Tuesday Short Song

On Friday night, I received a Whatsapp message from my brother which read: “FYI this just came up in conversation, and I thought you might be interested in how long it is?”

Wash your minds out: we may be competitive, but not in that way, thank you very much.

Within the message was a link to this record:

If you ever find yourself in a conversation about who the most influential artists have been in the world of popular music, and the person you’re talking to offers the names The Beatles or The Rolling Stones, walk away, or enjoy belittling them, for they know nothing.

The Stones regularly cite old blues artists as influential, whilst The Beatles – and countless others around the same time – would name skiffle bands and artists, such as Lonnie Donegan.

Lonnie’s influence simply cannot be underestimated, if not in the musical style of those who adored him, but in the simple fact that he inspired so many to learn to play instruments. Skiffle in the 1950s was the same as Punk in the 1970s, it had its own DIY ethic, impacting on so many, guiding them to pick up, or even construct, their own rudimentary instruments. The (double) bass was a wooden box with a mop handle and a string attached, for Gawd’s sake. And Lonnie was at the forefront of this revolution.

In 1992, to mark 40 years of their publication, the NME released a triple CD where current (at the time) indie acts were asked to record a cover version of a #1 that meant something to them. It’s a bit of disappointment overall, to be honest, but one band stepped up to the plate to pay homage to Lonnie, and thankfully that band was The Wedding Present and when you hear this, everything I’ve just said will make sense. And in true Weddoes style, they rattle through it even faster than Lonnie did:

If that doesn’t persuade my Dad to listen to The Wedding Present, then nothing will.

More soon.

How To Do a Cover Version

When you’ve written a song which is universally recognised as a classic, and which has been covered over 150 times, then when you announce which your favourite cover version is, I would imagine the person responsible for the cover must feel pretty chuffed.

Such a little nugget was dropped on this week’s edition of Guy Garvey: From The Vaults, a show currently airing on Sky Arts, which has recently become a free-to-air channel (I’m not sure if this is a permanent arrangement, although I suspect it might be as it’s been given it’s own channel number on my tellybox, and another one shunted out of the way). It’s a channel – and a TV show – worth checking out, because they generally show gigs on a Saturday night, by the likes of Nick Cave and Pulp, to name just two.

As for From The Vaults, it features the avuncular Elbow singer introducing clips from ITV’s music TV vaults, not somewhere I would have thought particularly blessed with valuable content, but I was pleasantly surprised.

The first episode included some wonderful, never seen before footage of Kate Bush from when she first toured at the end of the 1970s, so good that I wished I’d made more of an effort (read: been able to afford) to go and see her when she finally got round to playing her second set of live dates a couple of years ago.

The classic song that I mentioned at the top of this post popped up in this week’s edition was this absolute beauty:

Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel – Make Me Smile (Come Up And See Me)

And here’s the footage they showed, snaffled from an appearance on The Russell Harty Show back in 1975:

You won’t be at all surprised to learn that the reason I mention all of this is not just to nudge you in the direction of a really good pop music archive show, but to give me an excuse to post the version of Make Me Smile that Mr Harley likes best out of all of them, as mentioned by Garvey on last night’s show (and he wouldn’t make it up, now would he?),from their 1990 3 Songs EP:

The Wedding Present – Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me)

He’s a man of great taste, is Mr Harvey.

Guy Garvey: From The Vaults airs at 9:00pm (UK Time) on a Friday night, is doubtless repeated at least once, and the whole series is currently available to stream via NOWTV.

More soon.

Sticky

For a while now, every now and then, I would receive a message from a concerned reader, asking whether everything was ok, and telling me they hoped I started writing again.

This confused me, since bar the odd day or two here and there, I’ve been posting stuff much more regularly than I have for ages.

And then I realised that all of these messages had been left as comments on the same post, which I wrote way back in May this year.

So I investigated, and it turns out said post was the last time I “stuck” a post to the top of the blog. This is a function available here on WordPress which I never used to tick when completing a post, but when I noticed it, I figured it ensured that when people visit my blog it would be the first post they saw.

Which it does. I mean I have to commend them, it works brilliantly.

But this function is akin to having a Pinned Tweet on your timeline on Twitter. And because I then began ticking the “Stick Post to the Top of the Blog” box for a couple of months, throughout pretty much all of April and May, that meant that all of those “stuck” posts appeared, in sequence, before anything else more recent that I’ve posted appears.

So I spent Tuesday night going through them all and making them…erm…unsticky. Normal service should now resume.

And here’s two songs which were rattling round my head as I was doing it, the first of which is another track by the recently featured Little Boots which, as with the last tune I posted by her, it doesn’t seem to have got a commercial release, remaining reserved for white label affcianados :

And this one, the tenth single from The Wedding Present’s Hit Parade series, where they released one limited edition 7″ single at the start of each month for a whole year:

Apologies to those hoping to hear either Lionel Richie or Huey Lewis and The News.

More soon.

Tuesday Short Song

Back in 2017, to mark the 30th anniversary of the original release of their wonderful George Best album, The Wedding Present – by which I mean founder member, stalwart and only remaining original member David Gedge – invited Steve Albini to record and produce an entirely new version of the album.

The results are really quite impressive, breathing new life into not-exactly-tired-sounding originals, making them sound much more like live studio recordings.

And, even more surprisingly (given their initial brevity), managing to shorten some of the tracks, including this one, which now ducks just underneath the two-minute ticker tape required to permit it entry into this series:

More soon.

At The Edge of The Sofa

Ordinarily, once a year Brighton’s Concorde 2 venue plays host to At The Edge of The Sea, a three-day music festival curated by The Wedding Present’s main man David Gedge.

Sadly, due to the Covid crisis, this year’s event wasn’t able to take place.

Instead, we got the rebranded At The Edge of The Sofa, a virtual festival, hosted by Gedge from his living room.

This included the Locked Down and Stripped Back sessions, a selection of career-spanning live perfomances by the current Wedding Present line-up, all recorded seperately from their own boudoirs.

Without fail, they’re all just marvellous. Much as I like the newer stuff, it’s the older tracks which I have an unmoveable place in my heart, and so here’s three absolute corkers, all given yet another faultless rework:

You can stream both days of the virtual festival via the band’s YouTube page, here (subscription required) or, if you just want to watch Gedge and the Gang do their stuff, you can do so here. And I really can’t think of a reason why you wouldn’t want to.

I’d recommend you do, if for no other reason than to realise Gedge looks quite the silver fox now.

There is mention of these getting a commercial release at some point in the future, so watch this space.

More soon.

Tuesday Short Song

One of the great things about working from home, and thus not electing to have another half an hour in bed or rushing to catch a bus, is that I’ve been able to watch the re-runs of Cheers on Channel 4.

When I was younger, Cheers was a staple of our Friday night for Friday night was Mum-and-Dad-have-gone-to-the-pub night (we were old enough to be left alone, before anyone asks. Four is old enough, right?) and so, suddenly allowed control of the remote, this is what we would watch together. If one of us was feeling particularly brave, they’d sit in Dad’s chair.

Anyway, I don’t think I could have fully appreciated it back then, for watching it now I’m blown away by how great it is. I mean, I knew it was a funny show back then, but I guess I get more of the more adult jokes now, and, having spent more than my fair share of time propping up bars in the intervening years, can probably identify and empathise with Cliff and Norm a lot more.

Which leads me here: I think they’re on the fourth volume of Marc Riley sessions by now, this is from the first (they’re all wonderful, of course):

The Wedding Present – The Theme from ‘Cheers’: Where Everybody Knows Your Name

Yeh, I thought I would have posted the George Best 30 version of Shatner before this too; funny how things pan out, isn’t it?

More soon.

Bad News Comes in Threes

When, at the end of January, I first posted about my best friend Llyr’s passing, it attracted many lovely comments.

Something happened last week which reminded me of one them, which JTFL (that’s Johnny the Friendly Lawyer to you and me) had posted: “Oh, man. It really pours.”

For just as I thought my year couldn’t get any shittier, a letter from the letting agency I rent my flat through landed on my doormat.

This is what it said:

Please find enclosed an official notice confirming that possession will be required at the end of the notice period.”

The notice informed me I had two months in which to find somewhere else to live and, somehow magically, conjure up a deposit/bond for the new place.

I believe the phrase is: Oh. Fuck.

Some background info: last year, after six years of me not exactly complaining about cracks in the walls and ceiling, but certainly mentioning it to the letting agency I rent through, suddenly something happened. The matter was referred to the landlord’s buildings insurers, who did some testing, identified the issue and rectified it.

They now wished to come into my flat, do whatever repairs were required, and then redecorate.

This is quite an unusual situation for a tenant; usually any redecoration happens between tenancies, but here was an insurance company offering to redecorate whilst a tenant was in situ.

Obviously, I wanted to assist, and it was agreed that I would vacate the flat for a short period, roughly two weeks, whilst the works were done. All of my worldly belongings would be placed into storage, and I would be placed in a Travelodge or similar for the duration.

Inconvenient though it was, I was on board with this. To be honest, I was looking forward to an Alan Partridge “Big Plate” kind of scenario.

So I started packing all of my stuff away.

And then I was admitted to hospital, and everything ground to a halt.

As regular readers will know, since my discharge from hospital, I’ve been experiencing pain and loss of strength in my arms, and pain and loss of grip/function in my hands. Investigations into this are ongoing (I had a PET scan this week), but this prevented me from continuing to pack my stuff away.

Over the past couple of weeks, however, I’ve noticed a real improvement. I can open some bottles and jars which I couldn’t before. I have to take fewer painkillers. I’m gradually increasing my hours at work. There’s an upwards trajectory.

What I should have done was notify the letting agents/the landlord of my current condition, but I didn’t.

Hence the repossession notice.

I understand why it happened: they thought I wasn’t playing ball anymore, so decided the only way to progress matters (and get the insurers to pay for the repairs and redecoration) was to get me out.

A flurry of emails ensued, including one where I explained all that most of you have read on these pages recently about my ill-health, apologising profusely for failing to keep them in the loop.

And then, thankfully, the much-welcomed news came through: the landlord would revoke the repossession notice (not said, but implicit: as long as I played ball with the redecoration stuff).

So, I’m going nowhere (except to the delights of a Travel Tavern, somewhere in my locality, taking my big plate with me).

Phew. Bullet dodged.

This song springs to mind:

pleasure

Girls At Our Best – Getting Nowhere Fast

Which, of course, I only know of because of this cover version:

theweddingpresent

The Wedding Present – Getting Nowhere Fast

Although this one springs to mind too:

Therapy+Nowhere-47092

Therapy? – Nowhere

I am, of course, mindful, that had my email appeal not been succesful, then this, absolutely wonderful, long-forgotten song would have been a far more appropriate tune:

lodger

Lodger – I’m Leaving

I’ve been trying to find a reason to post that for ages, without tarring it with the Brexit brush. Result!

When I found out that my persuasive skills had prevailed, I called my parents, who were obviously on notice of the situation. My mother seemed unsurprised; when I was growing up she had to deal with many pointless arguments with me, insufferable teenager that I was. Not just a bit like, but a lot like this:

I emailed the insurers on Wednesday, inviting them to call or email me so matters could progress. No reply as of yet.

More soon.

La Singe est sur la Branch

A long time ago, in a galaxy not so far, far away, I used to post a thing on a Friday night called Friday Night Music Club.

The intent was to try and recreate some playlists I made when times were hard and staying in (and drinking, maybe dancing but hopefully singing-a-longing) were the only goals.

I stopped writing it when it metamorphised into ten tunes with a linking theme, and I realised that Rol over at My Top Ten already did pretty much the same thing, much better. Props to the originator and all that.

Anyway, one of the themes I focused on way back then (for way too long, if memory serves) was song titles with a question in it. And looking back, I find it bordering on incredible that I missed out today’s tune, which I was reminded of when 6Music tweeted this the other night:

q

This one:

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The Wedding Present – Why Are You Being So Reasonable Now?

Not least because it would have been an opportunity for me to bang on about Remain and illustrate it by posting the French version, which popped up as an extra track on the CD single version:

r-597306-1293311184_jpeg

The Wedding Present – Pourquoi Es Tu Devenue Si Raisonnable?

Still, now I get to sound bilingual (which I’m not) and a fan of Eddie Izzard (which I am):

Plus a venir. (More soon)

The ‘Miss You’ Nights Are The Longest

Other than the obvious health issues, the thing which has annoyed me most about my current condition is the amount of nights out that I’ve missed.

It was my office Christmas night out this week, and despite assurances from Kay that senior management had said it was okay for me to go, I didn’t think it appropriate for someone who hasn’t been to work since late October and who’s been signed off work until early January to attend it.

More than that, my group of best buddies here in London traditionally have a night out every year, where we drink, sing and occsionally dance. This annual event used to be held in The Dublin Castle in Cardiff (ooops!) Camden, but over the past couple of years has moved to The Effra in Brixton. Despite the appearance I may have given by writing lots of posts on here in the past couple of weeks, I’m by no means fully recovered yet (I’ll explain in one of my hospital-related posts shortly) and just not up to it (note: as opposed to up for it, which I definitely am), and so I’ll sadly be missing out this year. Guys, girls: I love you all, and hope you have a blast without me, implausible as that may seem.

But much as I love my friends, even worse than that is missing a load of gigs I had tickets for.

For a start, a few months ago, before I was taken ill, my longest serving (30+ years and still going strong) friend Richie got in touch to see if I fancied going to see Johnny Marr at The Roundhouse. I’d seen Johnny a few years ago at Brixton Academy and loved every minute of it, so I of course agreed. Richie bought tickets, but around a week before the gig, reality kicked in and, extremely reluctantly,I had to let him know my attendance was not going to be possible.

This, lifted from a 6Music performace back in 2014, seems appropriate to post:

p0282jjf
“What do you mean, you’re not coming?”

Johnny Marr – Still Ill (BBC 6 Music)

When Richie bought the tickets for Johnny, rather than paying him for them, I suggested a gig which I’d pay for. That gig happens tonight in Islington’s O2 Academy, and is long-time beloved of us both The Wedding Present, performing their 1988 album Tommy. Again, I had to let Richie know at the weekend that I couldn’t go, but, nice guy that I am, I insisted that was no reason for him and +1 not to go, so I forwarded the tickets on to him this week. Richie: Merry Christmas – I hope they get to you in time, and if so, that you have ruddy swell old time.

Tommy, according to Wikipedia, is a compilation album “gathering the band’s first four singles, their B-sides and selected tracks from two early radio sessions.”

It includes this piece of majestic anguish:

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Galling as it is is missing out on those two gigs, they pale into comparison with my not being able to go a three-night stand at Camden’s Electric Ballroom by Teenage Fanclub.

The gigs had been arranged in support of the release of the remastered versions of the albums they released…well, this explains it nicely:

39913970_1138736429620804_7818673553582063616_n

To make matter worse, it turned out that the gigs woud also mark the end of original member and significant song-writer Gerard Love’s involvement with the band. So, here’s a Love-penned tune from each of those remastered albums:

cover

Teenage Fanclub – Star Sign (Remastered)

cover

Teenage Fanclub – Commercial Alternative (Remastered)

grand

Teenage Fanclub – Don’t Look Back (Remastered)

cover

Teenage Fanclub – Take the Long Way Round (Remastered)

cover

Teenage Fanclub – I Need Direction (Remastered)

Gutted.

If you’d like to read a review of the Glasgow gigs from this tour, I’d thoroughly recommend visiting the ever-wonderful Plain or Pan. It made me sick, not just about what I’d missed out on, but how well written it is, neither of which should have surprised me in the slightest.

More soon.

I’m Not To Keen On Mondays

Here we go, here we go, here we go. Football, football, football.

I’m not getting carried away, of course. Disappointment is just round the corner.

In the run up to the World Cup, the History Channel showed a load of football related documentaries, including one which I absolutely love: One Night in Turin.

It’s a truly spectacular documentary, explaining where England was back in 1990, with football hooliganism prominent and ID cards mooted. Plus, it’s narrated by Gary Oldman, which gives it a bit of gravitas.

We all know how it ends, of course; Chris Waddle blazes his penalty over the bar, but there’s a really wonderful few moments after that, as the camera tracks him, and you see the German captain Lothar Matthäus come and console him not once, but twice.

And the film has a great soundtrack too, cherry-picked from songs which were popular and/or cool back in 1990.

As you watch it, the tunes keep coming and they take you back as much as the footage does.

And then, suddenly, this morning’s tune clang clang clangs its way in, and I have the biggest, stupidest grin on my face. Because that’s what this record does to me. And to you, probably.

I said that yesterday’s Late Night Stargazing post featured one of the greatest records ever made; turns out I’m posting another one today. I’m not sure how long I can keepy this up for. (No, you’re right, that doesn’t quite work, does it?).

Incoming.

Kennedy Front

The Wedding Present – Kennedy

More soon.

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