Sunday 25th October was, of course, the anniversary of the death of John Peel, back in 2004.
He spoke once about his own mortality: “I definitely want to be buried, although not yet…I should have a mile or two left in me, but I do want the children to be able to stand solemnly at my graveside and think lovely thoughts along the lines of ‘Get out of that one, you swine’, which they won’t be able to do if I’ve been cremated”
I would think there are few people who don’t know that his favourite records was Teenage Kicks by The Undertones, perhaps fewer that know the opening lines from it – “Teenage dreams, so hard to beat” – are etched onto his gravestone.
Sadly, since it clocks in a smidgeon over the two minute mark, Teenage Kicks is just too long to feature here. So instead, as promised when I last featured a track from the album where Teenage Kicks first appeared, here are all the ones from their debut which are sub-two minutes, with the exception of Here Comes The Summer which doesn’t seem all that appropriate at the moment:
Making mixtapes as I grew up, I cannot even begin to contemplate the amount of times one of those was squeezed in at the very end of a C90, even the sounds-like-a-demo-and-clocks-in-at-less-than-a-minute Casbah Rock which, despite those apparent shortcomings, and being the worst of the five songs featured here, is still the best song ever written with the word ‘Casbah’ in the title. And yes, I am including that one.
I got quite excited the other day, when I went into my Drafts folder and saw this title.
“Zut alors!” I exclaimed, thinking that I must have at the very least started writing the next installment of The Chain. And that I was French or German or whatever that language is.
But no, my laziness and ineptitude was laid out there before me, for all I had done was write the title, and that was it. Classic me, if my deadline nightmares are anything to go by.
Anyway, hello, and welcome back to the latest in what is turning out to be an increasingly infuriating occasional series: The Chain.
But at least it’s here, right? We all need distractions and things to think about at the moment, things to fill the time, and surely there’s no finer way to spend some time than reading what folks from all around the world can link to one particular song. It’s what Covid-19 was invented for, surely.
A brief reminder for those new to the shnizz we get up to here: we’re working our way through the songs played on The Chain section of Radcliffe & Maconie’s 6Music show, coming up with alternative suggestions, and listening to them all instead of just the one (Mrs Wembley). 80s sitcom gag, there, to help you acclimatise to the level of writing you can expect should you venture further.
I used to write these once a week, but then couldn’t be arsed lacked inspiration for a year or so, brought it back and suddenly find myself wondering where the days/weeks have gone and how it’s got to the point where I really should have written it by now has arrived.
Anyway, blah blah blah poor old me….let’s be off.
This episode, just to be different, we’re not going to start with the source record from last time. Well not quite, anyway.
No, instead, we’re going start with the first part of one of Rol from My Top Ten‘s suggestions:
The album version of Tubthumping opens with an inspirational quote from the great Pete Postlethwaite, taken from the movie ‘Brassed Off’…
Dammit, it’s done my head in for years trying to remember where I recognised that from! Cheers, Rol!
Before we go any further with Rol’s suggestion, I’ll hand you over to one of the two people who insist on emailing me (which is fine, by the way) their suggestions rather than popping them in the Comments section:
You may recall that last time out The Great Gog got a little obsessed with the county of Hampshire. And rightly so: if Hampshire had a church steeple with a 123-metre spire, then them pesky Ruskies would be queuing up to smear Novochok all over it and any corporate Italian restaurant chain in the immediate vicinity (I’m nothing if not topical).
Anyway, things don’t appear to have changed much in the Land of the Gog:
The album containing Tubthumping is Tubthumper.
Thumper is a rabbit in the animated film Bambi.
There are lots of cartoon rabbits in the animated film Watership Down.
Watership Down is set in some Hampshire fields – which could take us all the way back…
Is it too early to be handing out points for Comments Showboating? I think not: POINTS!
By the way, I’m not going to post the Points Table every time I write one of these, as nothing much will change from one post to another. It’d be like looking at any sports league table over the past four weeks. I’ll update things and do it every couple of posts or so.
Or…The Great Gog continues…stretching the link to breaking point (You’re by no means the worst cuplrit, fill your boots)…given my ramblings above…[this] would seem appropriate:
Next up, over to The Robster from the annoyingly still dormant Is This the Life blog who offers this:
All I could come up with is Get Up by R.E.M. but I’m sure I can come up with something else given time. Probably got, what, 18 months before the next installment? which is a bit rich, coming from the man who only posts anything at the end of the year. Go on click that link to his blog, let’s see if we can’t get him back in action. Your country needs you, Rob!
I posted the album version of this song not so long ago in my I’m Not Too Keen on Mondays series, so here’s a slightly different version, a live one, which pops up as one of the bonus tracks on the Collector’s Edition of the Shiny Happy People CD single.
But since the band themselves have practically disowned that single (guitarist Peter Buck once described it as “relentlessly upbeat” and also said “If we did one of those per record, I could see how it could get a little embarrassing”) maybe we should too; it’s notable for it’s absence from many of the Greatest Hits compilations, despite it being their =4th biggest hit in the UK (after, in reverse order: Leaving New York (#5), E-Bow The Letter (#4) and The Great Beyond (#3))
They weren’t so embarrased by it that they declined to do this, though (and who could blame them: would you turn down the chance to appear with the Muppets on Sesame Street???)
I love that the female vocalist is a Muppet who looks like Kate Pierson from The B-52s who, as you all know, provided the additional vocals on the single.
But I digress: this version is neither the album version nor the tucked-away-on-a-limited-edition-CD single version, but one I *coughs* obtained from a long gone and much missed blog called (I think…) The Independence of Tractors (long-time bloggers and blog followers may be able to jog my memory….I’m thinking of featuring this soon and would like to accredit, so if anyone has any info….y’know….), who once posted the whole of the band’s Tourfilm DVD as a series of mp3s:
I got a bit worried when you mentioned Jarvis and his controversial stunt at the Brits as I remember whose expense it was at. But no, it was our friendly water boys who if I remember correctly soaked Two Jags Prescott. Sticking to my Scottish band theme I’m therefore going to go with The Waterboys for the next link and sticking with my “water” theme in this comments box, the song….
Since we’re on Prescott, indulge me for a moment with my two favourite clips involving him. The first isn’t really about him, but it is from a documentary he made back in 2008 called Prescott – The Class System And Me:
I guarantee you, she voted Brexit.
And then there’s this notorious clip:
In his defence: a) what would you do if someone chucked an egg at you? and b) later (admittedly when he’d had time to get someone else to write a witty response think of something clever to say, he came up with this: “Well, Tony Blair asked me to go out and connect with the electorate….”
Anyway, that leads me to my next suggestion of the week:
Over now to Martin from New Amusements who proffers this Prescott related…um… jewel, I guess:
Like George, I’m going with a John Prescott connection, but hope to craft mine into a Double Linker. Yes, Danbert Nobacon once up-ended an ice-bucket over John Prescott at the Brits, but John Prescott was also memorably once replaced on ‘Have I Got News For You’ with a tub of lard, so I can surely claim a double link to Tubthumping for anything lard-related, so I’ll pitch:
He’s not done yet: …which, lest we forget, featured Marc “Lard” Riley. Since this is also about drinking, much like Chumbawumba’s chorus, could this be a Triple Linker? And maybe a point for worst suggestion of the week?
I don’t think I can refuse, can I, dear reader? It’s unquestionably the worst record of the week (POINT!) and he has managed to get a triple link out of this, the first time this has happened as far as I can recall (Ermmmm…points, I guess….).
I think we need to cleanse our palate a little, and remind ourselves that Martin could easily have dodged the sub-Barron Knights tosh that is The Shirehorses by referencing it and then directing us to this:
If that’s not a double-linker, than I don’t know what is.
Well, yes, Yes it is. POINTS!
Anyway, for continuity purposes, take a step back. If You Tolerate This… was the band’s first #1 single in the UK (I’m sure this can all be traced back to a shared cheese salad…) and it contains the line “Well, if I can shoot rabbits, then I can shoot fascists”, which leads me to another draft post of mine which I never got round to finishing. And neither Chas nor Dave are anywhere in sight.
This one even had a semi-clever title: “You’re Not The One For Me, Fascist”.
I’ll hand over to the ever wonderful Charity Chic to explain:
Chumbawumba recorded a song with Credit to the Nation called ‘The Day the Nazi Died’…
Ordinarily, I wouldn’t allow a suggestion which was simply “X recorded the source record, and they also recorded this”, but since this was a collaboration with the frankly quite marvellous Credit to the Nation, I’ll let it slide.
Plus: Charity Chic has a point to make:
….Morrissey (who may or may not be a Nazi) – he continues (“Not my words, the words of Top Gear car magazine!”) had a song called:
…And he is a bit of a tub these days who could probably do with a good thumping…Charity Chic signs off.
Just in case you’re not sure what CC is banging on about, or on which side of the fence you should be sitting when it comes to the whole “Is Morrissey a racist?” question, well I’ll leave you to make your own mind up.
And here to help you is a picture of him performing live on The Jimmy Fallon Show in May 2019:
And here’s a close-up of the badge he’s wearing on his lapel:
In case you’re not familiar with it, and I hope you’re not, that is a For Britain badge.
For Britain are not nice people.
Oh my, indeed.
Here’s my rule of thumb when it comes to Morrissey, which you are welcome to adopt: yes, when he was in The Smiths he made some inflammatory comments in interviews, but none of them leaked into his lyrics. Since The Smiths split and he went solo, they have. Regularly.
So: The Smiths – fine to still express love and admiration; Morrissey solo – tread carefully.
Which leads me to a suggestion from Jules of Music From Magazines fame, which *checks notes* I’m disqualifying becuase *checks notes*…well, I’m not sure why to be honest, but I am and that’s that:
Carrying on with the high five, Mel Brooks ‘Hitler Rap’
Ah now, I remember; in response to Charity Chic’s anti-Moz post, Jules responded: A high five for that and I don’t think that’s enough to allow it.
Yes, I am a strict Taskmaster, and yes, Greg Davies, watch your back!
What else have you got, Jules?
As I am a tad partial to a cider drink or eight anything I suggest at closing time will make sense….
Well, long time readers of The Chain will know that certain things crop up repeatedly. For sure is eggs is eggs, someone will suggest either a record by The Clash or Bruce Springsteen just to annoy George, and Jules will suggest something by Lambchop.
No, not that Lambchop….
So let’s unclasp the shackles and let Jules free; I have to say that I almost rejected all that you are about to enjoy, until I thought about his first suggestion a little harder:
Any crossword fan would see the anagram “wham bam Cuba” and the country’s name was nailed by the Gibson Brothers:
Now, let’s be honest: every time we’re unlucky enough to hear that, all we can really think of is this:
…Dave Grohl left the drum stool, strapped on a guitar and became Mr Foo…which sounds like a George Formby record (“Oh Mr Foo, what shall I do…? A niche joke, I know), but I’ve gone off at enough tangents, so we’ll leave that.
This song has featured in The Chain before so strictly speaking should be disqualified, but looking back I see that both this and The Rezillos version were suggsted at the same time, and, unable to choose between the two, I posted both. So I’ll let this slide too…but only so I can post my favourite record about somebody getting their head kicked in:
…link being Chumbawamba covered this on the “Fuck EMI” compilation.
Which leads me back to The Robster, who hasn’t quite had the eighteen months he ribbed me with earlier to think things over, but nonetheless has returned with this:
I remember when Tubthumping came out, it was released on EMI *shock-horror* a filthy major label. The band was deluged with accusations of selling out and going back on its DIY ethos. But one of the reasons they signed to EMI was because previous label One Little Indian rejected the ‘Tubthumper’ album as they didn’t like its sound. The band subsequently signed to EMI as “…experience had taught us that in a capitalist environment almost every record company operates on capitalist principles. Our previous record label One Little Indian didn’t have the evil symbolic significance of EMI but they were completely motivated by profit. Our position was that whoever we signed with would want us not for our ideas but for the potential profit, so we’d battle for a contract where we still had autonomy.”
So to that end, I’m offering up…a song about the music industry’s obsession with making moolah with little regard for the art:
We’re on the home stretch now, I promise. And with the finish line in sight, the baton is thrust into Alex G’s hand:
Of course, a song about a man who drinks a whiskey drink, a cider drink, a lager drink AND a vodka drink naturally leads us to Shane MacGowan. I suppose any song would do, but just to keep the theme going, it may as well be…
What Alex G omits to mention is that That Woman’s Got Me Drinking features the guitar work of one Mr Johnny Depp. When he’s not acting in the latest Tim Burton movie, or appearing in an advert for something smelly, or getting stopped at the border of an antipodean country trying to smuggle dogs across and subsequently being forced to make an apologetic if half-arsed video rather than go to jail, or defending himself against allegations of domestic abuse for that matter, there’s nothing Mr Depp likes more than to pop up in unexpected places:
Where were we?
Ah yes, booze related songs. I’m surprised there wasn’t more of these. Let me chuck one into the mix:
Two famous song titles are more or less quoted in the lyrics of ‘Tubthumping’ – the first one being ‘Danny Boy’, which, as we all know, is the Anthem of Northern Ireland. And what is the finest thing Northern Ireland ever produced, apart from ships (minus the Titanic. Obviously)?
Alas it’s not [I know] (although, Jez, nevertheless this should be a good excuse to include said tune in your essay straightaway), because, as I said, another song is being mentionedand that is ‘Don’t Cry For Me Argentina’. Yes, I have noticed that Chumbawamba omit the ‘Argentina’ – bit (and replace it by ‘next door neighbour’). But this is purely for copyright infringement reasons, I’m sure.
Now, ‘Don’t Cry For Me Argentina’ is a song done by Julie Covington back in 1976. But only (freaks like) you and me know this. And Wikipedia. To the wider public another version is much better known, and that’s the one by Madonna from 1997.
So the link, no question about that, is, to my great dismay (because I would have LOVED to see my other option), Madonna’s version of ‘Don’t Cry For Me Argentina’.
I mean, love ya for trying and all that, but it isn’t the link, and frankly Covington’s version pisses all over Madonna’s attempt, so Dirk: you shall (metaphorically) go to the (metaphorical) ball!
Brassed Off was on Film 4 the other night. It remains a thing of beauty. If you haven’t seen it, or even if you have, and have a couple of hours to kill (which, I think I’m safe in saying we all do at the moment) then you could do a lot worse than spend them watching this: it’s up to stream on the C4 app All4.
And that leaves just one thing: the unveiling of the next link in The Chain, and trust me, had anybody got this I would have been suspicious.
Here’s the official link from Tubthumping to the next record:
[Tubthumping] was once sung by Homer Simpson of cartoon fame. He also sang:
Your suggestions then, please, along with your explanation of how your suggestion links to Mellow Yellow by Donovan, via the Comments section below or, if you must, by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Minus points to anyone who suggests Coldplay. You’ve been warned.
You’ll recall there was no Friday Night Music Club last week, on account of me being too preoccupied with my fruitless efforts to get my new phone to work.
You’ll all be delighted to learn that I’ve got it sorted now. Just one ultimately embarrassing contact with my tax-avoiding network provider later, where they pointed out my Sim card wasn’t working because I hadn’t requested that they activate it yet, and I was up and running.
You’ll all be slightly less delighted to hear that in the interim period, I started thinking about songs which involved telephones or telephone calls. It occurred to me that there weren’t very many happy songs involving telephones: they all seemed to involve hoping someone would call, or someone not answering/pretending not to be home, or leaving messages on answering machines (that’s voicemail to you youngsters).
Before I knew it, I’d compiled a little playlist involving such songs, which I’m going to foist upon you all tonight.
Before we go any further though, my normal file sharing service is apparently having “internal issues” which is preventing me from uploading any of today’s songs. Maybe it’s some kind of protest at my selection, I dunno. So for tonight, we’re off back to the service I first used when I started writing this, Box. Hopefully, none of you will have any issues with playing or downloading (for evaluation purposes only, of course), but if you do, let me know and I’ll try and sort out a different link.
** ALL LINKS NOW AMENDED (I hope) **
OK, so, admin out of the way, to kick things off, here’s that there ABBA lot, with what is as close to an upbeat sounding song about telephones as I came across, where Agnetha, or maybe Frida, or maybe both, are pondering why their other half has not called them. Quite why they don’t just ask them – one of them is playing the guitar, the other the keyboard on the song they’re singing, after all – is beyond me:
Feargal – perhaps the reason she hasn’t used it, is because judging by the sleeve of the single, you appear to have given her the record’s catalogue number, rather than your actual telephone number. A schoolboy error.
ABBA and The Undertones are not alone in bemoaning the lack of contact from a potential beau. Here’s Macy Gray (remember her??):
Macy – at the risk of this turning into one long Agony Aunt page, I suspect that the reason you didn’t get a second date here is because according to the above, you have also confessed to admitting murder. If I’m honest, I’d probably think twice about getting back in touch if I knew that.
Some people, rather than simply sitting around moping about the fact their phone hasn’t rung, take matters into their own hands, and start hassling those they consider accountable:
Although, frankly, if a simple call to the operator makes you wonder whether they might be a more suitable life partner, I’d say that suggested you weren’t all that committed to idea of remaining with the person you were trying to call in the first place.
Now, I don’t wish to appear unsympathetic or unkind, but is it just me that thinks most of these people should be taking a hint?
Take Rialto, for example, who seem to be on the verge of a nervous breakdown at the absence of a reply:
All of this missed call, calls not being answered mullarkey could easily be avoided, and the hint taken a lot earlier, if some of these people moved off Pay As You Go and invested in a phone with a voicemail. Like Little Mix (and Missy Elliott), for example:
The chorus of “Ring Ring Ring (Ha Ha Hey)” is, of course, directly lifted from…no, sorry. I can’t bring myself to post it.
Instead, consider this: sometimes there’s a perfectly good reason why someone might not answer the phone. Here’s Paul Evans with your obligatory “Blimey, I’d forgotten all about that” record of the week:
Now, I love a good bracket as much as the next man. Unless that man is in a dress and called Hinge. But surely the (The Telephone Answering Machine Song) is the most superfluous addition to a song title ever. Firstly, I don’t think anyone has ever referred to them as Telephone Answering Machines. Secondly, it implies that listeners are too stupid to understand that’s what’s going on in the song and need to be reminded. Thirdly, while the answering machine theme is predominant throughout the song, surely if you’re going to treat your average record buying public as idiots, you may as well call it “Hello, This is Joannie (The One About The Girl Who Doesn’t Answer The Phone Because She’s Dead)”.
Look: when George “Shadow” Morton, Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich wrote The Shangri-Las “Leader of the Pack”, they didn’t feel the need to pop the words (The One Where She’s Going Out With A Wrong ‘Un Who Gets Killed While Riding His Motorcycle) on the end of the title, with good reason.
Plus: if we are to believe Paul Evans, he got drunk with Joannie, had an argument, let her drive home, and in between attempts to call her the next morning, wrote a glib ditty about how he couldn’t get through, finds out she’s dead, finishes the song off, and bemoans the fact that never again would he be able to kiss her “funny face”. Joannie sounds well off out of it, if you ask me.
And he looks like a grumpy Peter Powell.
Now then, question time. What’s worse than the following: not being called, being called too much, getting through to an answerphone, or your partner being killed before they can answer the phone?
Answer: being David Gedge, that’s what. Poor old lovelorn David is trying to call his girlfriend, and he gets through…to her sister, who, much to his humiliation, pretends she’s not home when she clearly is:
Remarkably, the shockwaves of me posting summery records for three consecutive days doesn’t seem to have had any detrimental effect on the weather – in fact if we’re to believe the weather forecasts it’s set to continue for the rest of the weekend.
So, I thought I’d give you a few more tunes to soundtrack your barbecues and beach parties over the next couple of days. Nothing terribly surprising in here, I don’t think, bar maybe one or two. But every one is an absolute pearler,
The first couple of songs pretty much sum up how my week working in That London has been. Here’s Sir William Broad, under his alter ego, the King of the Curled Lip:
I first came into ownership of both of these records at roughly the same time, when I was at 6th Form, where I took on the responsibility of providing tunes for the common room. There was a cheap and knackered old stereo in there, a turntable with a worn down belt that prohibited anything being played at the correct speed, and a radio that the aerial had long since perished on, and two tape decks, only one of which worked.
As you’ll find out soon – this is my definition of soon, mind – in the eponymous auto-biographical thread of this blog, it was at 6th Form that I forged my musical identity, if that doesn’t sound too pretentious, and I took great pleasure in preparing a new mixtape pretty much every night to grace the airs of the musty common room. My parents will doubtless recall me spending every night hunched over my Dad’s recently acquired Midi system, headphones on, studiously selecting a new set of tracks to dazzle my peers with instead of, say, doing my homework. It was these tapes, finely honed to ensure every taste was catered for, that I think laid the foundations for me starting to DJ a few years later – not the technical skills, mind, I’ve never got the hang of “proper” mixing – but the ability to tailor a set to an expectant, diverse crowd.
By the time the first summer arrived, at the end of my stint in the Lower 6th, I was, I felt, a fully fledged Indie kid, but didn’t want to be one of those people who forces their music down everyone’s throats, so I elected to temper the cool stuff with some more mainstream records. I would ask that you bear this in mind for coming posts, as this will be my defence for having purchased some pretty poor pop in the same period. It wasn’t for me, it was for those other kids who, y’know, wouldn’t know a cool record if it bit them on the arse.
As part of this campaign, I bought a Now! album – the only one I have ever purchased – Now! That’s What I Call Summer. It’s a mixed bag, as you’d expect, with Cliff Richard a little more prominent than is frankly necessary.
But there were an above average strike rate of good stuff on there too, and “Summer in the City” was chief among them, head and shoulders above many of the tracks featured.
In June 2000, fresh from picking up the Best New Act Award a year earlier at the Brits, through some pretty canny exploitation of voting via that there new-fangled internet thing, Belle & Sebastian released this absolute corker, which, if you’re unfamiliar with, may have you scratching your head as to why I’m including it in a summer mix. Well hold your horses, and give it until the lyrical refrain at the end:
The song has recently been used in a TV ad campaign by Aldi, and I can’t make up my mind whether that’s a good thing or not. Sure, it means that every now and then I get to hear it blasting from my TV for 40 seconds, but on the other hand – Aldi????? Is nothing sacred?? Whatever next – The Velvet Underground’s “Venus in Furs” being used to advertise Pirelli tyres? “Tame” by Pixies advertising Smirnoff vodka? Oh wait….both those things have happened…..
So, anyway, if you’re lucky, you’ll be spending some time soon on a beach somewhere, so here’s a few beachy heads which sound just as ace today as they did when they first came out, none of which require any introduction or comment from me:
Another one that featured on that Now! album, there. See, £4.99 well spent already (which dates me, obviously. A newly released double album on vinyl for £4.99 – them’s were the days…)
I was about to say “Now,onto something more contemporary”, which would be true, since the most recent tune I’ve posted so far came out sixteen years ago, but I was saddened to find this came out ten years ago. Saddened only in the sense that it means it’s ten years since I witnessed bass player Thomas “The House of Lords” Dartnall fall off the stage in Cardiff’s Barfly. *Sighs* “I grow old…I grow old…I shall wear the bottom of my trousers rolled.” (Bit of Prufrock for you there, poetry fans).
Still, it carries on thematically from Legal Man and Echo Beach in depicting a protagonist desperate to escape the drudge of an office job to enjoy some time soaking up the rays (NB: My boss should read nothing into this):
I have to say this is rapidly turning into my favourite thread of the week, and just to refresh memories/fill in newcomers, this is where we play the next record from 6Music’s Radcliffe & Maconie’s “The Chain” and invite your suggestions for what you would like to hear next that links to that record (along with an explanation of the link). And then cross our fingers that I already own it or can track down a copy. Oh, and if you want to have a guess at how the songs were linked on the radio show, feel free.
So, we left you last week with “Girl From Mars” by Ash, and we have two great, great suggestions, both of which link to the same band.
First up is George, who wrote:
Right. Here goes for Comment Showboating. I’ve got a link from Ash to The Fall. You’ll like this. The Ash album from which Girl From Mars comes is 1977. If you add up the digits of 1977 you get 24. And in the number 24, the “2” is next to the “4”. So you could say the “2” is by the “4”. Or 2 by 4. Track 2, side 1 from The Wonderful And Frightening World Of… by the Fall is 2×4.
Okay, two things to say about this. Firstly, and I think George knows this, I love Comment Showboating, particularly on this thread. So, please, if you’re going to make a suggestion, fill your boots, make it as convoluted as you like.
Secondly, George: that is just one of the most brilliant links I’ve ever read. How can I resist? (Clue: I can’t) Here’s the version lifted from the 6 CD opus that is The Fall’s Complete Peel Sessions:
Moving on to Dave aka The Great Gog who sent me this:
“Sticking with the planet / young female theme – there is “A Mercury Girl” by Cleaners From Venus (from 1987 album Going To England). Giles Smith from the band became a journalist and wrote an excellent book entitled Lost In Music. I believe that some sisters had a hit with a song of that title and of course, The Fall interpreted it in their own way on The Infotainment Scan. So there you go – a convoluted link and another excuse to post something from Mark E. Smith & co.”
Which gives me, albeit inadvertently, not one but two songs to post:
And the reasoning? “An ash is a type of tree. So is a cherry…”
Which, bearing in mind our suggestions, is a bit shit really, isn’t it?
So, ladies and gents, your suggestions please about what record you’d like me to post that links to KT Tunstall’s “Black Horse and the Cherry Tree”. Please leave your suggestions – and how you got to it – in the Comments box down below, and feel free to make it as Commenty McShowboatface or as simple and straight-forward as you like.
Oh, and George and Dave – loving your work, keep it up chaps. S’much appreciated.
On “Waiting For The Great Leap Forwards”, the closing track of his “Worker’s Playtime” album, Billy Bragg muses:
“Mixing Pop and Politics he asks me what the use is I offer him embarrassment and my usual excuses”
The question is one which is often brought when musicians make a political record, the inference being that there is no point in doing so, it will have no effect, they are preaching to the converted.
Politicians, however, seem to have a slightly different viewpoint, and try to bandwagon-jump onto whatever seems to be the current musical zeitgeist in an effort to curry favour.
For example: 1984 America. Ronald Reagan attempted to ride on the shirt-tails of Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in The USA”, blissfully unaware that the song is in part a tribute to Springsteen’s friends who had fought in the Vietnam War, some of whom did not return, and also protests about the hardships Vietnam veterans faced when returning home – hardly topics the Republican Reagan would want highlighting, you would think.
More recently, Adele requested that current candidate Donald Trump stop using her songs in his campaign. Trump’s had a bit of a tough week of it, as it goes, with the Pope wading in to tell him some of his suggestions were not particularly Christian. Which is actually one of the kinder things one could say about the weirdly-bouffanted madman.
Our politicians on this side of the pond are no better: remember Gordon Brown trying to claim he was a big fan of Artic Monkeys? Or Johnny Marr telling David Cameron that he isn’t allowed to like The Smiths?
But why do I mention this? Because several of these examples are about permission, or rather permission not being given.
This week’s selection of songs includes several which fall very firmly into what many people would describe as “Guilty Pleasures”, and regular readers will know that this is a term I very much disagree with. Part of my mission statement for this place is to reclaim these songs back, in the same way that the gay community have recaptured the term “Queer”. There should be nothing Guilty about gaining Pleasure from music, much less so from something so inoffensive and transient as pop songs.
So, I give you permission to like all that I post tonight. There. No need for you to feel bad now, okay?
But first, some housekeeping. We need to link last week’s loud choices to this week’s, so first a couple of tracks to bridge the weeks together.
And I’m not alone in my love of this song; in the millennium edition of his Festive Fifty, where John Peel, rather than cataloguing the best fifty records of the year, widened the scope to best fifty records ever, “Another Girl….” came in at Number 18. Can’t all be wrong, can we?
We’re not into “this is not a Guilty Pleasure” territory yet, by the way. Almost, but not quite.
And have you spotted a theme yet, dear listeners?
This will do it for you if you haven’t. The opening track from their second album, “Hypnotized”, a tongue in cheek opener if ever I heard one, given the lyrical content of much of their eponymous debut album:
The Undertones are touring again, minus Feargal Sharkey unfortunately.
Right. Here we go. The moment when my credibility and musical taste will get called into question. Let me make something very clear: I like all of the records I am about to post. I recognise that many of them are kitsch or cheesy, and almost all of them are not, or have never been, fashionable or cool. I’m with Danny Baker on the concept of cool:
So, yes I like these records, and I’m neither embarrassed nor do I feel guilty to admit it. I am out and I’m proud.
Ready? Prejudices left at the door? Good. Here we go then:
Relax ladies, they’re married. Actually, since this came out in 1979, they’re probably not anymore.
This reached the giddy heights of Number 2 in the UK, and Number 1 in Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa, all countries renowned for their good taste and modern views on feminism and equality.
Racey’s “Some Girls” actually comes from good stock: it was written by Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman, a song-writing/production due who reigned supreme in the 1970s and early 1980s, clocking up over fifty Top 40 hits, such as The Sweet’s “Blockbuster!”, “Teenage Rampage” and “Ballroom Blitz”; Suzi Quatro’s “Can The Can”, “48 Drive” and “Devil Gate Drive”; Mud’s “Tiger Feet” and “Lonely This Christmas”; Smokie’s “Living Next Door to Alice”; Toni Basil’s “Mickey”…the list is…well, not endless, but lengthy.
Something slightly, but only ever so, more contemporary now:
Get a grip. No not like that, put it away, you dirty boy.
Okay, part of the reason this is here is because the song title is the same as the Racey tune; but it’s here on its own merits too. This is from 2004, was produced by Richard X (more famous for that Sugababes “Freak Like Me”, Liberty X’s “Being Nobody” and Kelis “Finest Dreams” which all could easily have featured here tonight, and at least two of which will definitely appear on these pages in the future. You have been warned.), but cannot really be considered Miss Stevens’ finest moment.
If not this, then what would that be? Her founder membership of S Club 7? Nope. Her finishing 2nd on “Strictly Come Dancing” in 2008? Nope. Her involvement as a coach on “The Voice of Ireland”, the originally titled Irish version of “The Voice”? Nope. Her appearance in Series 5, Episode 1 of “Dick and Dom in da Bungalow”? Nope. The use of her 2004 version of porn star Andrea True’s “More More More” in a series of television adverts for SCS Sofas? Could be!
Is it just me that suddenly has this going through my mind now?:
Anyway. Back to the pop.
Some Girls has always reminded me of this, also from 2004:
Released at more or less the same time (I think the Goldfrapp single was marginally earlier), or at least close enough to “Some Girls” to negate any allegations of plagiarism anyway, I wonder what it is that makes Alison Goldfrapp be held up as a much-revered, credible artiste (which she is, and rightly-so) whilst Rachel Stevens is considered…well…less so. I can only think it is because of her earlier S Club career, which doesn’t exactly seem fair to me. Pop snobbery, is the phrase that springs to mind.
But whilst we’re back in what many will consider more acceptable waters (not me, all are equal), I give you this:
Glacier cool lady kraut-rock-esque vocals? Check. Uber-cool remix by Soulwax? Check. I love this, picking it up on a promo CD single in D’Vinyl Records, an absolute treasure trove of a second hand record store in the Roath area of Cardiff. If ever you’re down that way, pop in. I say pop in – you’ll be there for hours, I guarantee it. And you’ll come out financially poorer but culturally enriched by all of the goodies you’ll have unearthed.
And while we’re on Soulwax remixes, and since I mentioned them in passing earlier, have a go on this:
Another one I picked up in D’Vinyl. They do sell records that Soulwax haven’t got their greasy mitts on, I promise.
When Andy Warhol made that famous quote about everyone being famous for fifteen minutes, I very much doubt he realised that around 70% of them would be famous for being in Sugababes for fifteen minutes.
You may have noticed we’ve gone a bit girly. So, here is one hell of an all girl band, who in their early days were more about having a good time than being particularly proficient on their instruments:
This is one of those records that my brother and I both bought; he owned it first, of course, I went and got it after seeing them pop up on the Indie Chart section of The Chart Show, when it used to be on Channel 4 on a Friday evening, before it moved to Saturday lunchtimes on ITV. Now, like most music on British TV, it’s nowhere.
Anyway, what I love most about my version of this record is the fact it’s a 12″ and all 5 tracks are crammed onto one side. On the other side, this:
Not sure if that comes across well, but those are etched drawings of each of the girls in the band, or as eil.com call it a “1986 UK limited edition autographed and picture etched 5-track 12” ‘.
We’ve Got a Fuzzbox and We’re Gonna Use It resurfaced a few years later, with a truncated name (“Fuzzbox”) and a more glossy, polished sound and image, and frankly the appeal was gone for me by then. As Billy Bragg (yes, him again) said on his version of “Walk Away Renee” that I posted a while ago: “Then one day she cut her hair, and I stopped loving her”.
Moving on to 1991, and to the short-lived riot grrrl scene, and another all-girl band, named after the transport of choice for the heroine in Pedro Almodovar’s movie “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown”:
That’s one of the greatest song titles ever, and quite why I haven’t kept my powder dry and posted it in my “The One and Only” thread instead of here is beyond me.
Now, I have absolutely now idea how I came into possession of this next track. It wasn’t a single, it featured on the artistes only solo album, and even then only as a bonus track on the Japanese release of it.
It is, however, one of my favourite ever out-and-out pop songs, wittily skewing that revolting old sexist comment blokes make about shagging an ugly girl with a paper bag over her head. Here though, the roles are reversed; the singer is in a club having recently split with her ex, and to quote The Suit You salesmen from the Fast Show, she “wants it” – so much so that she pulls a guy with roughly the same build as her former beau, and takes him home on the condition that when they sleep together he wears a paper bag over his head:
Go on, just you try and listen to that without bouncing round the room and joining in the “Yeh Yeh”s in the chorus. You can’t can you?
Another Brit-poppy tune next, from a band who found their most commercial success around the same time, having previously flirted with the idea of fame and fortune in their shoe-gazey, ethereal phase a few years earlier:
Lush announced they would be reforming and playing some dates and releasing some new material in 2016; if they play this live, as they surely must, I’ll be regretting not getting tickets.
Okay, time to wrap things up for another week, and this one’s an absolute doozy. Released in 1983, co-written by Todd Rundgren and Stevie Winwood and featuring Carly Simon on vocals at the chorus, but mostly the brainchild of photographer-turned-singer/performer Lynn Goldsmith, this is a “How To” guide to ensuring your first date ends well:
Ok, so it’s 10 years today since John Peel died. I don’t think I can let that pass without comment.
It’s rare when I hear about someone famous passing on that I feel anything other than indifference. But when Peelie shuffled off this mortal coil, I felt cold. A veritable shiver. The light that would never go out, had.
I’d love to be able to relate some story now about how I met the Great Man and how it changed my life, but I don’t have one, because I never did. But here’s two things:
Once, not long before he died, he asked on his show who it was that did a song that mentioned Brian Rix’s trousers. In his usual slightly befuddled manner, he’d forgotten, and when you have as many tunes rattling around in your head as he did, one’s bound to fall out every now and then. I emailed him (as did many others) and he thanked me (and many others) on air for doing so. This is the song:
Ok so that’s not a great claim to fame. I don’t have anything better than that. But in 1989 I went to the Reading Festival, and on the Saturday John was acting as compere. I remember him reading the football scores out, but insisting on starting with the Scottish results, because they usually get left till the end and nobody really pays attention to them. And this strikes me as being a metaphor for his life’s work: bringing the previously unheard to the attention of the masses.
Yes he played a lot of tosh I wasn’t interested in (I’m looking at you, Bhundu Boys) but for every 10 songs he played, you got at least 2 or 3 that you’d never heard before and wanted to hear some more of.
I could make a really long list of the bands I first heard via Mr Peel. I won’t, but here’s some of them. My life is richer for having them, and the stuff I consequently checked out, in there. Cheers, John!