs’ B-sides.

I was invited to attend (and was immensely flattered to have been, I must say) but sadly was unable to make it.

So, to all of them, this one’s for you. I hope it goes just like the words to the song:

“The men all started telling jokes
And the women they got frisky
By five o’clock in the evening
Every bastard there was piskey.”

Have a great weekend, make sure you down a drink or seven for me.

More soon.

Late Night Stargazing

So, I got a ticket to see Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds in September. A seat up in the Gods, but nevertheless, a seat. I’m excited already.

I can’t justify posting two consecutive Nick Cave songs on this thread (actually, I could if I really put my mind to it), so instead, here’s a song I mentioned in passing a couple of weeks ago, which Mr Cave covered, along with the gentleman singing it here:

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The Pogues – Rainy Night in Soho

More soon.

What Are They Marching For?

***With apologies, I appear to have got Friday and Saturday’s posts mixed up, and posted them the wrong way round. This was supposed to have been posted yesterday, and yesterday’s today. No offence or disrespect intended***

On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918, an agreement was signed between the Allies of World War I and Germany, effectively bringing the war to an end.

It’s a timely reminder that peace is possible.

This is one of the most moving songs about war that I know of:

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The Pogues – The Band Played Waltzing Matilda

More soon.

The Chain #14

Ok, folks, here we go with your weekly dose of virtual interaction, a day later than I promised. So, I’m unreliable. Guess you’ll just have to put up with that.

To refresh your memories, last week I asked you for records you can link to The 101’ers “Keys To Your Heart”.

First out of the traps this week was CC, with this suggestion:

“Keys to my Heart to Heart of Glass by Blondie to (I love the Sound of Breaking Glass) by Nick Lowe off Jesus of Cool to She Left Me for Jesus by Hayes Carll”

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Hayes Carll – She Left Me For Jesus

Never heard that before. Not bad at all, cheers CC.

Next up, The Swede:

“Double link alert! The 101ers were so called because the band lived together in a squat at 101 Walterton Road in Maida Vale. Assuming Walterton Road ran odd numbers on one side of the street and evens across the road, one of their neighbouring houses would have been Number 99. So how about ‘Other 99’ by Big Audio Dynamite, fronted by (here’s that second link folks) Joe Strummer’s future partner in crime, Mick Jones.”

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Big Audio Dynamite – Other 99

Good stuff. I have to admit pretty much all of B.A.D.’s output passed me by, bar “E=MC2” so it’s good to have a pointer for where to start in the event that I ever muster up enough enthusiasm to investigate further.

Next up, is George, who writes:

“In binary code 101 is equivalent to the number 5 in the decimal system. There was a pop group from the 1980s called Five Star………I’m going to start again………..”

Ah. Okay. We’ll come back to you when you’ve had chance to ponder a while longer.

In the meantime, the mere mention of Five Star brings out a Pavlov’s Dog type reaction in me, but instead of salivating and looking hungry (which are pretty much my default settings anyway), I can’t resist posting this. Yes, again:

Whilst George is a-pondering, here’s The Swede, again:

“I got quite excited for a moment there, thinking that George might suggest ‘Mind Your Own Business’ by Delta 5. Then it all went horribly, horribly wrong.”

It seems The Swede, building upon Swiss Adam’s multiple suggestions last week,  has stumbled upon another way to get more than one record played here: suggest what you thought someone else might have suggested before they’ve actually suggested anything. You’ve got to admire his chops, haven’t you?

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Delta 5 – Mind Your Own Business

Nothing further from George at this point, so while we wait, here’s The Great Gog:

“If you didn’t want the key to someone’s heart, you could always Throw Away The Key (a slightly under-achieving hit for Linx in 1981). The lead singer of Linx was David Grant who enjoyed further solo hits, and a couple of duets with Jaki Graham. That then leads me to Graham Parker, and linking back to heart, The Beating Of Another Heart from 1980’s The Up Escalator.”

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Graham Parker – The Beating of Another Heart

And now George is ready:

“Here goes. 101 in binary is 5. And The Tympany 5 were Louis Jordan’s backing band, and the song Ain’t Nobody Here But Us Chickens” before clarifying: “That’s 101 in binary is 5 in the decimal system. 101 in base 4 is 17 in base 10.” But we all knew that, right?

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Louis Jordan – Ain’t Nobody Here But Us Chickens

I trust you’ll all agree that was worth the wait.

And now, I’m delighted to be able to finish off this week’s suggestions with two first-timers to this mullarkey.

First, we have What’s It All About, Alfie? who writes from the North of Scotland – a country which seems to have more than its fair share of entertaining bloggers – but having had a darn good rummage around their blog I’m none the wiser as to their identity. I think – given a recent post was about Jackie magazines – that the blog is written by a lady. If so, I’m even more pleased because, bar Marie’s suggestion back on The Chain #10, we’re a little light on female contributors. (And if not, ermm…sorry!)

Anyway, here’s their suggestion:

“First thing that came to mind was 808 State – Pacific State, just because they also have a palindrome number (is it still called that if it’s not a word?) in their name.”

Doubtless you’ll all know that the song in question is know under several guises: “Pacific 707”, “Pacific State”, or just plain “Pacific”, (and for completists/pedants, one called “Pacific 808 98”, which is practically a drum and bass remix) but that matters not a jot here since it’s the band name we’re concerned with. So I’ve gone with the Pacific 707 version, partly because we then have two of those pesky numerical palindromes for the price of one, but mostly because it’s the best postable copy I have:

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808 State – Pacific 707

That’s bloody marvellous, isn’t it?

But we’re not done just yet, for finally another suggestion from another lady, who – get this – doesn’t even write, nor has she ever written, her own blog.

“So when my little pigeon brain heard the word keys in the title “Keys to your heart” I immediately thought of a song that features a key quite frequently and is a wonderful camp euro dance classic (if that’s even an official music genre). It just reminds me of dancing with my best friend, Simon in G-A-Y many years ago “The key, the secret” – Urban cookie collective.”

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Urban Cookie Collective – The Key, The Secret

“Quite frequently” is a bit of an understatement, isn’t it?

I have to admit to having a bit of a soft spot for that one too, as it goes.

So, welcome to you both, thanks for joining in, and please feel free to make suggestions in the future. And to any other non-bloggers out there who read this, think of a link then don’t post it for whatever reason, please do: I’d love to hear – and play – your suggestions (and I will, provided the link stands up to scrutiny and I can track down the song in question if I don’t already own it).

Ok, to my own suggestion, and if the 101’ers have got the Keys to Your Heart, then before they can use them, they first need to cross the river to your heart by using the bridge to your heart, which luckily one-hit-wonders WAX built back in 1987:

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WAX – Bridge to Your Heart

And by posting that, I hope I’m proving to any possible contributors that your choice doesn’t have to be good to get posted! (But I bet you’ll all have the chorus to that running round your brain for ages now).

So, to round things up for another week, here’s the official selection, which I love, but which none of us got anywhere near. I’m quite pleased about that, as I love the diversity of your suggestions, so keep them coming, more power to your elbow etc etc etc.

Lifted from their timeless “Rum Sodomy & the Lash” album, here’s The Pogues:

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14. The Pogues – Dirty Old Town

(Sorry George, more Zippyshare-ness for you to contend with)

And the offical reason for that song? “Joe Strummer stood in for Shaun MacGowan as The Pogues’ vocalist on several occasions…” Our reasons, whilst slightly more convoluted, are way better than that, no?

So, your suggestions please, along with your explanation as to how the hell you got there, via the Comments box below, for songs to link to “Dirty Old Town” by The Pogues.

More soon.

Friday Night Music Club

Today is Andrew’s birthday. Andrew is my older/only brother.

For once I don’t have to take international time-zones into consideration to ensure that he reads my birthday wishes on the right day, for this year he’s home from India and back in the UK for a couple of weeks.

To mark the occasion, I’m travelling up to my folks for the weekend, and to inevitably spend Saturday night sitting up and drinking Jack Daniels with him. Often when I go home, I’ll prepare a playlist of stuff to listen to, but often this has to take into consideration what the ‘rents will put up with having to listen to. So I thought this week, I’d post a few songs here which remind me of my Big Bro because…well, he bought (most of) them when we were kids.

As I was choosing the songs to play tonight, it occurred to me that my musical evolution followed a pretty similar path to his. This is hardly surprising since I used to listen to his records in that period before I started buying my own on a regular basis. We both had: a dodgy rock stage, a dodgy pop phase, followed by some semblance of redemption by way of liking something approaching decent indie records (although he had more than a passing Goth phase too).

I’ve talked about some of the records from our shared past before, here and he even wrote about the songs he bought when he was younger here. I’ve tried to avoid the songs played on those posts and focus on the…less cool stuff. For a start, anyway.

(By the way: my file sharing service Cut Pi, seems to be becoming increasingly erratic, and doesn’t seem to recognise some of the mp3s as being mp3s. It’s been doing this for a while and I can’t work out why. Upshot is, some of the links are shared via Zippyshare. Hope they work okay. And George – you got your wish.)

So let’s break these into the aforementioned three sections.

The Rock Stage

Of course, he had bought AC/DC’s seminal 1980 “Back in Black” album, (and later owned copies of “Let There Be Rock” and “If You Want Blood…You Got It!” (an album title I always thought would have been better suited to Kiss or Alice Cooper) but I imagine you all know pretty much every song from that album, so I’ve plumped for this from their 1981 release, which pretty much sums up us at the time, the band, and how the start of tonight’s post is going to go:

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337. AC/DC – For Those About To Rock (We Salute You)

Shortly after we moved into what became the family home throughout our childhood (mid-1970s), our parents converted a part of the loft into what they christened “The Playroom” – which was fine whilst we were kids, when it housed Andrew’s model train set and my Dr Who toys, but a little embarrassing, in the way that teenagers find everything embarrassing, when they would suggest we took any friends who called round up to The Playroom, which by our teens housed a sofa, a TV and a record player.

At first, the record player was one of those old ones, with the arm that came across and held your next record on the spindle whilst the current record played underneath. But soon, Andrew had saved enough cash up to purchase his first stereo system, one of those with a radio, twin tape deck, a space for records to be stored, a silver beast housed in a teak cabinet with a glass door to the front.

This next album made regular appearances on both turntables; I preferred the album’s title tracks, whilst Andrew always loved this one, ironically, I like to think, given he spent 20-odd years in the RAF:

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338. Black Sabbath – War Pigs

Next, a song which he didn’t buy, but every time I hear it I am reminded of those formative years spent listening to records, and in particular one Thursday evening when we had been banished upstairs to watch Top of the Pops, on which this record appeared, and which led to the pair of us leaping up from the sofa and frantically playing air-guitar, in full on foot-on the monitor mode:

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339. Iron Maiden – Run to the Hills

The reason I think I remember that is because it was probably a turning point, where we both admitted to liking the same records as each other. Up until then, we hated, or pretended to, each other’s musical choices – dammit, we pretended to hate each other (that’s what siblings did when they were that age, right?), having many a play fight which spilt over into full on physical violence, as the snooker cue that I broke over his back once attests (Look, he was bigger than me, I was fully entitled to come tooled up, okay?). As does the broken violin bow we had argued over a few years earlier when we had both found ourselves learning the instrument at Junior School. (I know, I know – fights involving violin bows: it’s not exactly “Angela’s Ashes”, is it…?)

(As an aside: my friends Hel and Llyr went to the Reading Festival in 2005 when Iron Maiden head-lined. They watched them, and afterwards reported that the section of the crowd they were in were distinctly non-plussed by the veteran rockers. Lead warbler Bruce Dickinson, attempting to whip the crowd up into a frenzy would call “Do you remember this one…?”; the crown responded as one “Nope!”)

Particularly indicative of our love/hate relationship came one Saturday night in, I guess, the early 80s. Saturday nights were a family night, which we would spend playing records from my Dad’s record collection. As I’ve mentioned on numerous occasions, Dad’s taste is predominantly Country records, but there was/is diversity there: he likes a bit of jazz, some folk, some classical. There was a series of classical albums that he owned, a spin off from a BBC radio programme, called “The World of Your Hundred Best Tunes” (a name I toyed with giving this very blog, until I realised there may be copyright issues). We were categorically not allowed to bring our own records down to play. But my brother figured out a way round this, and got one song – a cover version of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony by the next band from their “Difficult to Cure” album – played. So offended was I that he had been allowed to have one of his songs played, but I hadn’t (as I had no rock covers of classical records) I spent the entirety of the song under the dining room table, kicking and screaming about “how unfair” it was. (“So Unfair” was, I’m reliably informed, mostly anytime my parents watch any Harry Enfield sketch involving Kevin & Perry, practically my catchphrase when I was a teenager. This was just me warming up, I reckon)

Obviously, I’ve mellowed with age. But I’m still not playing “Summertime” by DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince unless someone comes up with a bloody good reason to. And I mean bloody good.

Anyway, I’m not playing the Beethoven cover either; since they’re unlikely to feature again (more than once more) on these pages, I thought I’d plump for the big single from the same album:

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340. Rainbow – I Surrender

Rainbow were, of course, one of the many bands to rise from the ashes of Deep Purple, another band that we begrudgingly admitted to having a shared passion for back then. Again, Big Bro’s record collection featured several of their albums, but the first I recall seeing – and to this day, the only one I’ve ever purchased myself (Cheers Fopp (Cardiff  branch) and your £2.00 shelf!) – was a compilation album called “Deepest Purple”, from which this one is lifted:

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341. Deep Purple – Woman from Tokyo [Single Edit]

And you’ll be relieved to hear, that’s the end of the Rock Stage…

The Pop Phase

…and perhaps less relieved when you see what comes next.

Luckily for you, I’ve talked before – here – about the fact that we both mysteriously somehow came to own our own copies of Billy Joel’s “An innocent Man” album, so I’ll spare you that.

Ditto, I’ve previously posted – here – the two songs from Cyndi Lauper’s “She’s So Unusual” album, which he also owned that are any good (and I’m not going to post “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” as it annoys me even more than the aforementioned “Summertime”)

But here’s a song by a band I’ve never really liked but – and I can say this without fear of correction, as he denies remembering anything from our childhood – I’m pretty sure Andrew joined the fan-club of:

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342. Thompson Twins – Doctor Doctor

Twins, see? And there were three of them. Pfffffft. Funny guys (and a girl). (They were named after the characters from the Tintin cartoons, as everyone knows – The Ed)

Moving swiftly on, to a song which I had completely forgotten about until Brian over at Linear Tracking Lives! posted it a month or so in his wonderful alphabetical trawl through his own record-buying history.

Lifted from her “The Drum is Everything”, much was expected of Carmel and her brand of smoky, jazzy pop, but she feel by the wayside shortly after this was released (although I did pick up one of the singles from the follow-up album, which I’ll feature soon enough, and which utterly tanked):

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343. Carmel – More, More, More

I should at this point talk about the records by groups like The Go-Go’s which he brought back from a summer in America staying with relatives, working on their blueberry farm. Instead, I’m going to post something from an album which contains another of my most disliked pop songs ever by another group I was fairly indifferent to for much of their existence, but with the benefit of hindsight I can see did have some decent pop tunes, particularly in their early 80s synth-pop phase.

But the album Andrew bought by Eurythmics – “Be Yourself Tonight” – does not come from that period. It comes from their just-after-the-synth-pop-phase, and from an album which brought their only UK Number 1, the aforementioned disliked pop song “There Must Be an Angel (Playing With My Heart)” (It’s the over-singing that does my head in). The album spawned two other hits: “Would I Lie To You?”, which I posted recently, and this one, which I’d completely forgotten about until I came to write this, gave it a listen, and decided it’s not too bad at all:

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344. Eurythmics – It’s Alright (Baby’s Coming Back)

But there was one band from his pop period who loomed large. I believe they were the first band he ever saw live (albeit supporting The Police), and, as I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, a band I’ve got a bit of a soft spot for too:

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345. The Alarm – Where Were You Hiding When The Storm Broke?

It was The Alarm more than any other band, I think, that focused my brother’s attentions on records which were…well, let’s say more critically acclaimed shall we?

But first, two more bands that I remember compilation albums appearing amongst his burgeoning record collection. Neither need any introduction:

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346. The Rolling Stones – Get Off Of My Cloud

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347. The Jam – Down in the Tube Station at Midnight

I don’t recall which of these albums first surfaced on The Playroom’s record decks (ha! like it was anyway near as cool in there as that sounds), what I do know is that a) I have recently bought both of these albums on vinyl myself, and b) shortly after The Jam album appeared I remember laughing at my brother for wearing white socks, the only mod accessory one could get away with at our school. Still, at least he didn’t steal them, of if he did, he wasn’t dumb enough to get caught. Ahem.

But these were the first shoots of liking more credible records, for very soon, we were fully into stage three, where he has resided ever since.

The Road to Redemption

There’s only one place to start. The Alarm’s haircuts may have influenced his for many years afterwards, when he could get away with it, but it was the dress sense and image of one of the Sex Pistols that most captured his imagination. He was told many times that he looked like this sneerer, which I’m pretty sure always thrilled him, however indifferent he may have appeared to look.

It’s credited to Sex Pistols, but make no mistake, released in 1978 as the band were imploding, this is a Sid Vicious record in everything but name:

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348. Sex Pistols – My Way

And so, with his black hair sprayed vertically, skinny black jeans with black studded belt and black winkle-pickers or occasionally cowboy boots (which, if memory serves, were brown when he bought them, unable to source a black pair, and which he spent several hours glossing over with a tub of Kiwi black polish and an oily rag), there was only one place he was going to go next:

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349. The Sisters of Mercy – Alice

And of course, this lot, who we are both unified in our admiration of, so it seems appropriate this song occupies the 350th slot in this section:

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350. The Jesus & Mary Chain – You Trip Me Up

He also bought the one and only album by this next lot, who I mention because I cannot hear it without thinking of the summer I spent as an underage drinker, hanging out with him and his mates Rob and Phil, driving round Cambridgeshire’s village pubs, where no-one knew our names, pubs like The Barnwell Mill, which had a massive juke box, and only one record they liked upon it. Once they realised that it didn’t differentiate between the same song having been selected twice by different people, they realised they could have hours of fun, by simply playing this, over and over and over and over and over again, often leaving after they’d heard it once, leaving the rest of the drinkers to sup their way through it another 17 times:

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351. Sigue Sigue Sputnik – Love Missile F1-11

Gradually, our musical tastes have pretty much merged. At no time was this more apparent than when I was at Sixth Form, between 1986 and 1988. As I mentioned recently, on a nightly basis  I found myself preparing mixtapes to play in the Sixth Form common room the following day, and there was one album which Andrew had bought which was invaluable for that. For he is the only person I know to have bought the legendary NME C86 album when it came out (admittedly, he bought the vinyl version, not the original cassette only version, but props are still due).

This band featured on the album in question, but not with this song, which he both realised we loved within the last few years, when discussing how much the much-missed The Long Blondes reminded us of them:

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352. The Shop Assistants – Safety Net

In 1997, our paths crossed back at our folks house, and, presumably after they’d gone to bed we were either playing records, or more likely watching a music TV channel, this came on. I’d not seen him so enthused for some years (actually, I’d probably not seen him for years), and he proclaimed this “the new punk”:

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353. The Prodigy – Firestarter

At which point, I’d better draw things to a close. If I don’t, it won’t be his birthday anymore by the time I post this.

So, one last one, by a band I remember him going to see towards the start of their career, and telling me afterwards how he’d been to see a band who used bashing-themselves-on- the-head-with-a-metal-tea-tray as a percussion instrument. I’d be very surprised if this doesn’t get an airing tomorrow night:

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354. The Pogues – Boys From the County Hell

Happy Birthday Bro. See you tomorrow. I’ll bring the Jack Daniels.

And to the rest of you – well, as I’m away, it’ll be a little quiet around here for the next couple of days, certainly not as busy as it normally is of a weekend. If I have time to write them before I set off tomorrow, there will be a Late Night Stargazing and a Sunday Morning Coming Down, but no promises. Otherwise, The Chain will return on Monday, so you’ve got another couple of days to get your suggestions in if you haven’t done so already.

Til then, have a fab weekend.

Oh, and More Soon, obviously.