Sunday Morning Coming Down

In 2015, Tom Jones, aged 75, released his 41st studio album “Long Lost Suitcase”.

In recent years, his role on The Voice UK aside, Jones has been striving to return to his musical roots, his credibility (rightly) dented by such hits as “Sex Bomb”.

Which reminds me: I found myself in Cardiff one night when he happened to be playing, at Cardiff Castle I think. I was heading towards The Hog’s Head, a bar (that used to be) alongside the Owain Glyndŵr, and found the square outside packed with women of a certain age, all drinking and getting their knickers ready to throw at him. I picked my way through the throng, but ultimately found my passage blocked by a very, very large lady with her sizeable back to me.

“Excuse me…” I said, tapping on her shoulder.

She turned to face me, and I saw that she had the word “Sex” written in lipstick on one cheek, and “Bomb” on the other.

“You’ve not heard of the Trades Description Act, I assume?” I said (under my breath, obviously), before ducking smartly into the bar.

Ever since he’s stopped dying his hair and proclaiming that he thought he was “gonna dance now”, Jones has started making bluesy, soul records again; now he lets his voice do the talking, if that isn’t a weird thing to say.

And here, he tackles one that’s a little bit Country:

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Tom Jones – Why Don’t You Love Me Like You Used to Do?

Short, but sweet.

More soon.

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Friday Night Music Club

As you may recall from a recent post, I’m off to see Status Quo do an acoustic set tonight, so I thought, as a special treat, I’d do a special Quo-tastic Friday Night Music Club for you tonight.

No, wait, come back!!

When I say a special Quo-tastic post, I mean one which features absolutely no songs by Status Quo whatsoever. And yet, (cue the Twilight Zone music), all of them are.

You all know I have a pathological, some might say inexplicable, love of The Quo. You all also know I love cover versions too. So what we have here are ten songs which the double-denimed, perennially unfashionable, septum-less wonders (Only one of them has lost their septum through cocaine abuse – Legal Ed) have covered in their really rather long career.

If you were so inclined, you can split the Quo’s history into five stages:

  1. The Pre-Fame Years (up to 1967)
  2. The Psychedelic Pop Years (1968 – 1969)
  3. The Just Discovered How to Play their Signature Hard Rock/Boogie Years (1970 – 1971)
  4. The Very Succesful Years (or “The Seventies” as they’re more commonly known)
  5. Everything Else After That

If I’m honest, I could easily have compiled this list exclusively from the first two stages, but where would be the fun in that? I’ll be flitting between them, so please don’t expect me to be so organised as to have posted the songs in the order they covered them; instead I’ve gone for what I hope is an aesthetically pleasing running order instead.

So, belt yourself in, here we go:

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387. The Bee Gees – Spicks and Specks

Throughout their career, Quo have tried to cover records which weren’t hits in the UK, and this is a prime example: a hit for The Brothers Gibb in Australia in 1966, and in New Zealand, Japan, Germany and Netherlands a year later. Quo covered it on their first album, when they were still called The Status Quo, “Picturesque Matchstickable Messages from The Status Quo” which came out in 1968. No prizes for guessing which single they were cashing in on with that album title, eh?

From the same album, which featured the band perched atop a mountain of Swan Vestas matchboxes (See what they did there? Matchsticks!), comes this little ditty:

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388. The Lemon Pipers – Green Tambourine

Also released in 1967, this peaked at No 7 in the UK charts but made No 1 in the USA and Canada.

Time for me to ‘fess up now, this next one is a bit of a cheat by me, as it was written for the Quo when they were still wearing slightly awkward Carnaby Street gear on Top of The Pops, but the writer also recorded a version of it himself. Anyway, this is my list and let’s be honest, none of you are actually reading this anyway so I can make the rules up as I go along if I like:

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389. Marty Wilde – Ice In The Sun

Yes, that Marty Wilde. Father of 80s pop vixen Kim (who I once served in a motorway ‘restaurant’ when she was on tour supporting some chap called Michael Jackson. Dunno what happened to him).

(Quo’s version reached No 8 in the UK charts in 1968, by the way. Like you care.)

Now, by the end of the 1960s, the boys had shrewdly worked out that the brand of psychedelic bubble-gum pop they had been peddling thus far, and become famous for, was not going to remain popular for much longer (by which I mean, their hits had already dried up). They started searching for a new sound which would supply them with the commercial longevity they desired, and stumbled across it one night in a bar somewhere in Europe (Germany or Netherlands, I think), where they found themselves entranced watching two people dance to a chugging epic featuring a harmonica and a singer with a propensity for getting his knob out on stage (is that why he was called The Lizard King, do you think…?) who was arguably past the peak of his powers by the time this came out in 1970. This lot, and this song, in fact:

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390. The Doors – Roadhouse Blues

If any of you already have a healthy dislike for The Doors, well, you can add them being responsible for pretty much all of Quo’s recording career post-1970 to your list of reasons for hating them. You’re welcome.

Quo covered “Roadhouse Blues” on their 1972 break-through album “Piledriver”, but by then they had already released two other albums where they had honed their new sound: 1971’s “Dog of Two Head” and 1970’s “Ma Kelly’s Greasy Spoon”, from which this next one is lifted:

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391. Steamhammer – Junior’s Wailing

We all remember Steamhammer, right? Nope, me neither.

Okay, so let’s move on to some other songs they covered later in their career by people you have heard of. Here’s Tom Jones:

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392. Tom Jones – Something ‘Bout You Baby I Like

…and here’s Elvis Presley:

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393. Elvis Presley – A Mess of Blues

Those were covered by Quo in 1981 and 1983 respectively, both becoming UK Top 20 hits (reaching No 9 and No 15).

And, I don’t know if you know this, but Tom Jones knew Elvis Presley. You’d think he might mention that every now and again, wouldn’t you?

In the last few years (twenty years is “a few years”, right…?) they’ve released a couple of albums (1996’s “Don’t Stop” and 2003’s “Riffs”) which almost exclusively feature cover versions. I featured one of the covers in my How Not To Do a Cover Version thread here (be warned, both versions lurk there) and here’s another which just defies belief:

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394. Men Without Hats – The Safety Dance

Finally, here’s two songs which have been amongst their biggest UK chart hits (No 2 in 1986 and No 3 in 1977 respectively) and, to return to a point I made earlier, I don’t think it’s a coincidence to learn that many people have no idea that either are cover versions:

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395. Bolland – You’re In The Army Now

And finally, the song that opened Live Aid in 1985, and the song which is practically their signature tune:

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396. John Fogerty – Rocking All Over the World

Footnote: on the night I first moved to London, and into a flat with Hel, we had quite a lot to drink. We ended up playing records and talking about music. The topic of which artiste would be our specialist subject were we ever to go onto Mastermind came up. Without pausing, I said: “The UK Chart Hits of Status Quo between 1968 and 1986”.

The challenge was on, as Hel then produced a copy of the Guinness Book of Hit Singles and proceeded to test me.

My display was dazzling; I would say I got around 98% of the questions right, correctly stating the year and chart number each single got to, but also adding who wrote each one, the album it was taken from and what track number it was on the album in question (facts which weren’t actually included in the reference book, but I was definitely right).

How she didn’t ask me to move out again immediately is beyond me.

I mention this because when writing this, I haven’t had to look up any of those years/chart positions (apart from the non-Quo ones). Still got it.

Class dismisssed.

More soon (I’ll be here, even if you never darken my doorstep again after that).

Friday Night Music Club (Hot Dogs For Tea edition)

So, it’s over. The great Welsh adventure into Euro 2016 finally came to an end on Wednesday night when a rather fortuitous Portugal managed to put two absolute shinners past the mighty Dragons.

As promised last week, in their honour, this week’s Clwb Cerdd Nos Wener (Welsh for Friday Night Music Club, and this has been checked and verified by a Welsh speaking friend of mine) focuses on musical acts who have come from the Land of Song. Some are obvious, some less so. And there’s a lot to get through, so forgive me if I crack right on.

But first, a disclaimer: many of you will be familiar with The Robster’s very wonderful blog “Is This The Life?“, in which case you’ll also be familiar with his Welsh Wednesday thread. Inevitably, some of the same acts will pop up in this piece as have done over at his place, but where they do, I’ve tried to pick a different song. As I write this, The Robster is on post #94 – or #95 if you count his honouring of the Welsh football team late on Wednesday night – so if you hear anything you like in my post, then I’d recommend you pay him a visit for an absolute feast of all things Valley, like.

Ready? Tidy.

Right, let’s start by getting one of the big hitters out of the way. You all know who the Manic Street Preachers are, will be aware of their sad history and triumphant return, and that their single “Together Stronger” was the soundtrack to the Welsh campaign. So here’s something which I would offer to my dear friends who are heartbroken following Wales exit from the tournament:

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Manic Street Preachers – So Why So Sad (Avalanches Mix)

Don’t be sad. Cherish this. Lawd knows you’ve waited long enough. And you don’t know when it’s going to come around again. Although I suspect you won’t have such a long wait until the next time.

Here’s some Welsh language shenanigans to sort the Daffyds from the Dilwyns: a cover version especially recorded, I believe, for BBC Radio Cymru which I don’t think has been formally released (hence the absence of a proper sleeve):

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317. Candelas – Rhedeg i Paris

“Rhedeg i Paris” translates to mean “Run to Paris”, which seems an appropriate enough reason for them to cover it, what with the Euros being held in France and the final in Paris and everything.

The original of “Rhedeg i Paris” was by a Welsh punk rock band called Anhrefn (or sometimes Yr Anhrefn) which means “Disorder”, who hailed from Bangor, North Wales and who formed in 1982 and lasted until 1995.

They sounded like this:

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318. Yr Anhrefn – Dim Heddwch

(Last of the translations for you tonight: Dim Heddwch means No Peace)

Anhrefn were championed by John Peel, supported Joe Strummer on the Rock Against The Rich tour in 1988, and at one time had Super Furry Animals drummer Dafydd Ieuan amongst their ranks, but I’m sure they would agree the absolute pinnacle of their career came in 1992 when the Social Secretary at the Polytechnic of Wales insisted that St David’s Day be marked appropriately and put on a night of Welsh language acts, with Anhrefn top of the bill, and with a DJ playing nothing but Welsh records in between the acts. If I may misquote Max Boyce for a moment: I know, for I was that Social Secretary.

Years later, when I was in The Halfway pub in Pontcanna, Cardiff, I was approached by a very smiley chap who I half recognised, and he asked me what my name was. I told him, and he asked if I was the person responsible for said event all those years before. I conceded that I was, and he proceeded to buy me a pint and thank me; he was a proud Welsh-speaker, and was very dismayed at the scarcity of Welsh language entertainment around at the time, so had always treasured that night. Which made me feel quite proud, I must say.

Slightly better reaction than I got from the two girls in the Tut and Shive pub (RIP) in Cardiff who recognised me as “that wanker who booked Frank Sidebottom and wouldn’t give us our money back”, but you can’t win them all, I suppose.

Since I’ve mentioned Super Furry Animals, here’s one of there’s, a live favourite, and the B-side to 1997’s “Hermann Loves Pauline”:

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319. Super Furry Animals – Calimero

Back in time now to 1969, and a band who recorded several albums for The Beatles’ Apple label, and chalked up four Top 10 hits in the UK, including this one, which was written and produced by some chap called Paul McCartney. I wonder whatever happened to him?

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320. Badfinger – Come and Get It

The band’s name was a reference to “Bad Finger Boogie”, which was an early working title of Lennon & McCartney’s “With a Little Help From My Friends”, so called because Lennon had, according to legend, hurt his forefinger and only had one finger to play instruments with on the original demos (what happened to all of the rest of his fingers remains unclear) – although George Harrison would later claim that they were actually named after a stripper that the Beatles had known during their stint in Hamburg, who was called Helga Fabdinger. Hmmm. You decide, dear reader.

Perhaps Badfinger are best known, however, as being the creative force behind Harry Nilsson’s tear-jerking mega-smash “Without You”. The song, which was actually the amalgamation of two songs, the verses penned by Pete Ham and the chorus by Tommy Evans, won them the Ivor Novello (also Welsh) “Song of the Year” award in 1972.

The success of the song, and the subsequent arguments within the band over the royalties the song attracted, not only tore the band apart, but also led to the suicide of Evans in 1982.

Time for something more cheerful, I think, and to a man without whom no post about Welsh artistes would be complete:

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321. Tom Jones – What’s New Pussycat?

I’ve started to get the hang of watching major events whilst interacting on Twitter now – Eurovision this year was hilarious – and Tom was featured in one of my favourite Tweets from Wednesday night, courtesy of London Lee, who many of you will know from his excellent “Crying All The Way To The Chip Shop” blog who posted this:

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See? We don’t just restrict our fun and japes to our blogs, you know.

Link ahoy! Yes, one of Tom’s finest moments was “Green Green Grass of Home”, which leads me nicely on to my next record, which I was going to play in my “Same Title, Different Song” thread until I realised that there’s no “…of Home” in the title of the version on the “Songs of Ignorance” album , which I own, although there was on an earlier version of the song, which I don’t:

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322. Murry the Hump – Green Green Grass

Main Murry man Matthew and I have a few mutual friends, and we once spent a hugely enjoyable evening – right before Murry the Hump were due to play the Barfly in Cardiff for what I think was their last ever gig – playing drinking games and getting right royally trashed in The Rummer Tavern in Cardiff (You’re getting a right little tour of my favourite drinking dens in The Diff tonight, aren’t you?). It didn’t seem to stop them playing a blisteringly brilliant set afterwards, mind.

If you like that, I can thoroughly recommend the whole album; each song is a little diamond, just as catchy as “Green Green Grass” and with witty lyrics to die for. Matthew is now in The Keys (note: not The Black Keys), who I’ll probably feature on these pages sooner or later.

Now, some might say that Welsh fashion leaves a lot to be desired. Not me, you understand. Some people. Those other people. So here to dispel that myth are 1980s fashion gurus and ozone layer botherers The Alarm:

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323. The Alarm – Spirit of ’76

See? Cool as toast.

When I was a kid, The Alarm were almost exclusively liked by lads who also listed U2, Simple Minds and Big Country as their favourite bands; stadium rockers, all rousing choruses and fists punched in the air. Bar the occasional song which is the exception that proves the rule, I’m not a fan of any of those other three acts, but I do have to admit to having a bit of a soft spot for Mike Peters and the boys, that song in particular.

Something a little more contemporary now, although the sound is like Belle & Sebastian playing Northern Soul,  and the title echoes back to a certain Northern Soul classic by Frank Wilson that I once had played for me on 6Music (at my own request, I should add):

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324. The School – Do I Love You?

Okay, last one for this week, and I’m going to wrap things up with five words which would normally, understandably, compel many of you to say “Naww, you’re alright, you can stop now if you like”.

Those five words are: Here’s one by the Stereophonics.

Now. I agree that Stereophonics are a fairly dire bunch, but I have to admit to having greatly enjoyed their debut album, “Word Gets Around”, when it first came out. The sound was the same, bar-room rock drudge they peddle to this day, albeit slightly, but not much, rougher round the edges, and with far fewer dreadful ballads, but it was the lyrical quality that struck me most about that album, many of the songs providing little vignettes, stories about real people from the towns and villages the band members hailed from.

But then they went and got famous and started writing guff about how hard it is being on tour (“Have a Nice Day”) or how much the music press hate them and how unfair that is (“Mr Writer”), and that little spark of promise was gone.

Truth be told, it had been almost entirely extinguished by the time the second album, “Performance and Cocktails” came out – with the exception of one song on said album, which is an absolute belter.

So I give you the last decent record Stereophonics ever made:

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325. Stereophonics – The Bartender and The Thief

That’s all for this week; I’ll be back with the second (and final) ten \9poddibly eleven or twelve) in my homage to the Welsh football team and to Welsh music next week.

Oh and just in case you’re wondering what the “Hot Dogs For Tea” in the title of this post refers to, it’s this:

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More soon.

Friday Night Music Club

Regular visitors to the shores of Dubious Taste will know that I compile these weekly Friday Night playlists based on a couple of tunes that I hear during my daily commute to and from work. Sometimes, my permanently-on-shuffle iPod will play me something which instantly makes me think of a theme for the week, or which reminds me of another song, or just gives me a couple of songs which sound good next together.

Sometimes, and it’s a rare event, the stars align and all three happen. Such was the case with this week’s playlist. Since I only had four days in work this week, this was an absolute blessing.

So, shall we get cracking?

Twice a year, the clocks change in the UK. The event is always preceded by many conversations of the “Wait – is that the good one or the bad one?” variety. People here in the UK will often complain when the clocks go forward (the “bad one”), moaning that they have an hour less in bed on Saturday night/Sunday morning. I’ve never understood this. Unless you have somewhere to be on a Sunday, why on earth would you change the clocks before you get out of bed on the Sunday? Just stay in bed until whatever time you like, get up, and then change the clocks. Lose an hour of your day instead of your night, if you like night so much.

And for those who are not in the UK and have no idea what I’m banging on about…I really can’t be bothered to explain why we change the time twice a year, other than because we can. Go Google it if you’re that interested.

Anyway, Tuesday morning started badly for me. I had gone to great lengths to remind all of my work colleagues that the clocks were to go forward on Easter Sunday, had done the same when visiting my parents over the weekend, and then wouldn’t you just know it, totally forgot to change my own alarm clock when I got home on Monday, which led me to over sleep on Tuesday morning. A mad scramble to shower and get to work if not on time, then not too late, followed. (Luckily my boss had done something similar, sending me a text to apologise as she was also running late, having missed her train.)

My iPod had me covered though. Here’s what it decided to play me:

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204. Dusty Springfield – I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself

When your day starts so badly that you’re still getting dressed as you’re waiting at the bus stop (my apologies to the neighbours: that wasn’t a wardrobe malfunction you witnessed, it was a life malfunction, like that makes it any better), the sound of Dusty breathing into your ears certainly settles the nerves.

And then my iPod gave me this:

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205. Teenage Fanclub – I Need Direction

Admittedly, not one of my favourites by The Fannies, but I sensed a certain neediness in my iPods selections, a sense which was only confirmed by the next choice:

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206. Peter Frampton – Show Me The Way

I don’t feel I know him well enough to call him Pete.

Frampton first found fame in the late 1960s as a member of The Herd, where he was dubbed “the Face of 68” (that’s the year, not a slightly disappointing sexual position), which led to the band attracting a somewhat teen audience, which caused issues with the less pretty members of the band. (Also in the band: one Andy Bown, who has been an official member of The Quo ever since 1977. Read into that what you will).

They split shortly afterwards, and Frampton was recruited into Humble Pie, Steve Marriott’s first post-Small Faces project. Despite some modicum of success, Frampton quit in 1971 to go solo.

But despite his early success as part of the aforementioned bands, Frampton’s first three solo albums tanked, and it wasn’t until the release of “Frampton Comes Alive!” in 1976 that his fortunes finally changed. This is not the sort of career path that many artists take: I can’t think of another act who released three consecutive albums to an increasingly lukewarm reaction, and who then decided, with his record label’s blessing, the way to turn things round was to release a live album (although I do wonder if he’d signed a four album deal and this was just a way of fulfilling his contractual obligations).

But work it did, in no small part to his use of the “talk box” on today’s choice, that odd “wah-wah-wah-wah-wah” noise that forms the solo part of the song.

And yes, I know we’re all supposed to laugh at Frampton and poke fun at his records, but “Show Me The Way” fulfills one of the criteria which allows us to like such things, namely: has a band we all agree are cool done a cover version which is not seemingly ironic? The answer here is a resounding “yes”:

Anyway, by now, a theme for my playlist had been identified: being lost, needing help, and then getting advice, instructions or orders. I set about, as I always do, trying to think of songs which fit my self-imposed remit.

Which brings me on to the next track. A couple of weeks ago, I got sent one of those things on Facebook where someone asks you to name your favourite bands, songs, etc; this one was asking me to name 12 albums which had “stayed with me”, which I took to mean albums that meant as much to me now as when I bought them, rather than albums which have become like an unwelcome lodger, sleeping on the sofa, eating crisps, and leaving floaters in the toilet. Although, Lord knows I have plenty of records that fit that description.

One of my choices was this one:

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207. The Housemartins – Over There

I loved The Housemartins, and I’m slightly surprised this is the first song I’ve posted by them. Seriously, what’s not to love about a band who are modest enough to refer to themselves as “the fourth best band from Hull”, who had a penchant for wearing rather fetching cardigans, who were often asked in interviews about their collection of crisp packets, who spawned Fatboy Slim and The Beautiful South, and who also had a drummer who in 1993 was sentenced to spend six years at Her Majesty’s Pleasure for assaulting his former business associate with an axe and setting fire to his house. Three times.

Next up, from the days when 7″ singles didn’t even have picture sleeves, and when Smokey Robinson was still just Bill “Smokey” Robinson, and his band were still just The Miracles and not Smokey Robinson and The Miracles:

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208. The Miracles – Way Over There

Dusty and Smokey in the same post. I spoil you, I really do. I may also have just invented two new hand puppets to go with Sooty and Sweep.

Moving back to the 1980s now, and an absolute classic, and one which had every kid at my school attempted to do both the rap and the rock parts at school discos:

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209. Run-DMC [feat. Aerosmith] – Walk This Way

By the time this came out, we were used to rap records sampling rock records, but this was the first time we had heard two acts from the different spheres actually performing together.

So, whilst we’re fusing musical styles in  way that would make Richard Vranch jealous (obscure 1980s television reference for you there) here’s some folksters covering some rock:

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210. The Folksmen – Start Me Up

For those of you not in the know, “A Mighty Wind” is a film brought to you by the same folks as one of the greatest, funniest movies ever: “This is Spinal Tap”. I doubt there is a single music blogger out there who doesn’t adore the endlessly quotable “…Spinal Tap” and “A Mighty Wind”, though less quotable than “…Spinal Tap” does for the world of folk what “…Spinal Tap” did for the world of rock: it affectionately mocks it.

Indeed, The Folksmen are none other Jerry Palter (played by Michael McKean, or David St Hubbins in “…Spinal Tap”), Alan Barrows (Christopher Guest/Nigel Tufnel) and Mark Shubb (Harry Shearer/Derek Smalls). If you haven’t watched it, I urge you to rectify that as soon as possible. I love it almost, but not quite, as much as I love “This is Spinal Tap”, which is bloody loads.

Next, a similarly folky sounding bunch who the internet seems to know very little about. From their one and only album, originally released in 1985 on Go! Discs, but recently picked up and re-released by Cherry Red (Gawd bless ’em) and available here, ladies and gents I give you The Boothill Foot-Tappers:

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211. The Boothill Foot-Tappers – Get Your Feet Out Of My Shoes

I remember reading about them in Smash Hits and being immediately intrigued, but found it difficult to actually track down anything by them. A couple of years later, after we had finished our shift in the motorway restaurant we both had the misfortune to work at, my boss Jane and I would often go to her house, have a couple of drinks, play some records and have a bit of a sing-song (anyone who has ever lived with me knows that this is one of my most basic pleasures in life, and actually is the conception of the Friday Night Music Club).

On one such occasion, I was flicking through her vinyl collection (not a euphemism) and found she had a copy of this album. We popped it on, and I immediately adored it. I left her flat clutching a copy on a C-90 cassette, along with her vinyl copy of Kate Bush’s “The Kick Inside” album, which she told me I could keep for reasons that I can’t quite recall. I still have them both to this day, though I haven’t seen or heard from Jane in about 20 years or so. Which tells you quite a bit about me, I guess.

For some reason, something tells me that Elvis Costello had something to do with them (producer…?), though I may be getting mixed up with his involvement with The Pogues’ “Rum Sodomy & The Lash” album, and being Mr Cait O’Riordan of early Pogues fame (although in 2008 she denied ever having been married to Costello, saying “We weren’t married…It was a kind of Muslim ‘I divorce you’ kind of thing.”)

Or maybe O’Riordan herself is the link, as in my attempts to find something, anything about them (other than numerous references to them being a cow-punk band who only ever released one album…thanks, knew that already!) I find that in 1983 Darryl Hunt intended to ask The Boothill’s Wendy May to join his jazz band “Pride of the Cross”, but when he mentioned this to O’Riordan she apparently laughed and told him that she ought to do it. I dunno. It’s a real head-scratcher and no mistake. Answers on a postcard please (or in the Comments Section would be better).

I digress. Let’s have another tune.

Some of you may recall that I’m in the process of adding the first 75 “Now…!” albums onto my iPod and the next choice was the first that it randomly gave me from the second volume:

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212. Matt Bianco – Get Out Of Your Lazy Bed

Do you remember back in the 1980s, when Saturday morning television wasn’t an endless stream of cookery programmes, but were actually a load of shows aimed at keeping kids preoccupied for a couple of hours? Often, the shows would have pop stars of the day in the studio, and they would be subjected to a phone-in. This was revolutionary at the time, the first time that the general public had been allowed to interact with celebrities, a precursor to Twitter if you will.

People of a certain age will know exactly where I’m going with this:

Priceless.

There’s only one way to follow that, from the 9th “Now..!” volume:

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213. 5 Star – Stay Out Of My Life

People of a certain age will know exactly where I’m going with this too:

Equally priceless.

Moving swiftly on, to a chap who needs no introduction:

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214. Tom Jones – Help Yourself

He knew Elvis Presley, you know. Keeps it quiet, though. Rarely mentions it.

Something a little more contemporary next:

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215. Lykke Li – Get Some

Thought my earlier mention of Andy Bown was going to be the only Quo reference this week? Think again (with obligatory take-down busting mis-spelling):

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216. Quaters Toe – Whatever You Want

Now, you can all laugh about my love of all things Quo, but it turns out even I have limits. In 2008, I found out just what those limits were: a duet with German techno outfit Scooter.

Jesus wept, I’d forgotten just how  horrendous that is. If “Walk This Way” is the finest example of rock and rap working sublimely then that is the polar opposite. My ears, my ears! Is it possible to unhear something?

When I started seeking out songs which fitted this week’s theme I initially came up with about ten. As I started writing this post, loads more came to mind, far too many to cover in just one week. So, you lucky people, you get Part 2 next week. I actually prefer next week’s. That’s what I believe is known as “a teaser”, though having just posted the above video you could be forgiven for never darkening my doorstep again.

I can’t possibly leave you with that last monstrosity ringing in your ears, so this seems an appropriate record to finish on:

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217. The Smiths – I Started Something I Couldn’t Finish

Deep breaths, that’s the way. And relax. Normality restored.

More so

Glastonbury, So Much To Answer For (Part 4b)

And so to Saturday.

I am knackered from Friday night. Sadly, not from any late night dad-dancing into the small hours, but because the trudge back from the Park Stage was a real ball-ache. The rain, you see, the rain. Although it had stopped a few hours earlier, the damage was done, pathways churned up by 175,000 revellers desperate to get to Avalon, to Silver Hayes (the new name for the Dance Tents, though quite what was wrong with calling them the Dance Tents is beyond me. Maybe it was a bit too Ronseal. Perhaps in years to come the Pyramid Stage will be rechristened The Pointy Place) to The Glade, to Arcadia.

Arcadia is close to where we are camped, and the central feature is used as a reference point to guide us back to our tents. At night-time it’s easy to spot, a giant spidery thing which spurts fire, like this:

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Fairly noticeable, right? But during the day, there it stands, sans flames, sans booming techno, sans massive throng of people. Every time I walk past it in the day time, cold and stationary, legs akimbo, it strikes me as being almost gynaecological, which reminds me I really must start my therapy again sometime. And phone my mother.

Anyway, Saturday, and I emerge from my tent to find the weather overcast and, without doing anything as sensible as either checking a) what effect the rain had actually had on the terrain, or b) the little book around my neck with the running order on it, I decide to return to my tent, in frankly a bit of a sulk.

I have it in my head that there’s nobody I want to see until Burt Bacharach on the Pyramid. I am wrong, and I am a twat. This assumption means I miss one of the acts I really wanted to see: Courtney Barnett. When I get home, I plough through all the BBC Glastonbury stuff I recorded, find this and I immediately regret not seeing her. There’s something about this, maybe the almost spoken delivery of the verses that reminds me of Sheryl Crow’s “All I Wanna Do” which is no bad thing in my book. (To add to my misery, when researching this post – and yes, I do research, though you’d be hard pushed to notice it – I find this duet with one of my heroes, Evan Dando and I’m even more gutted to have missed her.)

When I resurface, I find that I have managed to miss a couple of young lady guests that Andy has brought over to the camp site for a barbecue. I also find much hilarity ensuing at what Dean has brought to assist with the barbecues:

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(With thanks to Chad for the photo and for reminding me about this).

I pull my wellies on and head to the Pyramid. The ground is firm. I curse my glass-half-empty thoughts about the state the terrain would be in, and pitch up to watch Burt Bacharach.

He is, and I hate to say this about a living legend, a wee bit disappointing. It’s not so much the fact that he doesn’t actually sing many of the songs himself: he’s never really been renowned for his singing prowess, and when he does venture to give his tonsils an airing it’s croakier than Kermit in need of a lozenge.

But I have a couple of other issues with his set. Firstly, we rarely get to hear a song all of the way through. This is kind of understandable, when you think about the vast back catalogue of classic songs he wrote or co-wrote with Hal David. Burt wants to appease each and every one of us by performing the one we like, and the only way to do that is to only perform a bit of each. And so, Pyramid becomes Medley-Central for the next hour.

The other problem is that we associate most of his songs with absolute classic, legendary singers: Aretha Franklin, Dusty Springfield, Dionne Warwick, Sandie Shaw, Tom Jones …er…Cilla Black…um……Christopher Cross… oh you know, classic, legendary singers.

But what we get are three singers performing snippets of these great, great songs who, whilst very good, are just a little bit cruise ship. They’re never going to do these wonderful songs justice and certainly aren’t going to really affect the on-looking crowd. It’s all just a bit….bland.

Anyway, here’s Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head (which would have been better had he played it on Friday evening) and the utterly schmaltzy That’s What Friends Are For.

Next up is Paloma Faith. I’ve always had a bit of a soft-spot for this bat-shit crazy flame haired Hackney-ite, mostly from her flirtatious appearances alongside Noel Fielding on “…Buzzcocks” and I quite like a couple of songs off her first album. (On the matter of Noel Fielding, if you’ve never heard him tell the story of the time he went missing from his own tour, and was found working in a second hand vintage clothing shop in Brighton, then listen to this: funny as fuck.)

I am totally unprepared for just how much of a show-woman she is; she looks amazing, puts on an utterly spellbinding set, and I don’t really mind that I only know one of her songs (putting aside her frankly inexplicable decision to cover Purple Haze), or that she wants to get off her chest something about a bad thing that the red-tops have written about her, of which most of us have no knowledge, but seems to be about her saying she hates Glastonbury. Paloma: we know The Sun is full of bollocks, there really is no need to clarify.

Anyway, she clearly doesn’t hate Glastonbury. She clearly loves it and has an absolute ball.

She has as much of a blast as we all do watching her. Here’s her doing “Only Love Can Hurt Like This” but the crowd goes uber-wild when she wheels on two blokes behind keyboards/decks; they are apparently called Sigma, they are more than adept at pretending they are actually doing something with their keyboards/decks other than pressing Play, and they rattle through “Changing“, the crowd going mental joining in the “Oh-Oh-Oh-Oh-Oh-Oh-Oh-Oh-Oh-Oh” chorus (they don’t write ’em like that anymore) and I have never felt older.

As Paloma finishes, I espy Chad, Llyr, Emily, Andrew and Cara wending their way through the crowd. I join them, and after much standing around (mostly trying to work out where Andy is – we know he has his magical alchemy vodka drinks and we therefore need him) we make our way down the slope to a decent clearing ready for the next act: Pharrell Williams. Located, Andy passes me a bottle full of chocolate vodka, a swig and all is right with the world.

Pharrell is essentially the warm up guy for Saturday night’s headliner, Kanye West. Emily has written “Kan” in lipstick on her right cheek, and “Yay!” on her left in anticipation of the main event, which could also be construed as a show of strength and unity: his booking has been massively criticised, an on-line petition against his appearance at the festival has attracted waaaaay to many signatories from reactionaries and racists, and its refreshing to see someone wear their heart on their, errr, cheeks.

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To be honest, the Eavis’ need not have booked Kanye, for Pharrell utterly owns the Pyramid Stage for the next hour or so. He treats us not just to his solo stuff, but to just about every record he has ever been involved in (actually, that’s not true – we’d still be there if he did that), so we get treated to a barrage of Pharrell’s Greatest Hits: “Frontin“, “Marilyn Monroe“, “Hot in Herre” (yes, I have chosen the magnificently camp Tiga version over the Nelly one there); “Lap Dance“, “She Wants to Move“, “Hollaback Girl“, a triumphant and glorious version of “Get Lucky” and we even manage to cast our liberal outrage aside to dance and sing-a-long to misogynist sex-fest “Blurred Lines” on the strict proviso that he doesn’t wheel out misogynist sex-pest Robin Thicke to co-perform it.

Pharrell’s set is embellished by a group of highly gyratory dancers, and also by ushering on stage a load of your common-or-garden punters, the male section of which seem to be hurried off equally quickly, leaving a group of awkward but star-struck young ladies to frug their way through a couple of songs whilst Pharrell and his enclave direct us to watch a dancer literally standing on her head and spinning. If this is what spinning classes involve, then I’m glad I’ve avoided them (and anything else which vaguely resembles a gym class).

Pharrell’s set is book-ended by an intro and super-long crowd sing-a-long-a-climax of “Freedom“, complete with cute kids brought on stage to stand and look cute, and then he is off, taking his Adidas-arse-logoed jeans with him and allowing the BBC producers to breathe again without fear of allegations of product placement being launched against them.

Now then. The Big One. Kanye. It can’t have escaped your attention that his set was, shall we say, more than a little contentious. I have no intention watching him. But let me set my position straight: I have no issue with Kanye West headlining the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury. He’s not my cup of tea, so I won’t be joining in, but I appreciate that there’s a lot of people here who do want to see him, and I think he’s earned the right to be here. I had the same feeling about Jay-Z when he headlined a few years ago – I wasn’t there, probably wouldn’t have watched him if I had been, but those who did, fair play, enjoy!

The comparison between Jay-Z’s appearance and Glastonbury and Kanye’s is an interesting one. Both attracted quite the media storm when their appearances were announced (Noel: I think you’re often quite the amusing rent-a-mouth, but you just came across as a bit of a dick on the Jay-Z issue) but only one came away from their Saturday Night Glasto set with their integrity and standing intact, and it wasn’t Kanye. Why? Well, I watched the footage back when I got home, and it seemed to me the difference was that whilst Jay-Z was all charm personified, Kanye just seemed determined to prove himself to be a serious artiste.

Oh, and Jay-Z probably knows how Bohemian Rhapsody goes, and wouldn’t have attempted to ingratiate himself by singing it anyway.

And from what I gather from all those who stayed and watched him, and from the oh so many comments posted on social media, nobody else bought it either.

In short: Kanye bombed.

I later learn that Emily has changed the “Yay!” on her right cheek to “Nay!”, thereby earning herself some additional cool points which she really didn’t need, and effortlessly summing up the Saturday night headliner at the Pyramid.

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As I said, I have decided not to watch Kanye. I am going to watch Suede. Suede are a band I was moderately obsessed with in the early 90s; I bought all of their early singles on the day they were released, along with the accompanying t-shirt of each, but somehow I have managed to never see them live. Well, not a full gig anyway. I have wandered past the Pyramid before and caught a snippet of them, but a full gig? Nosireebob.

As soon as Pharrell finishes, I announce I am off and I make my way to the John Peel stage. I am early and am delighted to catch the end of La Roux’s set. Her performance of “Bulletproof” is awesome and almost – but not  quite – gets these old bones a-dancing (they’re knackered from dancing to Pharell).

Getting inside the tent for Suede is a non-starter, so I position myself outside in my little fold-up chair, in front of a flag (so nobody could sneak up behind me and steal my chair/booze/etc), ciders a-ready for quaffing.

It turns out to be quite a wise decision: I can see the stage and one of the screens, and a bit more importantly I can hear perfectly, and Suede are just…awesome. Brett Anderson is on great form, a lithe prowling skinny narcissist, working the crowd like a true pro. Five songs in and I’m in heaven: we’ve had Pantomime Horse, Moving, Trash, Animal Nitrate, We Are The Pigs….Suede were well and truly tearing up the John Peel Stage. Watch it here, listen to it all here, or if you just want a couple of numbers, then here’s Beautiful Ones and glorious come-back single “It Starts and Ends With You

Filled with Britpop joy, I head home, fall into my tent and lay there, listening to the world go by. I’m fairly close to a pathway, and at one point I hear two people walking past, discussing Kanye.

“I quite like him, actually”

“What, even now? Before and after?”

“Before: yes. After: No, he was shit. I’d defend him, but not that far!”

I realise I made the right decision and fall into snooze-mode.