The Chain #40

So there I was for the past few weeks, writing a load of posts which linked various songs together somehow, chuckling away to myself that nobody had noticed I was dropping subtle clues that I was going to be bringing this series back, when what do you know, I went and over-egged it, and was thoroughly busted by The Robster, then The Swede, then Alyson, then Rol all airing their suspicions. And that was before I posted this afternoon’s less than subtle final hint.

The busting that really got me, though, was Kay, who asked me if I intended to start writing it again. Until I corrected her last week, Kay thought it was possible to fast forward through the adverts on live television broadcasts, so I figured if she’d worked it out, I’d better come clean.

There’s two reasons I had started thinking about bringing The Chain back: firstly, I’d decided that if and when I did, it would revert back to being on a Wednesday night again, it’s rightful home, but Series 3 of Fargo had been so good I wanted to wait until that finished; and secondly, the sudden recent demise of When You Can’t Remember Anything, one of the finest blogs around. As regular readers will know, not only were Badger and SWC (or is it SWC and Badger? I always suspected they had to stand a certain way round, a la Ant & Dec, so folks would know which was which) long time contributors to The Chain, but they also ran their own points-earning-invite-a-suggestion series on a Saturday morning – and you had to get up bloody early to be in with a shout of posting something that hadn’t already been suggested. So, with that, and them, gone, I felt the time was about right to bring this back. Oh and chaps, if you’re ready this, feel free to chip in like the good old days.

Now: The Chain last made a (proper) appearance back on March 19th, so it’s had a good rest, as have I. And I imagine that there may be some folks reading this who have no idea what this is about, so I’ll recap on the rules (which luckily I did back in March after a much shorter break, so I’ll thank the Gods of Copy and Paste):

The Chain is a feature on BBC 6Music’s Radcliffe and Maconie show (and prior to that, their show on BBC Radio 2), where a record is played and they invite suggestions as to what record could be played next, which must link in some way to the one just played.

The difference here is that whilst they choose just one record to play, we try to post all of the suggestions which you submit.

The only rules are:

  1. No suggested record can ever feature twice (unless it has only featured as part of The Official Chain, as opposed to having been suggested by someone previously). If you’re not sure – ask! (NB – I’ve never got round to finishing the definitive list of everything that has featured here…let’s call it a work in progress…)
  2. The only other exception to this rule is “Back on the Chain Gang” by The Pretenders, which has been adopted as our theme tune, and which can be nominated as often as you like (as long as a solid link between it and the source record is provided)
  3. Make your suggestions by way of the Comments section at the bottom of this post, making sure that you tick the box marked “Notify Me of new comments via email” Your email address will not be displayed to anyone, not even me.
  4. When making your suggestion, you must provide an explanation of the link between the two songs
  5. You must already own a copy of it, and be willing to provide it (in case I don’t already own it or am unable to source it). I will ask you to supply this via a response to your suggestion Comments (hence the bit about ticking the notification box)
  6. Suggestions must be more than just naming a different song by the same artist. You’re clever than that.
  7. You can make as many suggestions as you like, but please, go easy on me, won’t you?
  8. Don’t be offended if I disqualify your request, although you won’t know I’ve done this until the next post where there will be some gentle ribbing (the name of Durex’s least commercially successful contraceptive).
  9. Even if your song is posted, be prepared for a gentle ribbing anyway. We like a gentle ribbing round these parts.
  10. Submissions will be welcome up until the next edition is posted. But please try not to send them to me late on a Wednesday evening, just in case I am in the middle of writing it and have to rejig the running order.

That’s about it. I award points every now and again, for Worst Record of the Week, Cheesiest Record of the Week, Comment Showboat of the Week, and of course, for anyone who happens to guess either the song or act (or both) that is the next record in the Official Chain, which becomes the source record for the following week’s post. Nobody’s keeping score (well, I’m not anyway), the points are just a bit of fun.

Oh and there’s just one more thing (my trademark Columbo impression, there): I signed off the last edition with the words: “Let’s say that will be next week, and see what happens, eh?” Wise words indeed. I’m not going to promise this will be back every Wednesday, but that’s the plan at the moment. I’ll see what I can do.

Okay, so perhaps we should start off by reminding everybody of the last song in the Official Chain, which is our starting point this week:

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39. Small Faces – The Universal

Now, there was a little controversy over my presentation of this last time, as I posted the song in question under the cover art for their “Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake” album. This was shrewdly picked up on by The Great Gog, who pointed out that it wasn’t on the original release of that album, and he was right, as he often is.

The thing is, the source song from The Chain #38 was “The Universal” by Blur, so had I figured I’d post the “Ogden…” sleeve to give you all a bit more to get your teeth into. Y’know, before I ignored you all for five months. It is on one of the reissued, repackaged, remastered releases that has surfaced in the almost fifty years since the album first came out. And anyway, it’s my game, so if I want to exert a little artistic licence then I shall.

Here’s your first suggestion, courtesy of Charity Chic of Charity Chic Music (yup, it would appear that the C key on my keyboard works fine):

“From Small Faces to Angels with Dirty Faces by Sham 69 please.”

See, that’s the way to do it. Short, to the point, and polite. (Not that I have any objections to long, rambling suggestions, of course, as you will doubtless see).

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Sham 69 – Angels With Dirty Faces

Let’s crack on with a round up of all the suggestions which linked to Small, Faces or Small Faces (sort of, loosely, with a few diversions), and I’ll hand you over to Rigid Digit of Stuff & Nonsense fame:

“Small Faces’ first hit was ‘What’cha Gonna Do About It’, written by Ian Samwell. He also invented British Rock ‘n’ Roll by penning ‘Move It'”

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Cliff Richard – Move It

As mentioned earlier on, compiling a list of everything which has featured on The Chain thus far remains a work in progress (we’re on over 1000 songs, and counting now, so you can see the size of the task ahead of me); but you may be surprised to learn that so far Old Turtleneck is, I think, the second most suggested artist. There are no points on offer for guessing who is the most suggested (sorry, George!)

Rigid came up with another, slightly less fact-based suggestion, presented here in the form of a sort of rubbish multiple choice question:

“Small Faces were named because:

(a) they hadn’t yet reached the top of the Mod Hierarchy (i.e. they weren’t yet Faces, they were still Numbers – albeit high ranking ones – but there was already a band called the High Numbers, and

(b) they were all short (Steve Marriott was 5′ 1″, Ian McLagan was 5′ 0″, and Kenney Jones and Ronnie Lane were both 4′ 7″).

Pixies are also short.”

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Pixies – Here Comes Your Man

Not the only Pixies suggestion of the week, as it goes, more to follow.

Over to Dirk from sexyloser and the much admired organiser of the Bloggers Summit that happened a few months ago, which I was immensely flattered to be invited to but, alas, could not attend:

“I must admit I couldn’t remember this Small Faces tune and I could neither be arsed to download it nor to search for the ‘Best Of’ – CD of theirs I have somewhere. So instead I had a look at YouTube and found out that there’s a dog barking at approx. 1:05 minutes. An even better tune with a dog barking in it – albeit not at 1:05, no, at 2:27 minutes instead – is The Clash’s ‘Somebody Got Murdered’ … a link which – again, mind you – will please my friend George mightily, I suspect!”

Poor old Cliff; every time he pulls a goal back, the bloody Clash go and score again:

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The Clash – Somebody Got Murdered

The Robster from Is This The Life? chipped in with a factoid at this point:

“The dog you hear actually belonged to Steve Marriot. He became something of a session player, also appearing on Pink Floyd’s album ‘Meddle’ in a song they named after him – ‘Seamus’.”

Now unless I’m missing something, there was no actual suggestion from The Robster this time around, so I’ll take that as being it. Please don’t forget your homework again.

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Pink Floyd – Seamus

Anyway, since we’re on The Clash, how about we get them out of the way completely, if for no other reason than so that George can relax and postpone taking his blood pressure medication for a while.

Here’s Julian from Music from Magazines:

“Small Faces might have small hands as allegedly Trump has, to be honest The Clash summed it up…”

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The Clash – I’m So Bored of the U.S.A.

I’m writing this part of The Chain on Tuesday night, and as I typing, this message has flashed up on my phone:

Trump

So, y’know, good job I’m not promising to be back next week. At this rate, none of us will be….

…And we’re back in the room.

Now, one thing I’ve learned since I started writing The Chain is not to interrupt Jules when his brain is ticking over, especially as that usually coincides with a) him having a drink, b) chucking out time, or c) both.

“The American President is known as POTUS the first Lady as FLOTUS which happens to be the title of the latest…… Lambchop album”

Jules suggesting a Lambchop track, who’d have thunk it? Here’s the song he selected from said album, in it’s full 18:12 glory:

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Lambchop – The Hustle

Back to Rigid again, piping up:

“Or…”

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Floaters – Float On

“…(particularly the Lenny Henry version)…” By which he means this:

Although personally, it’s a song which always reminds me of this:

Dear Cadburys: should you wish to reward me for the free advert by granting me a year’s supply of your yummy Crème Eggs, I can be contacted by email. But be warned: I’m a greedy fat bastard, and your idea of a year’s supply is likely to be very different to mine.

But wait, Jules isn’t done yet. In fact, you can practically hear his brain fizzing and he starts riffing:

“A final onslaught

‘Universal Hall’ by The Waterboys is a cracking number…

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The Waterboys – Universal Hall

“…and so is ‘The Whole of the Moon’ which name checks the film ‘Brigadoon’ starring Gene Kelly famous for singing ‘Singing in the Rain’…Um…WATERboys…singing in the RAIN what can it mean….?

Your choice: “

I choose all of those that you suggest, if only to prove I don’t mind how many songs you suggest (at the moment, give it a week or so…), and because I could tell all of that was just to get me to post something by this lot:

1 Wet Wet Wet?
Any shit..”

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Wet Wet Wet – Sweet Little Mystery

(I can tell you’re a big fan…I’ve seen you dancing like Marti Pellow…)

To quote Belle & Sebastian:

“We all know you’re soft cos we’ve all seen you dancing
We all know you’re hard cos we’ve all seen you drinking from noon
Until noon again”

(I know you didn’t actually suggest that song, but it’s a strong contender for the Cheesiest Song of the Week gong…)

“2 The Beatles
Rain…?”

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The Beatles – Rain

“3 New Musik
This World of Water…?”

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New Muzik – This World of Water

“…Or

4 Michael P Hinson
The Day Texas Sank To The Bottom Of The Sea…”

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Micah P. Hinson – The Day Texas Sank To The Bottom Of The Sea

Right that’s that little flurry of Jules’ Gems taken care of, what’s next?

Only Alex G of notoriously salad-free We Will Have Salad, that’s who:

“From Small Faces, I tried to come up with the smallest thing I could think of that has a face, and naturally I thought of Midge Ure.

I’ll rephrase that.

From Small Faces, I tried to come up with the smallest thing I could think of that has a face, and I thought of midges. And having looked them up and established to my own satisfaction that midges do indeed have an arrangement of features on the front of their heads which would pass for faces, that naturally leads me to Midge Ure. In the spirit of this blog, I suggest his little-remembered 1991 semi-hit “Cold Cold Heart”, which I liked enough at the time to buy it, though it leaves me cold (ha!) now.”

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Midge Ure – Cold, Cold Heart

Can I be unkind enough to suggest there’s a very good reason why that’s little-remembered…?

But fear not, Alex, you’re nowhere near nominating the Worst Record of the Week, not by a long chalk.

Over to the When You Can’t Remember Anything boys, and I don’t know whether this was suggested by SWC or Badger, so we’ll credit it to a hybrid of the two, to Swadger if you will:

“If we are talking about faces then the first port of call should be ‘Poker Face’ by Lady Gaga. Just because it’s ace.”

Which it is, of course:

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Lady Gaga – Poker Face

Remember a while ago, I said there would be more Pixies featuring this week? Well here they are, courtesy of…well, me, as it goes:

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Pixies – Broken Face

When I’m deciding on the running order, I break them down into the categories and then kick myself because I never remember to make a note of who it was that made the next suggestion, and so have to furiously scroll through the last edition to try and remember. With one exception (bar Jules’ obligatory Lambchop suggestion, that is).

Yup, it’s time for George to round off the Face section in style:

“From Small Faces, to masks (that tend to be worn on faces) to ‘Trout Mask Replica’, and ‘Moonlight on Vermont’.

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Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band – Moonlight on Vermont

Now on to what I think we can call a bridging link. Here’s Walter from A Few Good Times In My Life:

“If I ever listen to Small Faces it takes me back to the good old days with Rod Stewart. So it is easy to go to his second album under his own name. ‘Gasoline Alley’ might be the best he ever made. Torn between ballads and rockers. So I have to suggest ‘Jo’s Lament’ or ‘Good Old Country'”

Now, before any of you pedants pull Walter up and argue that Stewart was never in Small Faces, I’ve checked and strictly speaking, Walter is correct:

After Small Faces split, Lane, Jones and McLagan joined forces with Stewart and guitarist Ronnie Wood., but this line-up dropped the “Small” from their name and just became known as Faces. Their record company, however, were not happy, wanting to capitalise on the band’s earlier success by retaining their old name. The band stayed firm, arguing that the personnel changes meant this was an altogether different group from Small Faces. In the end, a compromise was reached: the new line-up’s first album in the UK was credited as ‘First Step’ by Faces, while in the US the same album was released as ‘First Step’ by Small Faces.

Hope that’s cleared that up.

Here’s Walter’s suggestion:

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Rod Stewart – Jo’s Lament

What that means, of course, is that we’re now into the territory of links to members of Small Faces, and here Charity Chic again:

“Steve Marriott was a member of the Small Faces. There is a hotel chain called the Marriott. I have stayed in one at LAX Airport. So they have Hotels in California.

 If you can’t face the Eagles [I could…] there is also a version by Alabama 3 […which I’d much rather post]

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Alabama 3 – Hotel California

Time to welcome The Great Gog now, who picks up the theme:

“Picking up from the Marriott hotel chain – this is mentioned in a song – Mark Ronson’s ‘Record Collection’, where Simon Le Bon sings the line ‘I get preferential treatment at the Marriott’. I got heartily sick of this tune at the time of FIFA 11, as it was on the soundtrack and my youngest, then aged 10, was constantly wanting to beat me at it – happy memories of having to be a Belgian 2nd Division team whenever we played!”

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Mark Ronson And The Business Intl – Record Collection feat. Simon Le Bon

Over to Abramson60 with a typically brief suggestion:

“Steve Marriott was born in Manor Park, which could have fetched us back to Blur and Parklife, but no. How about the Ruskin Arms the famed manor Park boozer that was instrumental in the rise of Iron Maiden, again no as I have never understood their appeal. Manor made me think of Ill Manors but despite having seen the film really can’t say much about the music, though did like the early stuff from Plan B. After all this rambling I thought of the Manor studios, something to do with a younger Richard Branson I believe, so two suggestions, both recorded at the said Manor. Something very un-PC from Supercharge and the ‘Local Lads Made Good’ album, ‘She Moved The Dishes’ first, maybe not everyone’s cup of tea, a re-listen made me think of certain elements of Frank Zappa’s work.”

I think we’ll have to agree to disagree about this one Abramson, not my cup of tea, but that doesn’t preclude it from getting an airing here. To me, it sounds like someone trying to sound like Vivian Stanshall and/or the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, but what do I know?

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Supercharge – She Moved The Dishes First

Anyway, you mentioned two suggestions, what’s the other one?

“Manic Street Preachers also visited the manor to record their second LP Gold Against The Soul which contains a song that always brings a smile to my face ‘La Tristesse Durera’.”

Now that’s more like it!

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Manic Street Preachers – La Tristesse Durera (Scream To A Sigh)

That’s the Marriott’s all wrapped up. What about Ronnie Lane?

Here’s Martin from New Amusements:

“Steve Marriott introduced Ronnie Lane as “Leafy Lane” on one of their albums, and a Leafy Lane probably has lots of shade, so let’s go with…”

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Pavement – Shady Lane

Actually, Martin didn’t get to that suggestion straightaway. No, instead he got to Pavement by way of…well…like this (which I’m including simply because we have nothing else to link to drummer Kenney Jones):

“My first thought is that Small Faces’ drummer Kenney Jones later joined The Who after Keith Moon’s death. No Moon maybe implies eclipse, but no, I’m not pitching anything by Bonnie Tyler.”

Of course you weren’t. And why would you, when you clearly are angling for me to post this:

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Nicki French – Total Eclipse Of The Heart

Just what the world needed back in 1995, that. A terrible, hi-energy, Europop version of a song which was only ever sung in the shower by anyone other than Bonnie anyway.

Anything else that you’re definitely not going to suggest, Martin..?

“A new Moon (perhaps on a Monday?) No, I’m not pitching that, by Duran Duran, either.”

Yes, I know who “New Moon on Monday” is by, Martin. (Gentle ribbing. Yummy!) And for that, here it is:

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Duran Duran – New Moon on Monday

So that’s Marriott, Lane and Jones ticked off the list, what about Ian McLagan?

Step forward The Beard, with a suggestion which hands down wins the Best Link of the Week:

“The Small Faces keyboardist Ian McLagan died in Austin, Texas. Steve Austin, The Six Million Dollar Man, was played by Lee Majors. He also played Colt Seavers in The Fall Guy and, a la Dennis Waterman, crooned the theme tune, The Unknown Stuntman.”

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Lee Majors – The Unknown Stuntman (Theme from ‘The Fall Guy’)

No, of course I didn’t own that already…..honestly…

And then, just when we thought we’d exhausted all of the possibilities relating to the band’s personnel, George is back:

“The Small Faces’ first manager was Don Arden. The charming Mr Arden, not at all a thug or bully, in a meeting with Robert Stigwood (another would-be band manager) threatened to throw him out of a window, Robert Stigwood was the manager of Cream, so I suggest their single ‘Badge’.”

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Cream – Badge

Hang on a minute. I used to have a catchphrase for situations like this. Can’t seem to place my hands on it now. I’m sure I left it around here somewhere.

Wait a minute will you?

Found it!

*Clears throat*

Well, if you’re suggesting that, then I’m suggesting this:

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Prince & The New Power Generation – Cream

Okay, where next? Well, let’s take a step back to Ronnie Lane, and we’ll hand over to babylotti:

“Ronnie Lane was in the Small Faces, then the Faces, but it’s Ronnie Lane’s Slim Chance & their version of ‘Ooh La La’ I’m going to suggest first. One of my favourite songs and about the only song that makes me wish I could play guitar so I could annoy people at open mics with it.”

No, no, no – learn to play it then take it house parties, or even better, on camping holidays. Much more annoying, although with potentially more things to throw at you to make you shut up.

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Ronnie Lane & Slim Chance – Ooh La La

And here we go, off on a tangent, which is exactly what brings us here:

“From there I’m going to suggest Goldfrapp’s own ‘Ooh La La’…”, babylotti continues:

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Goldfrapp – Ooh La La [Single Version]

“… and as I’ve gone there, I’m going to wring it to death like a dog & it’s favourite toy & suggest ‘Ooh La La’ by The Wiseguys, a song I used to love playing when DJ’ing and one of Mrs Lotti’s favourite tunes…”

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The Wiseguys – Ooh La La

At which point, Rigid reappears:

“After reading ‘Ooh La La’ that many times, I now have Kool and The Gang ‘Ooh La La La (Lets Go Dancing)’ lodged firmly in my brain”

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Kool & The Gang – Let’s Go Dancin’ (Ooh La La La)

Time for a refresher or two. You’ll recall that right at the top of this post I wrote that Small Faces’ “The Universal” was the second song in a row we’d had a song called “The Universal” to link to? Well Alyson from What’s It All About? came up with a way of linking the word in those two titles that isn’t ‘Universal’:

“There are 2 x Universals next to each other in The Chain but also 2 x the word The. Something from The The…?”

Pressed to choose a song by them, she asked this, which I vetoed at the time as I’d not long since featured it on these pages….but as so much time has gone by, here’s her choice, which, coincidentally, just happens to be my favourite record by them:

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The The – This Is The Day

Refresher 2: remember when I said earlier that I had posted the “Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake” sleeve to give you all something to get your teeth into, given the double appearance of ‘The Universal’? Well, I did you all a grave disservice there, for we’ve got this far and not one of you has linked to it yet.

Until now.

Here’s The Great Gog:

“Seeing the word Ogden’s immediately brought to mind World Of Twist and their late singer, Tony Ogden. I’ll go for The Storm from them.”

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World of Twist – The Storm

And The Great Gog wasn’t the only person to come up with an Ogden based link. Here Rol from My Top Ten:

“My first thought for this was to go down the Stan Ogden route (topical reference, ahoy!) which would lead you to Stan by Eminem…”

The song responsible for bringing Dido to a wider audience. *sighs* Go on then, if we must:

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Eminem – Stan

“…and better still,” Rol continues, “to Mark & Lard’s spoof version, ‘Tony’ by The Shirehorses.”

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The Shirehorses – Tony

Hmmm. This must be some new usage of the phrase “better still” that I wasn’t previously aware of. Ironic, maybe. An inverted meaning, like when “Bad” meant “Good”.

Sorry Rol, Worst Record of the Week, which is some feat in a week when we’ve heard that one by Supercharge.

I have an Ogden link too. Here it is:

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The Beautiful South – The Table

What? You’re all looking at me blankly, like there’s no link there.

C’mon, seriously? Even Kay knows what the link is.

Ogden. Table. Ogden Table.

Ogden tables are a set of statistical tables and other information for use in court cases in the UK. Their purpose is to make it easier to calculate future losses in personal injury and fatal accident cases.

See, we try to educate as well as entertain round these parts.

Now you can tell that I focussed on the album with my suggestions, because here’s some more:

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The Wedding Present – Gone

And, the “Ogden…” sleeve depicts a tin of tobacco, so:

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Tobacco – Hairy Candy

…and since we’ve not had any double-linkers this week:

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Jake Starr and the Delicious Fullness – Ognir’s Nut Gone Frosted Flaykes

By the way, I think The Delicious Fullness may be my favourite band name ever.

Let’s have another Nut-based song (I do hope none of you are allergic), which I could have sworn George had suggested; it’s absolutely the sort of thing he would suggest, and I mean that in the nicest possible way, because it turns out this one must be one of mine too:

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B Bumble & the Stingers – Nut Rocker

Which just leaves one more suggestion, and I’ll hand over to SWC and/or Badger, or Swadger as I’m going to insist on calling them from now on, as they overlooked telling me which of them came up with this fine, stirring suggestion:

“The Faces reformed in 2009 with a certain Mick Hucknall on lead vocals. Hucknall is also a place in Nottinghamshire which was the birth place of a certain Eric Coates who wrote the theme to Dam Busters and the theme to Desert Island Discs. So either one of those please.”

With great pleasure, especially as you dodged the bullet of nominating a Simply Red tune:

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Eric Coates – The Dam Busters March

And so to the next record in The Official Chain, which none of you actually guessed, but Dirk and The Robster came mighty close:

“….[The Universal by Small Faces]…featured dogs barking. Dogs are Pets that make Sounds, so…”

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40. The Beach Boys – God Only Knows

…which, although I don’t think he actually played on the recording, given Glen Campbell’s close links to the band and his sad, untimely passing yesterday, seems a rather appropriate way to end things.

So, all that’s left for me to do is to ask for your suggestions, please, for songs which link to “God Only Knows” by The Beach Boys, along with a brief description of the link, via the Comments Section down below, in time for the next edition, whenever that might roll into town.

More soon.

There’s Just One More Thing…

I mentioned last week that my old mate Rich was coming along to The Wedding Present gig last night, on his birthday.

Rich, as I’m sure I mentioned before, is the chap who properly got me into what we now rather endearingly call “indie” music; my brother had laid the foundations, but it was Rich who built on them.

I will never forget the time he played me The Smiths’ “There Is A Light That Never Goes Out”…

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The Smiths – There Is A Light That Never Goes Out

…closely followed by Billy Bragg’s “The Man In The Iron Mask”

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Billy Bragg – The Man in the Iron Mask

…and then I think something by The Chesterfields, probably this:

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The Chesterfields – Nose Out of Joint

…followed up by Microdisney…

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Microdisney – Town to Town

…by which point I was smitten.

Last night, The Wedding Present played none of those songs, for what I hope are fairly obvious reasons, but they did play this, which I made sure Rich and I had a hug to on the line “You’re not like anyone I ever met”.

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The Wedding Present – A Million Miles

Now we’re all grown up and responsible, professionally, Rich is a teacher. To me, he’s always been one.

Happy (day after) Birthday mate. Love ya.

More soon.

Claps, Clicks & Whistles #11

Back in November, I wrote about my sadly passed friend Tony, and as I came to write this post, I found myself thinking of him again.

See, Tony was one of the most quietly encouraging blokes I ever met, and at some point I must have told him I played guitar. I know this to be true, because I have a much valued photo of him pretending to play my (now also sadly passed) acoustic guitar.

At some point, when there was just the two of us, I must have played it for him, and sung too. And I remember that, because one evening at his house, he sprung on me my first ever gig: gathering a couple of friends and his parents round and insisting that I perform for them the song that I had played for him.

It was the first time I had ever played and sung unaccompanied (by unaccompanied, I mean that I wasn’t just playing along to a record) in front of more than one person and, truth be told, it probably wasn’t the finest solo performance, but it did give me a degree of confidence that hadn’t been there previously.

A year or so later, I was at college, in a band, and DJ’ing. And if I look back now, the latter of those two things would probably never have happened had it not been for Tony’s gentle “Come on mate, I know you can do this” that night as he thrust my guitar into my shaking, clammy hands.

I’m pretty sure that my old mate Richie was one of the unlucky few to witness that performance, and next weekend, on his birthday, Richie and I are hooking up for the first time in a couple of years, to go and see the band responsible for the song I sang in Tony’s front room that night.

I say “band”, but in reality, there’s only one person left from those days back in the late 1980s, but it’s the important one, the main man, the one and only David Gedge.

Next Saturday, we’re off to see The Wedding Present at The Roundhouse perform the whole of their legendary “George Best” album as part of the 30th anniversary of the original release.

The first gig I went to after I left home was The Wedding Present at Cardiff University’s Great Hall. It was a night that confirmed all I had hoped about life was attainable: that I could have a blindingly great night watching one of my favourite bands in the world, and not have to worry about waking my parents up when I went home. Which is pretty much all I’ve ever wanted out of life.

Since then, they’re probably the band that I’ve seen most often (yes, even more than I’ve seen The Quo). I have, quite literally, lost count of how many times it is. Once at Uni I managed to blag, via the student rag, a press ticket to see them at the Newport Centre , promising to write a review of the gig which never materialised.

And they never fail to deliver live: about ten, maybe fifteen, years ago, my friends Hel and Llyr saw them at the Reading Festival (I think, without wishing to sound too modest, because they knew how much I bang on about them, although they will probably say it was because there was nobody else on that they’d wanted to watch instead). Both regularly tell me how awesome they were that day.

I first heard The Wedding Present because of Tony, but it was Richie who, after my brother had piqued my interest by incessantly playing The Jesus & Mary Chain (who I initially hated, but, man, he wore me down), properly got me into indie music. I’ll talk more about that another time, but needless to say, next Saturday is going to be an emotional night for me and Richie; our friendship was forged over a mutual admiration of certain records, and cemented by our shared worldview and political leanings.

And, yeh, I know this sounds a bit naff, but Tony will be with us too.

So anyway, here’s the song I played for Tony et al that night. The opening track from “George Best”, the template for so many Gedge songs since, a story of a failing relationship told in the way that only Gedge can do. With some added, nonchalant, “Me? No, I’m not bothered, honestly” whistling for good measure.

For my money, Gedge is one of the great unsung heroes of British lyricists. Listen to his storytelling skills and try telling me that the likes of, for example, Arctic Monkey’s Alex Turner, doesn’t owe him a huge debt:

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The Wedding Present – Everyone Thinks He Looks Daft

I’ve been listening to the “George Best” album as I wrote this. The next seven days can’t go quick enough, and I suspect next Saturday won’t last long enough.

More soon.

The Election Section V2.7

Right, let me make it clear; it’s less than a week to go until the General Election, so there’s probably going to be a few of these posts over the next few days. So, if you’re bored with reading my thoughts on what has happened in the run-up to June 8th, you’re more than welcome to come back next week when a miserable normality will have been restored.

Still here? Good.

There was something that I wanted to mention on the back of Wednesday’s “Leader’s Debate”, and that’s this: the not entirely unexpected bleatings from the right about BBC bias.

Much of this has been prompted by the studio audience’s reaction to some of the things (Conservative) Amber Rudd said, compared to things said by her political opponents on the night.

Nowhere is this better summed up than this screenshot someone posted on Twitter; a snatch of one of Rudd’s answers (about the absence of any costings in the Tory manifesto), complete with subtitles:

Ruddy Brill

You don’t need me to tell you why that raised the biggest laugh of the night.

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The Wedding Present – Don’t Laugh

The response, predictably caused outrage amongst the right-wingers. Here’s Nicholas Soames on Twitter:

Soames 2The first thing to say about that is that Soames really hasn’t got the hang of hashtags, has he? Make it snappy, Nicholas, that’s the way to get it trending.

And then, something rare in this Election campaign, rarer even than Theresa May being seen engaging with the public: Boris Johnson was let out of his cage.

Old Shagger Bojo claimed that the audience was “the most left-wing audience I’ve ever seen”. Boris, using words we all understand there, for a change. Not a whiff of mug-wumps or wiff-waff.

See, the thing is, this is a standard trick both of the main parties churn out whenever things don’t really go their way on a BBC programme. The BBC, you see, has to be impartial – as do all of the broadcasters when the purdah rules of an election apply (which, by the way, is why you won’t find any BBC radio station playing Captian Ska’s “Liar Liar”: it hasn’t been banned, but if they are going to play it, then they’d have to be balanced and play a song extolling the virtues of the Conservatives. And can you think of one of those? Me neither.)

I, though, have no such obligation, so here’s the song in question:

Where was I? Ah yes, the biased BBC.

I addressed this on Twitter a good while ago. See, since it’s publicly funded by way of the TV Licence, the BBC is supposed to be impartial all the time, so when prominent voices from both sides of the political spectrum howl in indignation about the BBC being biased (and the left do it too: see their upset about perceived bias of Political Editor Laura Kuenssberg, or Nick Robinson), then it seems to me that’s evidence of the BBC doing it’s job: having a go at all sides, not siding with anyone.

If you watched any of the Andrew Neill interviews, you can’t honestly say that he gave anyone a particularly easy ride, now can you? He took down each and every leader who stumbled into his cross-hairs (or should that be his cross hair…?)

Truth be told, the audience at the Leaders’ Debate weren’t biased or loaded in the left wing’s favour at all: they were representative of the country’s current political make-up. The largest share of voters present were Conservatives and Labour, whilst the smaller parties had a proportionally lower number of supporters in the audience, which was also weighted to have a 50:50 split of Remain and Leave voters.

See, the audience had been assembled not by BBC staff but by Comres, a polling company. And here’s what their founder, Andrew Hawkins had to say:

“If you have a panel of people – one from the governing party, one from what’s regarded as a right-wing party [that’s UKIP, by the way] and five from broadly left-wing parties – and you give those speakers equal airtime, it means you’re giving five slots of airtime to the left-wing parties for every two slots to the not-so-left-wing parties…Therefore it’s inevitable that the cheering is going to be skewed in one direction.”

So, Boris, Soamesy: if the audience seemed anti-Tory, it’s for the fairly good reason that  a lot of people just don’t like the Tories very much.

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Electric Light Orchestra – Don’t Bring Me Down

See, here’s your marker. Remember when this happened?

Nigel Farage there, taking the unprecedented step of criticising the audience for being too left wing in the middle of a debate prior to one of the many elections he failed to win a seat in.

Which leads me nicely on to one of the other big stories of the week: that Nigel Farage is a “person of interest” to the FBI in the investigation into links between US President Donald Trump and Russia, and with his association with WikiLeaks founder and Hide & Seek Champion (2012 – Present), Julian Assange.

Really, it couldn’t happen to a nicer guy, could it? The come-uppance of the oily, frog-faced hypocrite (no, really, I like him!) is long overdue. Maybe it’s about time.

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The Lemonheads – It’s About Time

(Just to be clear: I don’t like him.)

(I wish I could think of a better way to describe Farage than Tory MP Anna Soubry managed – credit where credit’s due – in 2013 when she said: “I always think he looks like somebody has put their finger up his bottom and he really rather likes it.”)

Of course, Farage denies any wrong-doing. In a recent interview with Die Zeit, Farage, having been seen leaving the Ecuadorian embassy where Assange has lived for years, was asked about his relationship with the hiding alleged sexual predator. Farage declared that he had “never received a penny from Russia”, and said he met Assange for “journalistic reasons”.

Which is interesting, since that wasn’t his first answer. Door-stopped by BuzzFeed as he left the embassy, Farage said he “couldn’t remember” what he had been doing in the building.

I’m of the age where, every now and then, I forget why I’ve gone into a room. But I think that even I, were I to be exiting an Embassy, would be able to remember why I was in there.

Asked specifically if he had gone to the Knightsbridge building to meet with Assange, Farage said: “I never discuss where I go or who I see.”

Course you don’t, Nigel, course you don’t.

I’ll just leave this here:

Farage

When pressed on his past meetings with Russian officials, Farage initially denied having had any. Oh, apart from that time he met some Russians (the Russian ambassador to the UK, Alexander Yakovenko, to be precise), in 2013. That, he (finally) admitted.

If that and his meeting with Assange was all above board, why not just say so when asked? S’all rather odd, isn’t it?

*coughs* selective memory *coughs*

Fear of litigation leaves me saying no more. Except, I’m not saying Farage is a conniving liar, but pretty soon we’ll have conclusive proof one way or another.

Oh and this: we all laugh at Trump, because, well, he’s a fucking idiot. We all rub our hands together with glee at the prospect of the FBI uncovering some links between Trump and Russia. And now, it seems, there’s the possibility of Farage being involved too.

That’s Farage, formally of UKIP, who, as I’ve mentioned before, have had many of their policies adopted by the Conservatives. I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusion there.

More soon.

The Chain #39

Scene: an empty warehouse, in darkness.

FX: A door creaks opens, a switch clicks.

The lights flicker into life.

Delivery Man 1 [poking his head through the door]: Yes, this looks like it.

Delivery Man 1 backs into view, clipboard under arm, guiding a large object covered in a sheet, which is being pushed by Delivery Man 2 with considerably more effort than Delivery Man 1 is expending.

FX: The door slams shut.

Delivery Man 2: Whereabouts does it need to go? What does the order say?

Delivery Man 1 consults the clipboard.

Delivery Man 1: It says “Leave in the middle of the floor, covered, as if it’s been here for ages.”

Delivery Man 2 [with a shrug]: Bit weird, but if that’s what it says.

Job done, they exit, leaving the light on.

FX: the door opens and closes. Pause. Repeat.

An incredibly handsome, if fat and bald, man enters the room. He surveys the object before removing the sheet.

Incredibly handsome, if fat and bald, man: And we’re back in the room!

Hello, and welcome to The Chain. Where’ve you been? I’ve been waiting for you.

Prompted by a question about whether one of this week’s suggestions qualified under the rules, and nothing whatsoever to do with the amount of time since one of these posts appeared, nosireebob, I thought it might be best if I go over them again here, with a brief explanation of what we do here.

So, The Chain is a feature on BBC 6Music’s Radcliffe and Maconie show (and prior to that, their show on BBC Radio 2), where a record is played and they invite suggestions as to what record could be played next, which must link in some way to the one just played.

The difference here is that whilst they choose just one record to play, we try to post all of the suggestions which you submit.

The only rules are:

  1. No suggested record can feature twice (unless it has only featured as part of The Official Chain). If you’re not sure – ask!
  2. The only exception to this rule is “Back on the Chain Gang” by The Pretenders, which has been adopted as our theme tune
  3. When making your suggestion, you must provide an explanation of the link between the two songs
  4. You must already own a copy of it, and be willing to provide it (in case I don’t already own it or am unable to source it)
  5. Suggestions must be more than just naming a different song by the same artist.
  6. You can make as many suggestions as you like, but please, go easy on me, won’t you?

That’s about it. I award points every now and again, for Worst Record of the Week, Cheesiest Record of the Week, Comment Showboat of the Week, and of course, for anyone who happens to guess either the song or act (or both) that is the next record in the Official Chain, which becomes the source record for the following week. Nobody’s keeping score (well, I’m not anyway), the points are just a bit of fun.

Okay, that’s the admin done. Last time out, the source record was “The Universal” by Blur; personally, I found this a really tricky one to link to, especially as I have to wait and see what’s left after you guys have nominated all the good ones. Ho hum, such is life.

So, here we go then, and as usual, we’ll bracket them into several fairly broad categories and, as usual, we’ll probably wander off on a couple of tangents along the way.

First out of the traps last time was Charity Chic from Charity Chic Music who wrote:

“It has to be something off ‘Universal Audio’, the final album by The Delgados. I Fought the Angels would do rather nicely I feel”

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The Delgados – I Fought The Angels

Of course, CC was not alone in suggesting a link to something of Universal appeal; Dirk from sexyloser proffered thusly:

“…because not enough good German music is being featured on these pages, I’d like to  link to Die Sterne – ‘Universal Tellerwäscher’ from 1994 …. which in fact is a mighty record indeed!”

I was going to make a rather unkind joke about the phrase “good German music” being an oxymoron, but then I listened to Dirk’s suggestion and have to agree, it is mighty fine (even if I have not one clue as to what it’s about, although Google Translate, which is never wrong, obviously, tells me that a Tellerwäscher is a dishwasher ):

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Die Sterne – Universal Tellerwäscher

Sticking with the Universal theme, SWC from When You Can’t Remember Anything suggested this:

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Universal Being – Size of an Elephant

whilst The Great Gog wrote:

“…seeing as we’re all commenting on The Universal, Red Hot Chilli Peppers’ Universally Speaking would seem apt.”

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Red Hot Chili Peppers – Universally Speaking

And The Beard quoted a completely different song which contains the word “Universal”:

“Universal, unique untouched, unadulterated, the raw uncut”

He is, of course, referring to this:

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Blackalicious – Alphabet Aerobics

Time for the first interlude of the day; I stumbled along this clip the other day, which I’m sure you’ll agree contains some quite wizardly rapping:

Anyway, where were we?

Ah yes. Blur’s ‘The Universal’. Take it away Julian of Music from Magazines fame:

“Blur did a song “Beetlebum”
The Beatles did a song “Across The Universe”
Laibach did a version of “Across The Universe”
Laibach nailed “Sympathy For The Devil”

(The 7.52 version please)”

As you wish:

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Laibach – Sympathy For The Devil

Time for a big Chain welcome for the first of two new contributors to The Chain this week, here’s Telefrank:

“The video for ‘The Universal’ references the Korova Milk Bar, so something by Wendy Carlos natch.”

Just to join up the dots: the Korova Milk Bar features in ‘A Clockwork Orange’, so this seemed like as good a tune as any:

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Wendy Carlos – Title Music From ‘A Clockwork Orange’

Walter from A Few Good Times in My Life pointed out that “…the opposite of universe might be the underground. So…”

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The Jam – Going Underground

It’s scary how that song is so relevant now, 35 years after it came out. “Times have changed”, some people say. I’d play them that and respectfully disagree.

Anyway, before I start going off on one, more Universal shenanigans. Here’s Alex G from We Will Have Salad:

“A nice easy link from ‘Universal’ to another well-known film studio: Columbia.”

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Oasis – Columbia

Walter continues the theme: “Universal is also a music label distributing music of various and different artists. So I suggest:”

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Tom Petty – You Don’t Know How It Feels

From the Universal links, it’s one small step to the universe, and space in general, and to our second new member of The Chain Gang of the week, abramson60, the 60th from the very noble Abramson family, as Adam Buxton would say:

Anyway, abramson60 has certainly got the hang of how to make sure you get lots of tunes played here: list of a load of songs he’d considered before finally plumping for a completely different one. I, of course, cannot resist:

“Universe would automatically take me down the space road, so you could have….”

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 Liz Phair – Supernova

“…or another of my pet favorites…”

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Julian Cope – Spacehopper

“…not forgetting that he went on to become the nation’s favourite spaced out artist.”

But, “…sticking with universe, The Rocky Horror Picture Show had long lasting and profound influence on the somewhat naive 16 year old me who first saw the film at the tail end of the 70’s. So my pick is ‘I’m Going Home’, not quite sure where to but somewhere in the outer reaches of space.”  I’m not sure I quite follow the link there, but as it’s your first visit, I’ll let it slide this time:

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Dr. Frank N. Furter – I’m Going Home

Over to The Swede from Unthought of, though, somehow next, who says:

“I’ll keep things cosmic and suggest ‘Space is Deep’ by Hawkwind – the studio version from ‘Doremi Fasol Latido’ please.”

Very well.

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Hawkwind – Space Is Deep

A couple of you suggested links from lyrics withing ‘The Universal’, which is fair enough and fine by me. For example, Rigid Digit from Stuff & Nonsense suggested:

“‘The Universal’ includes the lines:
“And to karaoke songs,
We like to sing along,
Although the words are wrong”

So .. mondegreens (misheard lyrics) and possibly the most well known: ‘Scuse me while I kiss this guy'”

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The Jimi Hendrix Experience – Purple Haze

Next up, Martin from New Amusements, who takes the “list a load of songs then pick a completely different one as their choice” approach adopted by abramson60 and combines it with Rigid Digit’s focus on the song’s lyrics:

“The Universal includes a line about ‘satellites in every home’ so we could go with that, enabling…”

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The Hooters – Satellite

“…or…”

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Lou Reed – Satellite Of Love

“…or…”

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Tasmin Archer – Sleeping Satellite

“…or, I guess…”

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The Tornados – Telstar

If I could just butt in for a moment, I can’t hear that record without thinking of this record (and vice versa) since I can’t help but think that while it’s not a straight-out sample, the synth melody line, owes more than a little debto the old instrumental Martin suggests:

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Saint Etienne – You’re In A Bad Way

Martin’s actual choice will follow in a moment, but props where props are due, the category it falls into was first suggested by The Robster from Is This The Life? (well, actually, it was first mentioned by Rigid Digit last week time)

“My link comes in the form of British Gas adverts. The Universal was, as you point out, used in an ad campaign for British Gas. So was ‘More Than A Feeling’ by Boston, which despite ticking all the middle-of-the-road 70s AOR boxes, is a damn fine tune and one I always find myself playing air guitar to. True!”

It may well be, but unfortunately that’s featured in The Chain before, so, as per the rules above, I can’t allow it this week. Sorry!

Tell you what, have another go:

“Another gem from the British Gas archive is the wonderful ‘Rescue Me’ by Fontella Bass which cannot fail to give everyone a lift on a Monday morning.”

Much better.

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Fontella Bass – Rescue Me

Back to Martin again: “…let’s go down the route of the Blur track’s British Gas-based ubiquity, all the excuse we need to have ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash’ by The Rolling Stones, since that tells us ‘it’s a gas, gas, gas.'”

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The Rolling Stones –  Jumpin’ Jack Flash

He’s still not done yet, mind:

“But I’d rather suggest a song I really like, so the gas connection allows me to pitch the much-less-played ‘It’s A Gas’ by The Wedding Present. Any excuse to get the Gedge out, after all.”

I could not agree more.

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The Wedding Present – It’s A Gas

Catchphrase time! If you’re suggesting that, then I’m suggesting this:

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T. Rex – Life’s A Gas

And as a special treat, here’s Marc Bolan performing ‘Life’s A Gas’ with Cilla Black, of all people:

The less said about that the better, I think.

But whilst we’re on adverts, here’s Snuff from their ace “Flibbiddydibbiddydob” album (these are so short, you may as well have two):

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Snuff – Bran Flakes

Snuff – Shake ‘n’ Vac

After those words from our sponsors, back to The Great Gog:

“‘The Great Escape album’ from which The Universal is taken also includes a song called ‘Top Man’. When I was younger (and a little less Great) I used to venture into Manchester and frequent a store of that name, and occasionally even buy something. Having done this, my then-significant other would drag me to where she wanted to buy stuff – Chelsea Girl. Obviously the title of a song by Simple Minds…”

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Simple Minds – Chelsea Girl

Well, if you’re suggesting that, then I’m suggesting this:

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Ride – Chelsea Girl

Sorry GG, I interupted, do carry on:

“…[Chelsea Girls is] also referenced on Mighty Mighty’s ‘Is There Anyone Out There?’ Which sort of links back to matters universal.”

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Mighty Mighty – Is There Anyone Out There?

Right, where next? Since we seem to have exhausted all of the possibilities of links to “The Universal”, how about links to Blur? Seems like a plan.

Over to Birthday Boy Rol (45 today!) from My Top Ten, then, with two and a half suggestions:

“Suggestion that needs no explanation: ‘Mr. Blur’ by Tom Verlaine.”

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Tom Verlaine – Mr. Blur

He continues: “Suggestion that leads a little more explanation: Blur used to be called Seymour. I’m sure someone will link to the obvious song from that (the one about a record company boss…”

You mean this one, I assume?

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Belle & Sebastian – Seymour Stein

“…so,” Rol continues, “I’ll point us towards the character of Seymour in the movie ‘The Little Shop of Horrors’ and suggest the song ‘Feed Me, Seymour’ as sung by the killer plant Audrey II (aka Levi Stubbs from The Four Tops).”

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Audrey II – Feed Me (Git It)

The Great Gog’s back:

As Rol has mentioned Seymour, the track that I always think of when I hear Blur’s previous name is ‘Read About Seymour’ by Swell Maps.”

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Swell Maps – Read About Seymour

Now, before he started listing spacey songs, abramson60 also proffered up a few relating to the name of Blur:

“Blur taken as unclear leads me to…”

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Lindisfarne – Fog On The Tyne

You can all count yourself lucky that I decided not to post the version with Gazza on it. Actually, that might have been quite appropriate, since writing and indeed reading The Chain often has the air of a hostage situation about it, so maybe we should expect him to rock up with a bucket of fried chicken and a fishing rod.

Anyway, back to you abramson60:

“…or maybe when everything clears…”

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Jimmy Cliff – I Can See Clearly Now

I’ve got Snuff covering that too somewhere, but let’s not overdo it, eh? That would take us over the 2 minutes of Snuff records mark, which would never do.

Any more, abramson60?

“Having said all of that I would much prefer to offer up Dr Phibes and the House of Wax Equations (any brownie points for extra long band names?) [Nope – Ed] and Hazy Lazy Hologram, link being obvious and in hazy, and everyone loves drug induced music, don’t they?”

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Dr Phibes & The House Of Wax Equations – Hazy Lazy Hologram

Back to Julian for his obligatory weekly suggestion of a record by Lambchop:

“A Blur is what the world is when ones had too many HIC!!

Where was I ?

Who fucking knows?

Oh yes its all coming back to me…..”

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Lambchop – The Man Who Loved Beer

And what of the individual members of Blur, there must be some links there, right?

Guess what, here’s abramson60. Again.

“Blur’s singer is Damon Albarn who is the son of Keith Albarn, who once managed Soft Machine, whose drummer Robert Wyatt went onto have a solo career, recording ‘Shipbuilding’ which as we all know was written by Elvis Costello, who took part in the Red Wedge tours along side Billy Bragg. So my suggestion has to be ‘Valentine’s Day Is Over’.”

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Billy Bragg – Valentine’s Day Is Over

I have two things to say about this. Firstly, I had no idea of the Albarn connection to Soft Machine, and secondly, abramson60 did suggest this back on February 15th, which makes his choice of Billy track a little more understandable.

But frankly, you had me at “Shipbuilding”:

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Elvis Costello & The Attractions – Shipbuilding

SWC’s back:

“Damon Albarn was the boyfriend of Justine Frischmann of Elastica. So let’s have ‘Stutter’ from them.”

The first record I ever bought by Elastica this, albeit on an NME compilation album of their Singles of the Week from 1993, and without doubt one of the finest ever songs about erectile disfunction.

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Elastica – Stutter

Charity Chic’s back, with the obligatory Clash record of the week. Don’t worry George, there’s a finite number of them that can be suggested:

“Damon Albarn was in The Good,The Bad and the Queen, as was Paul Simonon who wrote and sung ‘Guns of Brixton'”

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The Clash – The Guns of Brixton

Speaking of George, he’s been rather quiet so far this week, so here’s the first of his suggestions:

“Damon Albarn was/is also in a band called Gorillaz, and gorillas are in a branch of primates, as are monkeys, leading to ‘Monkey On My Back’ by The Triffids (from the Field of Glass EP). I think the song is not actually about monkeys.”

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The Triffids – Monkey on My Back

Well, if you’re suggesting that, then I’m suggesting this:

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Inspiral Carpets – Monkey On My Back

In fact, given his involvement with Gorillaz, you could describe Albarn as a…

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 The Maytals – Monkey Man

(My apologies, by the way: I realised I’ve misnamed the mp3 as Toots and The Maytals, rather than just The Maytals, but I really can’t be arsed with changing it.)

The Great Gog’s back again:

“I did have one more up my sleeve, but left it in case anyone else came up with it – they haven’t , so here goes. Blur’s lead singer is D. Albarn. Shuffling one of those letters to the left a bit allows me to type Dr. Alban, the early 90’s hitmaker who made such a lasting impression on me that I can only recall one of his tunes…”

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Dr Alban – It’s My Life

Hands down winner of the “Worst Record of the Week” award, there.

“Used in a Tampax advert at some point in the nineties too,” pipes up The Beard. Now, let’s not lower ourselves by making any jokes about that particualr subject. That’s it. None. End of. Period.

Instead, let’s move onto the other members of Blur, and focus for a moment on bass player Alex James. Over to you, George:

“Another Alex is Alex Harvey, so the song is from the first Sensational Alex Harvey Band album ‘Framed’, and ‘The Hammer Song’.”

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The Sensational Alex Harvey Band – The Hammer Song

Another from SWC next, I think:

“When he is not doing that [being in Blur] he schmoozes up to his famous neighbours David Cameron and Jeremy Clarkson. He also pretends to make cheese which gives us a lovely link to ‘Gorgonzola’ by Leslie Sarony.”

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Leslie Sarony – Gorgonzola

Mention any of the old music hall acts such as Leslie, and I’m afraid I can’t help thinking of this chap:

Back over to Rol, who might just see this post before his birthday’s finished:

“All this talk of Alex James’s cheese behooves me to suggest Copy Cats by The Humdrum Express, which features the lines…

“I read a Jamie Oliver’s Feastival review
Where ex-Top Gear presenters jumped the queue
To a sign publicising ageing sleaze
But it was Alex James’s aptly named new cheese”

(It also features the line “More Betty Than Swervedriver”, which I’m half thinking of stealing to rename my blog.)”

Bagsy and first dibs duly note.

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The Humdrum Express – Copy Cats

I may aswell chuck one in to the Alex-mix. When he isn’t making cheese, or being in Blur, he’s also popped up in some questionable novelty acts, most famously with Fat Les, but also in Wig Wam, a truly awful project that I’m not going to offend your ears by playing. His partner-in-crime there, though, was one Alison Clarkson aka Betty Boo:

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Betty Boo – Where Are You Baby?

Two band members left, and absolutely nobody suggested anything Graham Coxon-related so I had a quick shufty round and found that according to wikipedia, he appeared on Blue Peter twice as a child.

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Mike Oldfield – Blue Peter

But since all the rest of the band are getting at least two songs, we may as well have one of his singles. Friends of mine will attest that every time we’ve heard thisplayed out, I always point out that the intro sounds a lot like “Into the Valley” by Skids (Since nobody has ever agreed with me on this point, I’d post it so you could compare, but as it’s already featured on The Chain once before, I can’t. Who made these stupid rules up anyway??):

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Graham Coxon – Freakin’ Out

Which just leaves drummer Dave Rowntree, and a suggestion by The Beard:

“He shares his surname with the confectioners Rowntree. They are based in York and created the KitKat. York City’s Bootham Crescent ground was for a period renamed KitKat Crescent. ‘Crystal Crescent’ is a track by Primal Scream amd nothing to do with chocolate or the city of York.”

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Primal Scream – Crystal Crescent

Times may not change, by Primal Sceam certainly have over the years, haven’t they?

Finally, Rowntree has stood for election three times on behalf of the Labour party, losing on each occasion. Which leads me to this:

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Radiohead – Electioneering

Which just leaves us to reveal what the next record in the Official Chain is, and many of you will have noticed the absence of one particular song from the start of this post, when we looked at songs with the word “Universal” in the title. Many people wanted to suggest this, but Swiss Adam from baggingarea was the first out of the traps so the kudos and points are his this week:

“The Small Faces have their own ‘Universal’ which is a lovely song.”

Ain’t that the truth:

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Small Faces – The Universal

So, all that laves me to do is to ask for your suggestions, please, for songs which link to “The Universal” by Small Faces, along with a brief description of the link, via the Comments Section down below, in time for the next edition.

Let’s say that will be next week, and see what happens, eh?

More soon.

It’s Chriiiiistmas!!!

Evening all. Sorry to report I’m having a few technical issues tonight; my laptop has decided it doesn’t recognise my external hard-drive, where all my tunes, and in particular, all the songs for this week’s instalment of The Chain, live. I suspect a knackered cable to be to blame, which I won’t be able to address until tomorrow, I’m afraid. So, I’ll be spending the rest of the evening tracking all the songs down again in case that still doesn’t sort things out.

Basically, what I’m saying is, The Chain will be delayed until tomorrow. Sorry about that. Please don’t send any more suggestions though!

In it’s place, here’s the post I had prepared, music already uploaded, ready to go on Thursday. On the plus side, for once I can genuinely say I’m bringing you tomorrow’s music today. The downside of that is that I also have to admit to bringing you today’s music tomorrow, which doesn’t sound anywhere near as prestigious.

Two songs by two of my favourite bands today. Neither of them require much in the way of introduction, so often are they featured on these pages, so without further ado, here you go:

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Half Man Half Biscuit – All I Want For Christmas Is A Dukla Prague Away Kit

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The Wedding Present – Holly Jolly Hollywood

More soon.

The Chain #33

So this is what Thursday looks like, is it? I’m not sure I care for it much. It’s no Wednesday, is it?

We ended last week with the 32nd record in The Official Chain, “Valley Girl” by Frank Zappa, and my usual open invitation for suggestions for songs which can be linked to that.

And, as usual, the usual diverse range of songs came in, linking a numerous amount of clever, corny, obscure, obvious, tenuous or terrific ways. This week, for a change (and because it’s a lot easier) we’re going to look at them in the order they came in.

Also this week, as I was struggling for ideas for my own suggestions, I seem to have developed a new catch-phrase.

First out of the traps this week was Charity Chic from Charity Chic Music, with a suggestion which truly fulfils the remit of the name of this here blog:

“‘Frank Zappa and the Mamas were at the best place around’ according to Deep Purple on Smoke on the Water”

Altogether now: Der-der-der, der-der-de-der, der-der-der-der-der…..

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Deep Purple – Smoke on the Water

That’s taken from their 1972 album “Machine Head”, an album which my brother owned when we were kids, on gatefold vinyl. When opened, this was the collage which greeted you:

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As you may be able to see, each of the band member has their photo with their name on the right hand side – there’s Gillan, Blackmore, Glover, Lord, Paice, and then on the left, just one photo bears a name, a name which my brother and I found hilarious when we were kids: Claude Nobs.

This sounded to us like one of those comedy innuendo names, like Ivor Biggun or Hugh G. Rection. But actually, Nobs is there for a reason. He does not appear on the record. He is not one of the sound technicians. During Zappa’s concert, when the fire that the song tells the story of broke out in the Montreux Casino, started by a fan firing a flare into the ceiling, Nobs was a hero, saving several young people who had hidden in the casino, thinking they would be sheltered from the flames.

He still has a funny name, mind.

Anyway, if you’re going to suggest that, then I’m going to suggest this version, just in case you think that what that song needs is less guitar riffs, and more salsa brass:

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Senor Coconut – Smoke On The Water

If that version isn’t on Strictly Come Dancing some day, then…well, I won’t have the faintest idea, as I never watch it.

Over to the Great Gog now:

“Frank Zappa’s band were the Mothers Of Invention which set me thinking about anything referring to invention / inventiveness or whatever, and inevitably our old friends, Manic Street Preachers cropped up with ‘Another Invented Disease’.”

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Manic Street Preachers – Another Invented Disease

I think sooner or later I’m going to have to draw up a league table of the acts who have featured the most in The Chain. The Manics have to be right up there, along with Kirsty MacColl and maybe The Bluetones.

“Also springing to mind on a separate train of thought,” continues the Great Gog, “was a band who I’m guessing didn’t name themselves purely to be next to Zappa in the record store racks, but achieved that anyway. That will be Zapp and the only song I can recall of theirs is ‘It Doesn’t Really Matter’ – and it didn’t to the Great British record-buying public at least, because it wasn’t much of a hit.”

And here’s why I think that was: because we just weren’t ready for someone trying to sound like Prince after he’d had a vocoder forcibly inserted:

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Zapp – It Doesn’t Really Matter

Here’s Rol from My Top Ten, with the first of many “Frank” links:

“Tom Waits – Frank’s Wild Years. I won’t come up with a better song than that this week.

Although I might come up with a few worse ones.”

Time will tell, eh, readers?

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Tom Waits – Frank’s Wild Years

And since we’re on Frank’s, well if you’re going to suggest that, then I’m going to suggest this:

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The Frank and Walters – After All

Time to welcome back Dirk from Sexyloser, conspicuous by his absence the past week or so, and, from the length of his suggestion, keen to make up for lost time:

“That’s an easy one and one that links to one of my favourite tunes in the history of the whole wide world ever: how cool is that? Now, Zappa had this song on the album “Ship Arriving Too Late To Save A Drowning Witch”, which was released in 1982. Now, if you have a closer look at the lyrics of “Valley Girl”, you start wondering who stole from whom when you take into consideration that The Valley Girls’ “Marina Men” (a m.i.g.h.t.y. tune, friends!) was ALSO released in 1982: if some expert now told me that the Valley Girls’ 12″ came out first, my life would be complete, believe me!”

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Valley Girls – Marina Men

“Plus,” Dirk continues, “in order to show you that I’m a friend of the stars: one of the first comments I received when I started sexyloser years and years ago came from Pamy out of The Valley Girls: she thought it was cool to see the record being brought up again some 25 years after its release. Had I already known about the Zappa – tune then, I would have asked her for the exact release date straightaway! So Pamy, if you’re reading this, who was first: you or Zappa? Also, as a kind reminder: I’m still waiting for this lyric sheet, alright?!”

I don’t think she reads this, Dirk. Not unless one of you is about to suddenly rip a mask away from your face to reveal your true identity, like the owner of the run-down, reputedly haunted, circus in every episode of Scooby Doo ever.

Charity Chic is back, with two more suggestions now, one absolute belter, and one…er…less so. I wonder if you can guess which one is which?

“The Skids who recorded the mighty ‘Into the Valley’ were from Dumfermline…..”

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Skids – Into The Valley

“So too is Barbara Dickson who recorded the not so mighty ‘Answer Me’.”

Don’t you go bad-mouthing Dickson on my watch, CC! For me, Dixon epitomises Saturday night TV in the 1970s, since she seemed to be the guest singer on every episode of “The Two Ronnies” ever:

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Barbara Dickson – Answer Me

Over now to The Robster from Is This the Life?:

“What immediately sprang to mind was Our Frank by Morrissey, but you had a Moz tune on the previous episode, so…”

Yes, so? That’s not a reason not to have another one by him this week:

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Morrissey – Our Frank

“…Fresh from seeing Pixies in Cardiff last night, and with my body still recovering from a full TWO HOUR onslaught in the mosh-pit, my mind turns to lead singer Black Francis. Now he has released records under the alternative name Frank Black. In 2000, with his backing band The Catholics, he recorded an album called ‘Sunday Sunny Mill Valley Groove Day’, the title track of which was a cover of the Sir Douglas Quintet track. The album was never officially released, although Frank did distribute some copies at gigs. He re-recorded the track for his 2005 album ‘Honeycomb’ while other tracks ended up as b-sides or on compilations. It also provides a double-link for The Chain!”

Frank + Valley = double- linker!

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Frank Black – Sunday Sunny Mill Valley Groove Day

Well, if you’re going to suggest that, then I’m going to suggest this, my own double-linker, one of the greatest Northern Soul tunes ever, and frankly (see what I did there), I can’t believe nobody else suggested it this week:

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Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons – The Night

Now if anyone was ever going to rip their mask off and reveal themselves to be Pamy from the Valley Girls, then surely it’s George:

“Frank Zappa’s middle name was Vincent. Which leads to Vincent Eugene Craddock, who was better known as Gene Vincent. So the song is Baby Blue.”

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Gene Vincent – Baby Blue

Here’s Rol, back again, with a suggestion which may, or may not, be worse than his earlier one. You decide:

“That would lead me on to Vincent Furnier, aka Alice Cooper. ‘School’s Out’ is too obvious, so how about ‘Teenage Lament ’74’?”

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Alice Cooper – Teenage Lament ’74

Time for something circular from Rigid Digit from Stuff & Nonsense now:

“Alice Cooper released two albums on Frank Zappa’s Record Label Straight. Ian Dury and The Blockheads sang ‘I Want To Be Straight’, and to complete the circle (back to Frank’s middle name) [and back to George’s suggestion, for that matter] he also recorded ‘Sweet Gene Vincent’.”

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Ian Dury & The Blockheads – Sweet Gene Vincent

Back now for his third suggestion, it’s Rol time again:

“…it just occurred to me that a Zappa is a good way of killing flies… as is Flyswatter by Eels.”

I do not recommend you using the song Flyswatter by Eels to kill flies, it’ll take you ages. You’d be much better off trying an actual flyswatter.

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Eels – Flyswatter

Before we’re completely over-run with Rol’s interjections, here’s a few suggestions by Martin from New Amusements:

“So many roads to take from this one, doubtless many cul-de-sacs…

The ‘valley’ connection: Generation X, Valley of the Dolls’…”

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Generation X – Valley Of The Dolls

“A ‘moon’ connection (since Frank co-wrote Valley Girl with his daughter, Moon Unit) – Moon Unit implies moon base, hence the ‘Space 1999 Theme’…”

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Barry Gray – Space:1999 (Series One Theme Tune)

(You did mean the Series One Theme Tune, right Martin? Pah, of course you did. Nobody would pick the Series Two Theme Tune. The Series One Theme Tune is the best Space:1999 Theme Tune ever, everybody knows that).

“A better ‘moon’ connection – Keith wrote, sang and drummed on the excellent ‘I Need You’ from ‘A Quick One’ by The Who…”

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The Who – I Need You

“…Another ‘valley’ connection: The Monkees, ‘Pleasant Valley Sunday’…But ultimately, I will revert to type. Yes, I want to pitch Pleasant Valley Sunday to you, because it’s utterly brilliant, Gerry Goffin and Carole King at their 60’s song-writing zenith. But, to maintain my indie boy credentials, can I hesitantly suggest The Wedding Present’s 1992 cover of same….?”

Oh, Martin. Never be hesitant round these parts when suggesting The Wedding Present. Besides, when they released a limited edition 7″ single at the start of the month, every month, throughout all of 1992, with an original song as the ‘A’ side and a cover version on the ‘B’ side, I bought the lot, and still have them all. And their version of Pleasant Valley Sunday was on the flip-side of May’s “Come Play With Me”:

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The Wedding Present – Pleasant Valley Sunday

Time to welcome back Julian Badenoch for a second week on the trot, and after I’d spent a few days scratching my head and trying to work out where I knew his name from after he kindly dropped by last week, I was reminded – admittedly by him – that he writes, as he calls it the “unreliable music blog”: Music from Magazines (“unreliable” seems a little overly self-deprecating, Julian. I think “sporadic” is more appropriate):

“This may be wrong for the girls but …Valley sounds like valet which leads to valet parking, and Grace Jones’ instruction to ‘Pull Up To The Bumper’…”

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Grace Jones – Pull Up To The Bumper

Now I’m not the biggest fan of Ms Jones generally – we got off to a bad start when she battered Russell Harty about the head – but that’s an absolute stone cold classic (I’ve not said that for ages, I don’t think…)

Anyway, Julian proceeds: “…which could be paired with ‘Relax’ [I’m skipping that one, as I’m not quite sure I follow what the link is; doubtless I’ll get it the second I press Publish] or even ‘If It Don’t Fit Don’t Force It’…”

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Parliament – If It Don’t Fit (Don’t Force It)

Next! Over to Alyson from What’s It All About Alfie?, permanently scuppered in her efforts to get her suggestions by a combination of a) being in work and b) those fast-fingered blogging boys:

“…as I have absolutely no indie boy credentials whatsoever to maintain, I can go in a totally different direction. One of the first songs I can think of that links to the word Moon, is by Al Jarreau and it’s his theme from the TV Show ‘Moonlighting’. I mention this only because a certain Chain Ganger, who shall not be named, recently revealed a first album purchase which did kind of link to that show!”

I’m not going to mock. I bought a single from the same album. It most definitely wasn’t my first single, so I cannot even afford myself the luxury of that excuse.

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Al Jarreau – Moonlighting

Here’s a little know factoid for you: Al’s surname is actually spelt Jarrow. His parents adopted this as their family name after they took part in the 1936 Jarrow March. However, when he started earning his corn as a soul singer, young Al decided to change the spelling from ‘Jarrow’ to ‘Jarreau’ because he didn’t think being associated with the Tyneside town with the same name made him sound “suave” enough.

100% true, that. Except for the bits that aren’t. Which is all of it, obviously.

“Other than that all my Moon suggestions come from way back, Moon River, Blue Moon, Moonlight Serenade etc. or are by Showaddywaddy (and we won’t go there). Slightly more recently there is ‘Dancing In The Moonlight’ by Toploader (this millennium anyway, just) [DON’T YOU BLOODY DARE SUGGEST THAT!!]. The one I’ll go with as my actual suggestion [Phew! Crisis averted]however is going to be ‘Moonlight Shadow’ by Mike Oldfield (featuring the vocals of Maggie Reilly). As ever I don’t know if its cool or uncool to like Mike Oldfield around these parts but not averse to hearing a bit of ‘In Dulce Jubilo’ at this time of year.”

Also a single I bought when I was a kid, so it’s a thumbs-up from me:

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Mike Oldfield – Moonlight Shadow

Hands up who needs a bit of Badger in their life?

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Thought so. Off you snuffle, Badge:

“Now valleys. They are found in the country as are girls which leads us to ‘Country Girl’ by Primal Scream…”

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Primal Scream – Country Girl

(Is it just me, or is that sleeve strangely reminiscent of The Wannadies’ “Bagsy Me” album, released in 1997, almost 10 years earlier…..?

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I’m not playing anything from it, jus’ sayin’ like.)

Sorry, Badger. Floor’s all yours again.

“Or if we want to go a bit seventies doll is another word for girl which takes us to ‘Valley of the Dolls’ by strangely absent Scottish dance guru Mylo.”

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Mylo – Valley of the Dolls

That’s a fair point, what has happened to Mylo?

“SWC will be along later with his suggestions,” wraps up Badger, in what looks suspiciously like an audition for hosting duties on some interactive music blog, like that’s an idea that would ever take off, “I think he was going down the Frank route. Or something to do with Lithuanians.”

Huh? Lithuanians?

And here is he, right on cue. Badger and SWC both write When You Can’t Remember Anything, so it’s quite nice that their suggestions have come in next to each other, not least because I only have to type their blog name once.

Anyway, SWC, what’s all this about Lithuanians?

“So…in the city of Vilnius in Lithuania there is a statue of Frank Vincent Zappa. There is a reason it is there, but I can’t remember what it is. [You can read it here, if you so wish to do – Helpful Ed] As I’ve stated Vilnius is in Lithuania which gives us a lovely link to ‘Lithuania’ by Jaga Jazzist.”

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Jaga Jazzist – Lithuania

“In addition there is a street in Berlin named Frank Zappa Strasse (its in Marzahn, check it out…) which gives us two options – the brilliant ‘Berlin Got Blurry’ by Parquet Courts …”

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Parquet Courts – Berlin Got Blurry

“…or the godawful ‘Take My Breath Away’ from homoerotic classic ‘Top Gun’. Your choice….”

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Berlin – Take My Breath Away

In case any of you are unsure as to why SWC refers to Top Gun as being homoerotic, then watch this, written and performed by Quentin Tarantino from early 90s indie-flick “Sleep With Me” (which, by the way, is definitely Not Safe for Work, containing, as you would probably expect from anything written and performed by Tarantino, a fair degree of effing and jeffing)

Now, I’ve noticed a scarcity of records vying for the title of “Worst Record of the Week” this week, so, time for me to wheel out my new catchphrase.

If you’re going to suggest that, then I’m going to suggest this:

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Infernal – From Paris To Berlin

Europop at it’s most….erm…most distinguished there.

As an aside, do you remember when in 2006 they re-recorded that for the football World Cup, which was being held in Germany? No? Have a listen to this (not the official video, needless to say – all traces of that seem to have been wiped from all corners of the internet):

England got to the last eight that year, going out on penalties to Portugal. I think they deliberately lost so that we didn’t have to hear that rubbish ever again. Until today.

Here’s Rigid Digit, back to inject some class back into proceedings:

“Frank: Frank Bough presented BBCs Grandstand – all the big sporting events, mainly Football, Rugby League, Horse Racing and Snooker were covered every Saturday Afternoon. ITV offered an alternative with World Of Sport fronted by Dickie Davies which focused on Wrestling, Darts and Stock Car Racing.

Which leads to:”

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Half Man Half Biscuit – Dickie Davies Eyes

There’s another band who must feature in the “Most Suggested” list. Not that I’m complaining. I’ve written before how that contains one of my favourite rhyming couplets ever.

Hold up, old Goalhanger Rol’s back, hovering ready to pounce should another suggestion leave a gaping goal, which as we all know by now, is what I do.

“Frank Bough would lead me either to ‘Make It Right’ by Tim Buckley …”

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Tim Buckley – Make It Right

“…or ‘Spank’ by Jimmy “Bo” Horne. Both, for the same reason.”

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Jimmy “Bo” Horne – Spank

Well, if you’re suggesting that….altogether now……then I’m suggesting this (see, catchy, innit?):

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Spanky Wilson – Sunshine of Your Love

And just in case you don’t know what Rol and I are referring to, it’s to the broadcasting career ending expose of Bough, when it was revealed he enjoyed attending S&M dens, dressed in stockings and suspenders, and indulging in a little light flagellation.

Over to George again now, and you may recall that last week George suggested a tune by Emerson Lake & Palmer, and the next day Greg Lake dropped dead. Let’s see who he has in the cross-hairs this week:

“I can get a link to the Clash, but I’m not going to [regulars will know why – Semi-Helpful Ed]. Frank Zappa was made a special ambassador for Czechoslovakia by then President Vaclav Havel. Vaclav Havel was a founder of Charter 77 (formed in 1977, and isn’t that the title of Clash song…?) so I am of course suggesting a track from Talking Heads’ first album, 77, namely ‘Don’t Worry About The Government'”

So tune in tomorrow for tributes to one of the late founding members of Talking Heads:

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Talking Heads – Don’t Worry About The Government

Here’s The Beard with his usual clutch of contributions:

“Valley Parade is the home of Bradford City FC. The dreadful nineties outfit Terrorvision hailed from Bradford. I stood next to their lead singer at a Supergrass gig at Leeds Town & County Club in 1996. He was wearing, if memory serves me right, awful trainers. I can’t remember what made them so particularly awful but since I always associate Terrorvision with bad footwear. As awful as his trainers were they were nowhere near their single Tequila in the scale of awfulness. Bile inducingly bad. Tequila is of course a type of alcoholic drink. Better songs loosely linked to alcohol, to name just a few, are:”

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Rupert Holmes – Escape (The Pina Colada Song)

(I have genuinely never heard that record as being described as “better” than any other, so fair play for buying in to the ethos of this place, trying to justify those records traditionally considered “guilty pleasures”, which we all know don’t exist. Well, not in the land of music, anyway)

He’s not done yet though:

“‘Velocity Girl’ by Primal Scream (“here she comes again, with vodka in her veins”)”

If I hadn’t posted it yesterday, this would undoubtedly have featured today. We’ll call it an honorary mention this time, and we’ll try to think of a reason to post it some other time. Sorry!

“Or…”

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Nouvelle Vague – Too Drunk To Fuck

Well, if you’re suggesting louche cover versions of alcohol based beverages, then I’m going to suggest this louche cover version of an alcohol based beverage (Wasn’t quite as catchy that time, was it? Mental note to self: new catch-phrase needs some polishing):

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Dexys Midnight Runners – Marguerita Time

No, I didn’t quite believe it existed until I heard it either.

Oh, wait. The Beard’s thought of another one:

“And ‘I Got Loaded’ by Peppermint Harris. I think that’s his name anyway.”

It was indeed, so-called because of his world-renowned minty fresh…erm…”Aris” (look it up):

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Peppermint Harris – I Got Loaded

To round things off this week, I’ll hand you over to babylotti:

“Going to go all Antipodean on you here:  Valley makes me think of ‘In the Valley’ by Midnight Oil…”

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Midnight Oil – In the Valley

“…The Oil’s Rob Hirst filled in for Crowded House live when Hessie was ill, so my favourite from them, ‘Fall at Your Feet’…”

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Crowded House – Fall at Your Feet

I’d forgotten how many songs I know by them.

“…and Nick Seymour from Crowded House [if Midnight Oil are ‘The Oil’, are Crowded House not ‘The House…? – Facetious Ed] is the brother of Mark Seymour from Hunters & Collectors, so I’ll go for the oft covered ‘Throw Your Arms Around Me’ by them…”

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Hunters & Collectors – Throw Your Arms Around Me

Well, if you’re going to suggest that, then I’m going to suggest…no, enough already.

Here’s the next song in The Official Chain, and there’s a few “close, but no cigars” being handed out this week, goes like this:

“…Frank Zappa’s daughter, Moon Unit sang on ‘Valley Girl’. So from Moon Unit to…”

pink-moon

33.Nick Drake – Pink Moon

So, your suggestions please, via the Comments section below, for records that you can link, and explain the link in your suggestion, to Nick Drake’s “Pink Moon”.

We’ll be back to Wednesday next week again, so you have one day less than usual. Also, as it’ll be Christmas week, any festive suggestions would go down a treat.

See you next week!

More soon.