Replenishing the Vinyl

Regular visitors will recall that a few weeks ago, I took ownership of on the responsibility of looking after my brother’s vinyl.

In case you missed it, a brief recap: my brother has been living overseas for the past few years, the majority of his belonging in storage whilst he was away.

Now he’s back, all of his worldy belongings have been retrieved, and since he hasn’t owned a turntable since sometime in the 1990s, he decided he had no use of his vinyl anymore, and that it could go to an appreciative, caring home (i.e. mine.)

He’s quite techy, my brother, so I don’t really envisage him investing in a turn-table anytime soon. I’m not saying his vinyl is now my vinyl but….

The other week, he arrived at my gaff in North London, having driven from our folks house in Northamptonshire, dropped off his vinyl and, to my surprise, his CD collection (which I haven’t even ventured into yet; there’s three crates worth for me to investigate, although a cursory glance picked out a mix CD I’d made him, obviously much appreciated), before we headed off to Staffordshire to his new place, where we dropped off the rest of the stuff he had collected from our parents’, and then it was off to Nottinghamshire to one of those Big Yellow places to collect his tropical fish tanks and an absolute fuck load of gravel.

At the first stop at his new home, one of his new neighbours approached us, proffering a parcel of his which she had signed for. The three of us chatted for a few moments, during which time it came out that he had got rid of his vinyl as part of the move. The neighbour seemed shocked he could let the vinyl go, and we reassured her by telling her I was looking after them.

“Well, at least they’re local if you want them, then,” she said.

“Not really,” I replied, “I live in London.”

Anyway, as no doubt those of you who were aware of my recent receipt of this cache of vinyl loveliness had been expecting, I figured I’d write about some of them. But where to start?

Thumbing through them, I was reminded of both our early obsession with rock music; there’s a lot more¬†Deep Purple than I expected, quite a bit of¬†Led Zeppelin too. Ah,we were all young once.

And then I began to notice the records I remembered him owning but which weren’t there: where were his copies of AC/DC’s Back in Black and For Those About to Rock that I distinctly remember him owning.¬†And his copy of Quo’s 12 Gold Bars? And, considerably less rocky, an album that we’d inexplicably¬†both owned copies of, like (brace yourself) Billy Joel’s An Innocent Man?

And there’s my “in”, I thought. Let’s start off my by looking at the records we had in common.

For there are some, and not just ones which I’ve subsequently bought, which we have in common, and a couple of albums, by the same band, which I don’t remember him owning, but which I definitely did.

That should not be misconstrued as an allegation of theft, by the way.

But very very long term readers may remember that I wrote here about my youthful obsession with the God that is Shakin’ Stevens, and how I grew out of it and into The Police just at the wrong time in terms of Christmas presents being bought.

Weirdly, as we drove north from London to Staffs, our conversation turned to the band in question, as this got played on the radio:

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The Police – Spirits in the Material World

It’s a running joke between my brother and I that I’m “in charge of remembering things”. We’re not just talking birthdays and anniversaries, but also people we’ve both known in the past and, on this occasion, that The Police was the first proper gig that¬†he went to. I think he was a little taken aback by the fact that I remembered this.

I remember this not because of The Police, but because of their support band that night (The Alarm), who my brother and his mates came away feeling more excited about than the main act. Shortly afterwards, they all started spiking their hair up, and from there it was but a short step to the World of Goth they all inhabited for the next couple of years (and which he wrote about here), much to the chagrin of the local knuckle-draggers who, when faced with three spikey haired, tight black jeans,¬†flowery shirts and winkle-picker¬†wearing youths, decided that the only thing to do to something new that they didn’t understand was to kick the living shit out of them at every opportunity.

But more of this another time.

A few weeks ago, I featured an album I’d purchased on vinyl shortly before learning I’d be taking ownership of my brother’s stash, and which I suspected would be amongst his collection (it wasn’t).¬†Since I didn’t remember him owning a copy of today’s record, which I’d also recently re-purchased, here’s some other tunes from the same album:

The Police – Every Little Thing She Does is Magic

Look, I know Sting is a twat. But that, my friends, is a fecking great pop song.

The Police – Rehumanize Yourself

The Police – Too Much Information

The Police – Demolition Man

(Yes, we have Sting to blame for a terrible Stallone/Snipes movie!)

The Police – Invisible Sun

And to round things off, a cover of that last tune; I’d like to say this is the one redeeming feature from the worthy but ghastly¬†Peace Together project from the early 1990s, but I’m not sure that even that platitude is accurate:

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Therapy? – Invisible Sun

More soon. Maybe something interesting, who can tell?

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Friday Night Music Club

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a very short post – too short, so I’m told – in my “Which Reminds Me…” thread, about Kaiser Chiefs’ “Na Na Na Na Naa”.

That in turn has made me think about how songs with nonsensical titles have played quite a big part in the history of rock and pop, so I thought we’d have a look at some of them tonight.

But¬†just like cafe’s feel obliged to write the words “Warning: Contents May Be Hot”, here’s an¬†advance warning for you: this post contains songs of wildly varying quality. But that’s why you’re here, right? Right….?

So, let’s start with one of the greatest records ever:

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283. The Crystals – Da Doo Ron Ron

Unfortunately, people of a certain age, i.e. me, can’t hear that record without being reminded of this pair:

Not got any funnier with age that, has it?

What is there to say about Little Richard that hasn’t already been said? Well, very little that isn’t defamatory, so we’ll go straight to one of his tunes:

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284. Little Richard – Bama Lama Bama Loo

Bears more than a passing similarity¬†to his own “Tutti Frutti”, that is it…?

In 1986, presumably spurred on by his former Generation X frontman Billy Idol’s solo success, guitarist Bob “Derwood” Andrews formed Westworld. Named after the Yul Brinner movie, the band had two hit singles in 1987: a great one, “Sonic Boom Boy” which made Number 11 in the UK charts, and this not so great one, which made Number 37:

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 285. Westworld РBa-Na-Na-Bam-Boo

The follow-up single, “Where The Action Is” tanked even more, not even making the Top 40, and when their debut album met with a similarly indifferent response from the UK record buying public, the writing was on the wall for the band.

A few years ago, there was a rather wonderful sitcom on BBC3 called “Him and Her”. Starring Russell Tovey as Steve (the “Him”) and Sarah Solemani as Becky (the “Her”), a young couple living together in a¬†flat where all of the action in the first¬†three series’ took place. With able support from the likes of Joe Wilkinson, Camille Coduri¬†and Kerry sister-of-Russell-Howard Howard, it’s a wonderfully understated¬†show, with no laughter track or studio audience,¬†full of awkward silences and knowing looks. If you haven’t ever seen, I would urge you to check out.

Here’s a clip:

I mention this now because the end credits had this playing over them:

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286. Lulu – Boom Bang-a-Bang

“Him and Her” was written by Stefan Golaszewski, who some of you will know for being part of the comedy sketch group “Cowards”, along with the likes of Tim Key and Tom Basden. He¬†also wrote the equally great “Mum” which is currently showing on BBC2 at 10:00pm on Friday nights, but you wouldn’t know that because you’re here reading this on a Friday night, right? Watch it, it’s great.

More TV related shenanigans now, and a tune which again is guaranteed to bring back some happy memories for those of us “of a certain age”:

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287. The Dickies – Banana Splits (Tra La La)

For those of you who have no clue what I’m talking about, when I was a kid in the 1970s, no Saturday morning was complete without watching The Banana Split Show, which would always be on at about 8am, whetting the appetite for the three and a bit hour feast of middle of the road, middle class niceness¬†that was The Multi-Coloured Swap Shop.

The Banana Splits were a fictional rock band comprised of Fleegle, Bingo, Drooper (I wonder how he got his name….?) and Snorky, who were in essence, and sorry to shatter the illusion, four blokes in weird costumes.

Probably easier if I just show you them, I think:

I so wanted a buggy like that when I was a kid.

Wait – did I just say “Middle of the Road”…?

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288. Middle Of The Road – Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep

Let’s not dwell to much on that one, eh? Instead, let me direct you this, a song which¬†was just a bit too far ahead of the pack. Released in 1992, had it been three of four years later it would have been one of the great records of the¬†Britpop era, by one of the most underrated¬† acts, led by one of the most underrated musicians ever – Lawrence, formally of Felt, now of Go-Kart Mozart (unless he’s moved on again), then of Denim. As it was, it was largely, criminally, ignored by the majority of the Great British record buying public, the fools:

I’d hoped to be able to find their appearance on “Later…”, and it’s there on YouTube, but with even worse sound/video quality than that clip. It is rather amusing to read all the “This sounds like something from the 70s” slams in the Comments under that, written by people who really didn’t understand that that was the whole point.

Time for some more puppet-based fun now, but¬†ignore what it says on the sleeve, and give credit where credit’s due:

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289. Mahna Mahna & The Two Snowths – Mahna Mahna

Nope, you’re right. I can’t resist posting the video clip of that:

What’s not to love about that?

To some early 1980s German electro now, and a record which when I saw them perform it on Top of The Pops, the lead singer scared me like nothing else on that show had since Ron Mael had glowered down the camera lens in the 1970s:

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290. Trio – Da Da Da

Next to one of my favourite bands when I was a kid, cementing a place in my affections just after I’d grown bored of¬†Shakin’ Stevens but before I’d discovered the joys of Status Quo, and,¬†crucially, before I’d realised what a pretentious prick Sting was, and, even more crucially, before I’d ever seen him act.

From their 1980 album “Zenyatta Mondatta”, here’s:

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291. The Police – De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da

I say I hadn’t worked out how pretentious Sting was, but the clues are on that album. Who else could write a lyric like this with a straight face:

“It’s no use, he sees her
He starts to shake and cough
Just like the old man in
That book by Nabokov” (from “Don’t Stand So Close To Me”)

Really, Sting? Are we supposed to believe you couldn’t think of something to rhyme with “Lolita”??

Time to round things off for this week, with two stone cold classics.

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 292.Small Faces РSha-La-La-La-Lee

And finally, you¬†will have done very well to avoid knowing that the Euro 2016 tournament started tonight, with England’s first game on tomorrow. Now, there seems little point in me posting any football related songs – though I have loads – when you can go and pay Football and Music a visit, and find everything you ever wanted to hear, and quite a lot that you don’t (said with affection, I promise – the first comment I ever posted was on this website).

No, instead, I’m going to leave you with this song, because it mentions “Tottenham Hotspur, when they couldn’t get one in” in the lyrics.

It’s looking like there will be five Spurs players in England’s¬†starting eleven tomorrow night. Some of them might even be lucky enough to get played in their preferred position.

I’ll be hoping that one of them, at least, manages to get one in.

You know where I’m going with this, right?

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293. Chas & Dave – Gertcha

Oh, and good luck to all the Home Nations:¬†Wales (except against us, of course), Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland and…oh, that seems to be the end of the list.

More soon.

The Chain #5

Afternoon, link fans!

Happy to report that a steady number of suggestions to follow Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama” were received this week (by which I mean the same as last week:¬†two), both of which¬†take us¬†in directions I anticipated, albeit not the tunes I expected.

But first, some admin. I had a message from Dave a.k.a. The Great Gog who said:

“The original reasons for links are available online (or at least they were around eighteen months ago when I last looked) on an archived Radio 2 page from when Radcliffe and Maconie were on that station, but I guess that would be cheating.”

Well, Dave, yes it would, but it would also help us clarify why the official suggestion was made. So, I’ve had a peek – and I swear, I have resisted the temptation to look at the next record in the chain or how they got there – and can confirm the following:

  1. I was right about the link between Booker T and Otis Redding
  2. George was right about the link between Otis Redding and Lynyrd Skynyrd, which for those of you who haven’t read the comments is that Otis Redding died in a plane crash, as did¬†several members of Lynyrd Skynyrd.

The other bit of admin I need to sort was prompted by George who asked:

“Am I allowed to make another chain suggestion?”

So, let’s clear this up. I’m always happy to get messages from any of you, especially when it’s suggesting songs that you think I might like, or a suggestion for something to post, or hopefully both (Cath – I’ll be getting to that one you sent me months ago¬†soon, honest!). Plus, since George no longer blogs (unless I’m missing something…) it’s a delight to hear from him; as I’ve mentioned before, I used to absolutely love his old blog and the blogosphere (I hate that term, by the way) is a poorer place without him contributing to it, so I’m proud that he reads this and wants to chip in. I kinda feel like his surrogate blogger…!

Anyway, this is starting to sound like I’ve had¬† few too many drinks and am about to verge into slurry “You’re my best mate, you are” territory, so I’ll delay no further.

Here’s George’s suggestion:

“Lynyrd Skynyrd were named after a PE teacher; track 2 on Elton John‚Äôs album Don‚Äôt Shoot Me I‚Äôm only The Piano Player (an album I have, by the way) is ‚ÄúTeacher I Need You‚ÄĚ.”

Not a song I was familiar with, as it goes, but that shouldn’t stop me, in fact one of the things I’m enjoying about this thread – and, for that matter, the actual Chain feature on Radcliffe & Maconie’s show – is that it introduces me to “new” stuff ( can I legitimately refer to a song released in 1973 as “new”, I wonder? Yes, if it’s new to me, I unwonder.), so here it is:

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Elton John – Teacher, I Need You

S’alright, that, innit? I mean, it could’ve been worse, it could’ve been Van Halen’s “Hot For Teacher”, and then I’d have had all sorts of editorial issues to address…

Anyway, cheers for that George, keep those suggestions coming.

(Yes, checked. Nothing litigious or injunction breaking there. Continue – Legal Ed.)

The other suggestion was from the aforementioned Dave/The Great Gog who wrote:

“My suggestion would be linking the Len from the group name to a Len in a song title and an excuse to listen to The Auteurs‚Äô ‚ÄúLenny Valentino‚ÄĚ.”

Oh Dave, what a great choice.

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The Auteurs – Lenny Valentino

I have two recommendations on the back of that:

  1. If you haven’t already, then go read Auteurs main man Luke Haines’¬†brilliant book “Bad Vibes: Britpop and My Part in its Downfall”. Essential reading. Buy it here. (Actually, if you can buy it anywhere other than Amazon, like from someone who pays their taxes, please do.)
  2. Follow him on Twitter to see what an entertainingly cantankerous old sod he is: @LukeHaines_News

It occurred to me that other than tracking down and posting the suggested songs, I haven’t really contributed much to this thread myself so far, and that’s not what you all pay your money for (You have all paid your Dubious Taste Subscription Fees, right…?)

So during the week¬†I thought of a couple of songs which could link to the Lynyrd Skynyrd one, and funnily enough, they’re along the same lines as both George and Dave’s suggestions.

First, going with¬†Dave’s “Len” suggestion, here’s one hit wonders and butter tart (whatever they are)¬†enthusiasts Len:

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Len – Steal My Sunshine

Dunno what it is about that tune, but it always raises a smile on these old grizzle-chops.

The other suggestion I had was by a band that long-term readers will remember I enthused about some time ago as the act that guided me away from listening to Shakin’ Stevens when I was a nipper.

As you will probably know, former great record writer, terrible actor, commendable environmentalist and all-round pretentious prick Sting (your name’s Gordon, Sting, admit it!) used to be a teacher, amongst other things: less famously, he was also a bus conductor, a building labourer,¬† a tantric lover (not a fighter)¬†and a tax officer, which gives us another well founded reason to hate him.

He also wrote this, one of the greatest break-up records ever:

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¬†The Police – Can’t Stand Losing You

Which leads me, finally, to the next record in the official Chain:

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5. Ash – Girl from Mars

So, ladies and gentleman, your suggestions via the Comments function (at the bottom of the page) please for a) the reason the official Chain went from Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama” to Ash’s “Girl From Mars”, and b) any record you’d like me to post which you can link to “Girl From Mars” by Ash, along with the explanation of the connection.

Same time next week?

S’not as catchy as “More soon” that, is it?

More soon.