A Mix-Tape Maker’s Best Friend #4

I’ve not written one of these for a while, and a couple if things prompted me to dig out today’s compilation CD.

Firstly, on this week’s edition of The Chain, Alex G suggested a track by All About Eve, which reminded me that I had bought a compilation album entitled CD88 back in 1988 that had a track by them on it.

Secondly, I found that the ever wonderful Cherry Red Records have released a triple CD of Indie tracks from 1988, entitled C88, which, looking at the track-listing has just entered my list of must-get albums at number one.

CD88 was one of a long series of Indie Top 20 albums released by Beechwood Music Ltd which started back in 1987 and ran into the mid-1990s. There’s a pretty wonderful and comprehensive blog which focuses on these albums here.

The albums were released two or three times a year, with the occasional Best of the Year editions thrown in every now and then for good measure. CD88 was one such volume, sort of. For it’s important not to be misled by the title: it’s not a Best of the Indie tracks which were released in 1988, it’s a Best of Indie tracks which was released in 1988. Confused? Let me put it another way: it covers the first five volumes of the Indie Top 20 compilations, which were released in 1987 and 1988.

Here’s what it says on the booklet that accompanies the CD (which, I have found when writing this, also got a vinyl release):

“CD88 is a testament to the vital role played by the independent chart. Many of these hit singles have never been and might never be available on CD elsewhere.

CD88 is a collection of outstanding singles that have since become indie classics, and for many, subsequently served as the springboard from their Independent roots to major label and Gallup chart status.

Each track is chosen from the successful Indie Top 20 compilations, plus four classic tracks previously not included in the series. Indie Top 20 is released every three months to highlight the best of the new singles which have made a high impact on the National Independent Chart.”

It’s funny when you find yourself getting all wistful and nostalgic at the mere mention of the Gallup charts, isn’t it?

Anyway, I was going to just post the songs that I love from this compilation – a Best of the Best, if you will – but, on reflection, have them all, along with their original artwork. Perversely, for an album celebrating the Indie Top 20, there are only nineteen songs on it:

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  1. All About Eve – Our Summer

I’m not a massive fan of All About Eve (the band, not the film, or The Wedding Present track), but this is okay enough, and definitely fits the “before they were famous” mould that defines many of the acts/songs here, for this record reached the giddy heights of #87 in the UK charts in 1987.

2. Cardiacs – Is This The Life

If you’ve ever wondered where Chain Gang regular The Robster got the inspiration for the title of his excellent blog, then look no further.

As well as making me think of Rob, this record always reminds me of my first year at college, when me and my buddies would traipse along to the Student’s Union every other Tuesday to attend “Funk Off”, the Indie Night, and it was here that I first heard this tune.

This was before I started DJing there myself – I wrote about how I started DJ’ing at college, and how the chap who taught me to DJ had introduced me to quite a few records (here) and this is one of them – and one of the resident DJs, Jolly Jim, had played it; generally someone in our gang would be able to tell you what a record was if you didn’t know, but this one drew blank looks from everyone. I couldn’t not know, so I nervously shuffled up to the DJ booth which would soon become practically my second home.

“‘Scuse me mate,” I called to Jim. “What’s this record?”

Jim looked at me with some mixture of surprise and joy; surprise because admitting you didn’t know a record was definitely not considered a cool thing to do at Funk Off, and joy because he was able to impart some wisdom.

So the Cardiacs track was probably the one most responsible for me buying this album in the first place. If you’ve never heard this one before, I urge you to give it a listen (Part 1 of 2).

3. Fields of the Nephilim – Preacher Man

Goths, but Goths By Numbers. Wannabe Eldritches. That’s all I got.

4. Danielle Dax – Cat-House

This, on the other hand, is another absolute belter of a forgotten track. Although, having said that, a few years ago, Hel and I DJ’d a couple of times at the now defunct Mucky Pup bar in Islington. I happened to be there on a night when we weren’t playing, and was staggered when the DJ played this, partly because I was annoyed that I hadn’t played it the week before, but mostly because I genuinely didn’t think anyone else remembered it, much less did I expect to meet anyone else who did. As it played, I spoke to the DJ, commending him on his choice. He looked at me with an air of bafflement. “You know this record??” he asked. Oh yes. If you’ve never heard this one before, I urge you to give it a listen (Part 2 of 2).

5. Crazyhead – Baby Turpentine

This lot cropped up on my Replenishing the Vinyl series a couple of weeks ago, and The Robster left a comment about how this was his favourite track by them. Mine too, mate, mine too.

6. The Wedding Present – Nobody’s Twisting Your Arm

In the late 1980s, no Indie compilation worth it’s salt was without a track by The Wedding Present, a band who I still love to this day, as I have mentioned many, many times on these pages. This is one of their greatest (early) singles. Take it away, Grapper!

7. The Soup Dragons – Hang Ten!

Ditto: The Soup Dragons, whilst they were still in their playful pop mode, as they were here. Many happy memories of pogoing around the Students Union dancefloor to this one.

8. The Rose of Avalanche – Velveteen

Not really my cup of tea, this one, though it’s one of my brother’s favourites, so at least he’ll get chance to hear it again.

9. Half Man Half Biscuit – Dickie Davies Eyes

Any excuse to blow the dust of this one.

10. Michelle Shocked – Fog Town

Thankfully, the version lifted from The Texas Campfire Tapes, rather than the (nowhere near as good) rock version which crops up as a bonus track on Short Sharp Shocked.

11. The Chesterfields – Ask Johnny Dee

My old mate Rich got in touch after I last posted a track by this lot to tell me that this tune reminded him of when we were kids listening to records in my bedroom. I’m not sure there’s a finer definition of late 80s jangly indie pop than that.

12. Wire – Kidney Bingos

I’d never heard of Wire before I picked this CD up, but this is great. Not as great as similar period Eardrum Buzz and nowhere near as good as their earlier stuff, but a bad Wire record is still a pretty good Wire record in my book.

13. Bradford – Skin Storm

This lot were, not least because of the blessing they received from one Steven Patrick Morrissey, once tipped to be the next big thing, but it never happened for them. Mostly because every other record of there’s seemed to sound almost exactly like this, but not as good.

14. Sweet Honey In The Rock – Chile Your Waters Run Red Through Soweto

Perhaps the surprise inclusion on this compilation. Nowadays, this would doubtless attract sneery comments about diversity targets being met, but that would detract from the fact that this is a brave and beautiful political record, latterly covered by Billy Bragg.

15. A Certain Ratio – Mickey Way (The Candy Bar)

Manchester legends, who I’ve never really got into for some reason. My loss, I’d imagine. And having just listened to that for the first time in god knows how many years, it is pretty ace.

16. Ciccone Youth – Into The Groovy

A side project of the Sonic Youth gang, plus Firehose and Minutemen member Mike Watt and J Mascis from Dinosaur Jr, taken from a tongue in cheek tribute to Madonna which I’m not going to name as I have a sneaky feeling that if I did, it might crop up again on these pages quite soon….

17. The Beloved – Forever Dancing

From before they became successful, one listen to this will tell you why commercial success eluded them for another year or so.

18. The Shamen – Jesus Loves Amerika

The sound of another band, soon to be quite large indeed, still honing their musical sound. The deliberate mis-spelling of America is, I suspect, making a point still relevant today.

19. Pop Will Eat Itself – There Is No Love Between Us Anymore

Taken from Box Frenzy, their first album where they stepped away from their grebo sound and started using samplers.

One last thing before I go: this compilation holds a special place in my heart, for it was the first record of many that I ever bought in the oldest record shop in the world, Cardiff’s “Spillers Records”, a store which became a regular haunt for me over the following twenty years. It’s moved premises since I last lived in Cardiff, but this is how I remember it:

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Now that’s a proper record shop. And now I’m getting all wistful and nostalgic again.

You can read about it here, or, better still, go here and spend a few quid to keep them going.

More soon.

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Naughty, Naughty, Very Naughty

I was listening to an old recording of Bill Hicks the other day (of course it was old, he died in 1994), a routine of his taken from his 1992 album “Relentless”.

It’s the bit where he talks about there never being any positive stories in the press about drugs, about the good times he’s had on drugs, and how modern day rock stars campaign against, instead of in favour of drugs.

He does the whole thing far better than me, so you may as well hear him for yourselves. In case you’re unfamiliar with his work, please don’t listen to this is you’re offended by swear words, or by comedy routines which are deliberately controversial and extol the virtues of some facets of the counter-culture:

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Bill Hicks – Great Times on Drugs

Bill Hicks – Drugs Have Done Good Things

Bill Hicks – Rockers Against Drugs Suck

Which kinda got me thinking. Firstly, about some experiences I’ve had when under the influence, which I’ll talk about here some day. (Let me be clear though: when I do, as with this post, I’m not writing it to show off or seem cool. I am neither condoning nor condemning their use, merely reporting what happened to me. But some of the things that happened to me back in the days when I did indulge are very, very funny indeed, if a little weird and possibly a little scary too, even if I do say so myself.)

And secondly, it got me thinking about songs which are about, or are influenced by (or both) illegal drugs of one sort or another.

Back then, in my clubbing days, as with most people (except for the poor girl I found myself sitting next to one night who had taken a shed-load of ketamine and was regretting it) my drug of choice was ecstacy, or E, and perhaps the most notorious of songs from recent years (and by recent, I mean 1992) was about that particular little pill.

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The Shamen – Ebeneezer Goode

Unsurprisingly, the song was initially banned by the BBC, but then, I think possibly concerned that the ban might be fuelling the sales of the record in the same as has happened a few years earlier with Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s “Relax”, the ban was lifted. Ironic, then, that it hit the Number One spot in the UK Charts during Radio One’s “Drug Awareness Week”; it certainly made a lot of people very aware of that one particular drug alrighty.

Here’s Shamen songwriter Colin Angus on how the idea for the song came to be: “One night, at the Forum, I heard this underworld dandy speaking a pirate-like patois. I found myself thinking, “Who is he? His first name must begin with an E … Ebeneezer Goode? Now there’s a name to conjure with.”

And over to Richard West, aka Mr C, the group’s rapper: “It was so cleverly written that a lot of people still don’t get it. One way, it’s about this guy called Ebeneezer Goode; another way, it’s about ecstasy: “E goes by the name of Ebeneezer Goode. E’s friends call him Eezer, and E is the main geezer and E vibes up the place like no other man could. E’s refined, E’s sublime, E makes you feel fine.” I mean, come on. But even fans think the only E is in the chorus.”

No prizes for guessing which of the two wrote the lyrics, eh?

Mr C again: “Colin was a genius songwriter: he’d give me a theme and I’d write the rap lyrics, the drums and the rhythm. He’d do the chords and the synths and the songwriting, and that’s how Ebeneezer came along.”

I don’t think there was anyone over the age of 16 when that came out who didn’t think it was a song about drugs. I mean, it’s littered with references to other drugs too: “Has anybody got any Veras?” and “Got any salmon?” being rhyming slang cases in point.

I’ll let Mr C explain: “[When they performed the song on Top of the Pops] I changed the line “Got any salmon?” to “Got any underlay?” and people said, “That’s not in the song! Drug reference!” I was asked about it on Radio 1 by [DJ] Mark Goodier, and said that “salmon” was rhyming slang for salmon and trout – snout, cigarettes – a legal drug that has killed thousands, so I’d changed it. He said: “So what’s ‘underlay’?” I said it was a gratuitous rug reference.”

I don’t think I can beat that gag.

More soon.

The Chain #32

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

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

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

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

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

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Black Grape – Reverend Black Grape

Over to the Great Gog now:

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

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Public Image Ltd. – Disappointed

“…and the other by Electronic.”

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Electronic – Disappointed (Single Mix)

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

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

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

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Morrissey – Disappointed

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

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

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Bob the Builder – Can We Fix It?

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

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

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

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

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The Sidebottoms – Panic

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

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

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

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 Tricky – Pumpkin

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

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The Smashing Pumpkins – Today

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

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Kate Nash – Pumpkin Soup

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

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

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

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Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – The Curse Of Millhaven

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

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

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The Clash – Wrong ‘Em Boyo

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

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

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

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

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Big Star – The Ballad of el Goodo

Over to Rol of My Top Ten fame next:

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

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Jim’s Big Ego – The Ballad of Barry Allen

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

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

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

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Marianne Faithfull – The Ballad Of Lucy Jordan

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

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Oh, I see.

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

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

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

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Space with Cerys Matthews – The Ballad Of Tom Jones

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

“At #2 was Martin’s Tom Jones.

But #1…

#1 was something really rather special.

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

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Todd Snider – The Ballad of the Kingsmen

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

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

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 The Bloodhound Gang – The Ballad Of Chasey Lain

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

I’m not arguing.

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

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

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

Probably easier if I just post the video, really:

Oh, and the song too:

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New Order – Bizarre Love Triangle

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

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

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Traci Lords – Fallen Angel

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

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

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Manic Street Preachers – Little Baby Nothing

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

Step forwards SWC:

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

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

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Extreme – More Than Words

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

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

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

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Spinal Tap – Stonehenge

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

 

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

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

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Emerson Lake & Palmer – The Gnome

He’s got a point, hasn’t he, readers?

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

Selection number two from Alyson:

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The Art of Noise feat. Duane Eddy – Peter Gunn

Back to George next:

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

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

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

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

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

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Peter and The Test Tube Babies – Banned From the Pubs

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

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

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

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

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Blur – Colin Zeal

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

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

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Bonzo Dog Band – Canyons of Your Mind

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

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

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

You do remember correctly; in fact it goes:

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

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

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The Jesus & Mary Chain – Reverence

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

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

Here’s Alex G again:

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

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The Temptations – Get Ready

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

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

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

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

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Crash Test Dummies – Afternoons & Coffeespoons

Nope still annoying.

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

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

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ABC – Poison Arrow

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

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

Anybody got any Vera’s? Lavely.

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The Shamen – Ebeneezer Goode

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

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E-Zee Possee – Everything Starts With an E

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

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

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

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

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

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EMF – E.M.F. (Live At The Bilson)

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

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

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

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Joey Beltram – Energy Flash

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Go Home Productions – Making Plans For Vinyl

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

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

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

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The Clash – This Is England

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

Here’s George again:

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

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Barrington Levy – Here I Come

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

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

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

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

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The Beach Boys – Gourd Only Knows

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

And just in case you don’t get it:

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

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

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

Nailed it.

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David Cassidy – Daydreamer

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

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

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Bill Barclay – 12 Days of Christmas

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

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

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Andy Partridge – History Of Rock And Roll

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

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

cover_564742611201032. Frank Zappa – Valley Girl

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

See you next week!

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

Friday Night Music Club

So, as I mentioned last week, I spent the majority of Sunday in an increasingly wet and muddy Victoria Park attending Field Day.

Consensus amongst my group was that we’d rather catch The Avalanches and Air in the relocated Return of the Rural tent than any of the other headliners – and, yes, that included PJ Harvey, sacrilege, I know – but in terms of staying dry and relatively mud-free it was a pretty smart move.

Oh and because of the music too, of course.

We arrived just at the tent just as The Temper Trap were finishing, which just happened to coincide with quite the downpour, so we happily ventured inside, where the resident DJs were whipping the crowd up into a pre-Avalanches frenzy by dropping this little beauty:

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294. Naughty By Nature – O. P. P.

Now I’m not going to pretend that I was particularly fond of rap or hip hop when it first reached these shores – the Beastie Boys was about as far as my taste stretched – and O.P.P. was not a song that even crossed my radar until some 10 years or so after it was released in 1991. In fact, it’s probably one of the records that is responsible for me revisiting all of those classic tunes and realising I would totally have to re-evaluate my position.

And yes, to those who know me, that does mean having to admit I was wrong. It does happen.

Hearing it again last week was a joy, in particular watching lots of people of around about my age trying to bust the same moves they used to roll out when this first came out, with varying degrees of success, I think it’s fair to say.

Me? I have no moves.

Of course, O.P.P. features a sample of this early 70s classic:

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295. Jackson 5 – ABC

Which got me thinking: song titles with abbreviations, acronyms or just letters (but not words) – there’s got to be a few of them, right?

Right! Yup, belt yourself in folks, it’s theme time again here on a Friday night, and I promise everyone of these is a belter. Which means no “YMCA”, obviously.

No list of abbreviation titles would be complete without this next one, though:

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296. Ottawan – D.I.S.C.O.

I believe Dame Edna Everage got her specs back eventually.

Somewhere in the darkest, most ill-informed recesses of my brain, I had stored the information that they were called Ottawan because they were from Ottawa, Canada. Nope. French, apparently. Not even French-Canadian. Just French. With a bit of what Wikipedia rather vaguely refers to as “Caribbean” thrown into the mix. Ah well, you’re never too old to learn, eh?

Keeping things on a disco-y vibe, here’s some Philly soul:

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297. MFSB featuring The Three Degrees – TSOP (The Sound Of Philadelphia)

Now that’s value for money: not just one set of abbreviations, but two. As you can see, TSOP stands for The Sound of Philadelphia, whilst the MFSB stands for…ermm…well, let’s just say the clean version is “Mother Father Sister Brother”, whilst the considerably less clean version has at least one of those changed for something altogether fruitier.

And yes, that really is The Three Degrees, they of “When Will I See You Again” fame, and one time favourite band of Prince Charles. Like that’s a recommendation.

Now it’s not often that I post two songs by the same artist in the same thread, and I’m not about to start now, but this does come awfully close.

In 1982, Michael Jackson released his “Thriller” album. You don’t need me to tell you what a massive album that was, I assume? Thought not. It was accompanied by what seemed to be a never-ending stream of singles from it. “Thriller” contained 9 tracks. 7 of them were released as singles. Unbelievably, “Thriller” itself was the last of them, presumably because the video took so long to do. The next track was the 6th:

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298. Michael Jackson – PYT (Pretty Young Thing)

Thanks for clarifying what the “PYT” referred to for us there, Michael.

Although, given the allegations which dogged his adult life, I don’t think he really needed to, did he? I mean, the signs were there for us all to see when you think about it. He looks like he’s growling in that cover shot, leaning out the window of a Ford Cortina, Bubbles the monkey strapped in the passenger seat, a bag of tempting sweeties just out of shot.

On the subject of “Thriller”, the song, not the album, one of my favourite pub quiz facts: it was written by a chap called Rod Temperton from the exotic town of Cleethorpes, Lincolnshire, who used to be in Heatwave, a late 70s/early 80s disco band best known for their 1976 hit “Boogie Nights”, after which the brilliant movie by Paul Thomas Anderson, starring Mark Wahlberg as blessed in the “downstairs area” porn star Dirk Diggler, is named. If you haven’t seen it, go away and do so right now. We’ll wait for you, I promise.

Have they gone? Right, let’s carry on.

Something bordering on contemporary now: a record that’s only ten years old, which is about as recent as I get round these parts.

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299. Rihanna – SOS

Heavily sampling Soft Cell’s version of “Tainted Love” (more about that over the weekend), the song was originally intended for Def Jam label-mate Christina Milian for her third solo album “So Amazin'”, but she turned it down and it was given to Rihanna instead. “SOS” went on to become Rihanna’s first US number one single, whilst Milian’s album absolutely tanked and she was dropped by the label. Them’s the breaks.

And so to the 300th song in this thread, and I can’t think of a better song to inhabit this position (well, I can, but it’d probably be a Quo one and you’d all moan) than this:

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300. The Shamen – L.S.I. (Beat Edit)

You have to love Mr C’s rapping interlude’s, don’t you? Altogether now: “Love Sex Intelligence…coming on like a seventh sense!”

Wait a minute – seventh? No, no, no, no, no. Master Fry says there’s more:

Time for some proper Old School rave stuff now:

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LFO – LFO

In case you’re interested, LFO stands for Low-Frequency Oscillator, a function on what used to be called synthesizers, but now are just called keyboards.

And now, as they say, for something completely different, and to a song which I have been thinking about posting in my “Same Title, Different Song” thread, along with one by Monty Python’s Flying Circus:

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302. Shonen Knife – S*P*A*M

I own far too few Shonen Knife songs; I posted their fab “Space Christmas” song about six months ago here (just before Christmas, funnily enough), and own this, and their wonderful cover version of The Carpenters’ “Top of the World” (which I’ll get round to posting sooner or later), and that seems to be about it. I thought I had more than that. But every time I hear something by them, I have a smile on my face. Mental note to self: buy more Shonen Knife.

Ok, time to get loud. Here’s the Manic Street Preachers:

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303. Manic Street Preachers – P.C.P.

Lifted from their seminal 1994 “The Holy Bible” album, and released as a Double A side along with “Faster”, the boys caused quite the stir when they appeared on Top of the Pops, dressed like this:

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the military regalia, and in particular lead singer James Dean Bradfield’s balaclava, were construed by many as a show of support for the IRA, and the BBC received 25,000 complaints, which seems a suspiciously round figure to me.

If any of you are disturbed by Bradfield’s attire, I can temper that somewhat: he came into Boots the Chemist in Cardiff when I worked there, and asked me to show him where the Athlete’s Foot powder was kept. Pop stars, see? They’re just like you and I. Except with icky fungal foot conditions.

Two to go for tonight. Penultimately, some Blur.

By 1997, the Britpop war between Blur and Oasis was over, and few could argue that from a commercial perspective, Oasis had won. Yes, Blur’s “Country House” had beaten Oasis’ “Roll With It” to the Number One slot in the singles, but “The Great Escape” album – though it had its moments – paled in comparison to its predecessor “Parklife” and racked up sales of 2.54 million worldwide. Oasis’ “(What’s The Story) Morning Glory”, on the other hand, managed 22.4 million. I love Blur, but that’s fairly comprehensive.

So the band went off, regrouped and rethought things. What they came back with, the eponymous “Blur” album, from memory, surprised, shocked, delighted and just plain pissed off fans in equal measure. Gone were the upbeat chirpy cockney numbers, in came a more lo-fi, stripped down sound (see: “Beetlebum“) tempered by the occasional blast of sonic noise terror and whooping (see: “Song 2“).

See also, this:

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 304. Blur – M.O.R. (Alan Moulder Road Version)

And so finally, since we’ve mentioned Britpop, to a track from, to my mind, the greatest album from that brief period; to a title that takes abbreviations to a whole new level, and a song which displays classic Jarvis witticisms, slow burn atmospherics which would become more prevalent on their follow-up album “This Is Hardcore”, building to a crescendo which is just, well, Pulp:

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305. Pulp – F.E.E.L.I.N.G.C.A.L.L.E.D.L.O.V.E.

More soon.

Friday Night Music Club

Hello, good evening and welcome to what is for us lucky folks in the UK is that rarest and most beautiful of things: a bank holiday weekend.

For those of you outside the UK, that means we have Monday off.

And for what I think is the first time in my working life, I have been astute enough to book today off too, giving me a glorious 4 days off on the trot.

And how will I be spending it, I hear you ask? Predominantly, perched in front of my laptop writing guff for you all to enjoy read, interspersed with the occasional missive to the agency who manage the flat I live in about where they can stick the £150.00 “administration fee” they want to charge me to renew my tenancy agreement.

So before, I get all grizzly about that, let’s get going with a non-themed, just tunes Friday Night Music Club.

But first some admin: inspired by The Robster over at “Is This The Life?” I’m using a different file-sharing service this week. I’ve grown a little tired of people telling me they can’t use the Zippyshare link to songs on their phones, and even more so about the pop-ups that Zippyshare seem to generate, and the content of some of the ads they insert, which I definitely do not approve of, and which I hope none of you have clicked. I’ve road-tested the new one and it seems to be waaaaaay better, but I’d be grateful for your feedback (Cath, Llyr, Kay) as to whether it’s an improvement or not.

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262. The Cure – Friday I’m In Love

When I was in my final year at college, I would often spend a Friday night round at my mate Daints’ flat. Daints was the singer in the band that I attempted to play lead guitar in, and I would often seek sanctuary round at his. Occasionally we would rehearse or, heaven forbid, write a song; more often we would sink a few beers, smoke a few fags (USA folks: that doesn’t mean what you think), play a little Tetris (this does nothing to negate any nerd thoughts you may have had about me, does it?) and indulge in what today is annoyingly termed “banter” but back then was just some mates having a laugh.

On one such occasion, Daints was ribbing (again, not what you USA folks might think) one of his flat-mates (a nice enough girl called Paula, who my friends and I all referred to, rather unkindly I can see with the benefit of hindsight, as “Baked Potato” because of her resemblance to one) about her love of The Cure, by pointing out that there out-put at the time (i.e. when this came out) was nothing more than “chart music”. He spat the phrase out with such distaste that she had no chance of recovery.

Still, it’s perfect Friday Night fodder, and let’s be honest, whilst I have no clue about what bothers the charts these days, there’s nothing wrong with our favourite bands being successful, right? Hence it’s inclusion here.

Next, an oft-overlooked single from what I think is one of the greatest debut albums in recent history:

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263. Franz Ferdinand – Michael

Now, the closest you will get to a theme this week, and a man who apparently had no “G” on his keyboard :

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264. Michael Jackson – Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’

Let’s just examine some of the lyrics for a second:

“You’re A Vegetable (You’re A Vegetable)
Still They Hate You (You’re A Vegetable)
You’re Just A Buffet (You’re A Vegetable)
They Eat Off Of You (You’re A Vegetable)”

Erm, okay Michael.

Who knew he had so much in common with Thatcher?

Or the Child Catcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang for that matter (Let’s not go there – Legal Ed.)

Ma Ma Se, Ma Ma Sa, Ma Ma Coo Sa indeed.

Ok, moving on to my favourite type of record to play when DJ’ing.: long ones.

The benefit of dropping long record are threefold:

  1. You don’t have to think about what to play next for a while;
  2. You can dash off to the toilet and get back in plenty of time for the next tune;
  3. Generally, people don’t like to walk off the dancefloor mid-record, as it makes it look like they didn’t know what they were dancing to in the first place. Long records test their endurance in a way that Bear Grylls can only dream of, allowing you chuckle about  those who start dancing and who then feel compelled/become determined to see it out to the end of the song, however knackered they may look 3/4 of the way through.

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265. Marvin Gaye – Got To Give It Up

That’s just shy of 12 minutes worth of funky grooviness right there, and if you can’t make it to the Gents and back in that time, then I’d suggest you contact your GP.

Next up, a song you will all know, but a remix of it that I first came across when I picked it up on a compilation CD in a Virgin megastore sale, and which has such a fantastically 80s bass-line it almost makes me want to be the next Mrs John Taylor:

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266. Duran Duran – Girls on Film (Salt Tank Remix)

And for all you lonely people (by which  here’s the original video, directed by 10cc’s Godley and Crème and banned by the BBC for what will become fairly obvious reasons if you watch it (by which I mean Dad, do not watch this when Mum’s around):

Moving swiftly on….and following on from my recent Kate Bush posts, here’s a remix of a 1992 tune by Utah Saints, which samples La Madame Bush, this version released in 2008:

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267. Utah Saints – Something Good 08 (Van She Tec Mix)

…and which had a simply splendid video to accompany it:

Terrible gag at the end, mind, but as a former Cardiffian, I can’t help but love it.

Next up, a tune that simply sounds good played next to that one:

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268. Simian Mobie Disco – Audacity of Huge

I first came across the next record when I was DJ’ing at college; originally called “Pro>Gen”, it got it’s first release when the band’s sort-of original line-up was still intact, by which I mean before Will Sinn had tragically drowned off the coast of Tenerife.

Truth be told, it did little to bother the charts on it’s first release, but post-Sinn, in that way that records tend to do when someone involved with creating them dies, like the general public rubber-necking a car crash, it was much more successful when it got re-released as “Move Any Mountain”.

Here’s the original:

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269. The Shamen – Pro>Gen

I worked with The Shamen once. *CLANG* Name-dropping alert!!

We booked them on the Synergy Tour when I was at college and one of my many duties was to ensure their rider demands were met. On this occasion, one of them was that all of the performers were provided with a hot meal.

No problem, I thought: they can have something from the college refectory, same as every other band that had come through our doors. If it’s good enough for the Manic Street Preachers, The Blue Aeroplanes and Carter USM (CLANG! CLANG! CLANG!), it’s good enough for this lot, reasoned I.

So, they were provided with menus of the day’s delicious offerings, from which they all ordered, and I dispatched a couple of members of my team to go and collect their chosen sustenance.

Mr C. was, I recall, not happy about the standard of the slop that he was given, ranting off about how he hadn’t eaten properly for days and how he couldn’t eat what he had been given.

I stood up and looked him in the eye.

“We have to eat this shit every fucking day, mate” I said.

Mr C sat down again.

I still love his rap in this though.

After the gig, I ventured into the dressing room. Now I’m not saying that they weren’t all diabetics, but there were an awful lot of syringes laying around in there.

I once played “Pro>Gen” at a house party, and the now ex-girlfriend of one of my best mates started singing “E’s are Good” when it got to the chorus, not in any ironic “they all sound the same” kinda way, but in a genuine “that’s what this record is, right?” kinda way.

Lucky escape, mate.

At the same house party (shout out to the Hilldrop Massive!!), I played this, and a man I’d never met before, or since, practically exploded with excitement, came and hugged me, and then would not shut up about the fact I’d played it for the rest of the night. So, in his honour:

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270. Double Trouble & Rebel MC – Street Tuff (Scar Radio Mix)

Two more songs for tonight. Firstly, the song which they invariably use to mark the end of one of their gigs; this is essentially the sound of The Charlatans flicking the lights on and off, stacking chairs and starting to mop the floor around you:

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271. The Charlatans – Sproston Green (US Version)

But it’s not our end of night tune. That honour goes to another act that needs no introduction, and which, if you timed listening/reading to all of this just right, will be pretty much perfect:

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272. The Chemical Brothers – Midnight Madness

The video is rather fun/disturbing (delete as applicable):

That should do you for this week.

More soon.