The Chain #37

“Sunday, Sunday here again in tidy attire
You read the colour supplement, the TV guide…”

Well, you can now add “The Chain” to the list of things to read on a Sunday, although events have rather caught up with me, meaning that it will be a race against the clock for me to get this finished by the end of the day.

We ended The Chain #36 with “Hyperactive!” by Thomas Dolby and the usual request for your suggestions for songs that can be linked to that tune. Let’s see what you came up with.

First, a batch of songs which link to “Hyperactive!” the song, and “Hyperactive!” the physical state, first amongst them being submitted by Rol from My Top Ten:

“‘Hyperactive!’ begins with a psychiatrist asking Dolby to “Tell me about your childhood.” So my first choice is…”

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Black Box Recorder – Child Psychology

Which allows me to blow the dust off of my Chain Catchphrase early doors this week. So, if you’re suggesting that, then I’m suggesting this:

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The Avalanches – Frontier Psychiatrist (Radio Edit)

A few weeks ago, Babylotti got in touch to put me on notice that he was looking to suggest a song which he thought it would be impossible for me to locate a copy of. This week is the week he put that into practice:

“Okay so starting off with the Hyperactive link, it reminds me of another 80s songster, Alexei Sayle. He had a hit with ‘Ullo John! Gotta New Motor?’ (not the link yet) [which is lucky, as it’s featured before, so I’d have had to disqualify it] in the charts at the exact same time as ‘Hyperactive!’, [I’ve checked this, and it is correct: 26/02/84, ‘Hyperactive!’ was at #29 on it’s way down from #17, whilst ‘Ullo John! Gotta New Motor?’ was at #35 on it’s way to the giddy heights of #15]  but in 1982 he released a single as the Albanian World Cup Squad, ‘Albania! Albania!’ (as threatened/promised!). With a chorus quite reminiscent of the Blackadder theme tune, I first heard it on the Anne Nightingale show back then, had been after it ever since.”

One of the rules here at The Chain is that if you suggest a song then you must be able to supply a copy of it in the event that I don’t already own it, or am unable to source it. This has happened 4 or 5 times since we started, and you won’t be surprised to learn than I couldn’t find this one. I had been prepared for this, as Babylotti previously advised me that as far as he was aware, it was only available on one website.

That website, he revealed, was his Soundcloud page. Should be easy enough to find, I thought, typing the words “babylotti” and “soundcloud” into Google. Did it find babylotti’s Soundcloud page? Did it heck. But what it did reveal is that some chap called Rick Shide has been reposting The Chain verbatim for a few months now on something called ‘Inoreader’.

Let’s all give Rick a wave, shall we?

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Hi Rick!

I’m sure you’re all as flattered as I am.

Anyway, to babylotti’s suggestion, which he ended up adding to his own blog, Livin’ Out Rock’n’Roll in order that you can all hear it today. I have to admit, it is pretty funny:

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The Albanian World Cup Squad – Albania Albania!

Babylotti then goes off at a bit of tangent, which is fine, as long as it’s justifiable, and his next two suggestions are, linking to “Hyperactive!” via the aforementioned Alexei Sayle record:

“I’ll then stay with the football theme and choose the song from when New Order ruled the world, World in Motion. The greatest football song ever, and that’s coming from a Republic of Ireland supporter…”

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New Order – World In Motion

Of course, one of the highlights of that record is the rap performed by John Barnes, and let’s be honest, other than that goal against Brazil, it was probably the most impressive thing he ever did in an England shirt.

Caught up on the tube in August last year, Barnes was kind enough to treat his fellow travellers with an impromptu rendition:

“And my last one,” babylotti rounds off, “which always reminds me of Goal of the Month:”

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The Lightning Seeds – The Life Of Riley

It wasn’t just the song title “Hyperactive!” that was linked to; many others linked to Hyperactive the condition.

Over now to Jules from Music From Magazines. In case you have any issues deciphering Jules’ contributions, as I did this week, please note something he said in a Comments Conversation we had yesterday:

“Please check the time I posted this , music from mags rules are only post in pubs…”

A fine rule, which I may have to bring in as mandatory…

Anyway, here’s Jules’ first suggestion:

“A Hyperactive Thomas can cause many problems, so let’s get it out the system and try Ivor Biggun and….”

Stop right there. Let me just slap one of these labels on this one:

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Although, it’s hardly needed, you can pretty much get the gist from the sleeve, the artist (I use that term most misguidedly) and song title:

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Ivor Biggun – I’m A Wanker

Ivor Biggun is a the “comic” creation of Doc Cox, who some of you may remember from his stint as one of the co-hosts of consumer show “That’s Life!”, a show spoofed here by the “Not The Nine O’Clock News” team (albeit, in pre-Cox days):

Thankfully, The Robster from Is This The Life? is here to de-smut proceedings:

“If you are hyperactive, some, or all, of your senses are working overtime so at the risk of requesting something that’s been used before….”

I must admit, I thought it had too, but nope!

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XTC – Senses Working Overtime

A couple more suggestions from me now. A quick browse through my thesaurus tells me that synonyms of the word “Hyperactive” are “Over Excited”, so….

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The Housemartins – Five Get Over Excited

…and “Excitable”, so…

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Amazulu – Excitable

If you ever need to investigate whether there was a link between increased illegal drug use (non-contraceptive) and teenage pregnancies in the 1980s, then you could probably cite this record, for gleefully announcing over a summery, steel drum tune that the lead singer is “drowning in amphetamines” and, even more irresponsibly, that “I don’t care if you get me into trouble”. Yours faithfully, Outraged, Tunbridge Wells.

Finally in this first batch, here’s Alyson from What’s It All About, Alfie? who, like me, went to see ‘T2 Trainspotting’ this week and, like me, bloody loved it. That’s a recommendation, by the way.

“Ian Watkins from the group Steps was always called “H” which was short for Hyperactive – If you’ve ever seen him being interviewed on telly (no I wouldn’t admit to it either) you will know why. The song of theirs that I’m going to choose is…”

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Steps – Tragedy

That’s not quite what I first thought the “H” stood for, if I’m honest…

Regular visitors to these pages will know that each week one suggestion is crowned “Worst Record of the Week”. Unbelievably, this week that record is not by Steps.

Moving on, and several of you provided links to Mr Dolby himself; here’s Rigid Digit from Stuff & Nonsense with one of them:

“Thomas Dolby was in The Camera Club (a band, not a photographic society) with Bruce Woolley.  Bruce Woolley was co-writer (with Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes) of ‘Video Killed The Radio Star’, the song which epitomises all things 80s (even though it was released in 1979).

Many earholes have agreed that the Bruce Woolley and The Camera Club version is superior.”

Let’s find out, shall we?

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Bruce Woolley – Video Killed The Radio Star

Over to Walter from a few good times in my life:

“Thomas Dolby wrote ‘New Toy’ by Lene Lovich a song that was played often long long years ago”.

Not be my, it wasn’t: other than her totally ace/bonkers (delete as applicable) Stiff release “Lucky Number” I don’t think I’ve ever heard anything else by her:

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Lene Lovich – New Toy

Okay, now I have.

The first suggestion we received this week was from The Great Gog, whose nominated track leads us rather nicely into the next batch of similarly-themed-suggestions:

“A fairly straightforward double-link springs to mind immediately. Thomas Dolby was involved in the production of Prefab Sprout’s ‘From Langley Park To Memphis’ album (although duties were shared out on that one). That album just happens to include another song with an exclamation mark at the end of the titles, so “Hey Manhattan!” it is.”

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Prefab Sprout – Hey Manhattan!

Yes, The Great Gog was not the only person to suggest a song on the basis that it, or the performing artist, had an exclamation mark in the name somewhere.

Welcome to SWC from When You Can’t Remember Anything with a swift three in a row followed by a mic drop:

“Hyperactive has an ! at the end of it. This I think also adorns the cover of “Enough is Enough” by Chumbawamba…”

It does:

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Chumbawamba & Credit to the Nation – Enough Is Enough

“If it doesn’t then I will go for ‘Hyper Enough’ by Superchunk…”

Well, it does, but I’ll allow this on the basis that, well, because it’s Superchunk:

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Superchunk – Hyper Enough

“Or continuing the ! theme ‘Annihilate Now!’ By Idlewild.”

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Idlewild – Annihilate Now!

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Next up, it’s Martin from New Amusements, who suggests a song by a band who are very dear to me indeed:

“Hyperactive has an exclamation mark at the end. Mid-80s twee-merchants The Chesterfields used to use an inverted exclamation mark as the “i” in their name, so how about ‘Ask Johnny Dee’ by The Chesterfields? Or maybe that should be The Chesterf¡elds…”

Taken from their jingly-jangly guitar lost classic “Kettle”, an album which came out in 1987 on the oft-overlooked Subway Records label; I recently placed it in a “Top 1o albums which have stayed with me” Facebook round-robin thing.

I’d completely forgotten about the ! in their name, and I have to say I’m bloody delighted to have the chance to post a song by them, even if they are very much “of their time”.

Oh but before I do, a clarification from Martin:

“On closer inspection, the exclamation mark in The Chesterfields wasn’t inverted, just normal i.e. The Chesterf!elds.”

It’s still in.

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The Chesterfields – Ask Johnny Dee

Last of the Exclamation Marks now, and another of my suggestions. In all honesty, when the first song linked by the exclamantion mark came in, I thought there would be no way that somebody wouldn’t suggest something by this lot.

If you don’t know this band, but like “House of Jealous Lovers”-era The Rapture, then I’d heartily recommend you give this a spin, if for no other reason than it’s prowling Slits “I Heard It Through the Grapevine”-esque bass line:

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!!! – Me and Giuliani Down by the School Yard (A True Story)

Okay, on to other Thomas’s now, and back to The Great Gog:

“Around the time that Mr. Dolby was first active musically, there was another keyboard player called Thomas releasing records, albeit with less commercial success – Thomas Leer. Mr. Leer later went on to be part of Act, who had a minor hit with ‘Snobbery & Decay’.”

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Act – Snobbery & Decay

Well, if you’re suggesting that, then I’m suggesting this, featuring Claudi Brücken, who was also in Act:

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Propaganda – Duel

Also hailing from the When You Can’t Remember Anything blog, here’s Badger:

“From Thomas Dolby to a Thomas who actually quite good – Thomas Bangalter from Daft Punk and the click tastic ‘Giorgio by Morodor’.”

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Daft Punk – Giorgio by Moroder

“My second choice,” continues Badger, “is ‘Thomas the Fib’ by much missed dancey jazz pioneers Red Snapper from their excellent ‘Prince Blimey’ album. Prince Blimey being the bastard son of Prince William and Katie Price from their ill advised affair of 2001. That was exposed by the Daily Mirror after Wills was seen leaving a kebab shop at 3 in the morning and letting himself into the back door of Price’s Penge Maisonette.” [Can we insert the word ‘allegedly’ in that at least once and preferably several times please? – Legal Ed]

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Red Snapper – Thomas the Fib

Right, you know who this week’s instalment of The Chain is missing? George, that’s who. Up you step, George:

“From Thomas (Dolby) to the diminutive Tommy, which could lead to any number of tracks from a double by The Who, but won’t, but does lead to Eric Clapton who performed Eyesight to the Blind in the film Tommy (I went with my mum to see that film).. Sonny Boy Williams (the second one) does the original”

I’m assuming it’s the original version that you want:

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Sonny Boy Williamson II – Eyesight to the Blind

Now, remember earlier that Jules revealed that he only ever posts when in the pub? Here’s another one from him, which he submitted after I had asked what on earth he was dribbling on about in two of his other suggestions (one of which i still don’t understand):

“St Thomas supported Lambchop at the Wedgewood Rooms in Portsmouth some years back, as the encore started we had to go to get the last ferry home. And the song a cover of The Stranglers “(Get a) Grip (of Yourself)’.”

Some admin, from me: the St Thomas referred to does not imply that Thomas Dolby has received some kind ecclesiastical sanctity; it is the performing name of one Thomas Hansen. Also, the cover isn’t by St Thomas, it’s by Lambchop, a live version of which appears on their “Rainer on my Parade” album, but I’m posting the studio version.

Some admin from Jules: “This [choice] is not a reference to my previous ‘I’m a Wanker’ suggestion.”

If you say so, Jules, if you say so…

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Lambchop – Grip

Two more categories to go now, and unsurprisingly, many of you linked to Thomas Dolby’s surname, and the technical side of sound reproduction.

I’ll let Martin explain:

“Dolby, as anyone of a certain vintage (i.e. all of us) knows, is the de facto tape hiss reduction technology. Dolby-B was most common. Dolby-C less so – better hiss reduction but too much loss of treble. Dolby-S came knocking just as tape succumbed to burning your own CDs instead, but it was brilliant! Especially if recording on a good quality metal tape (TDK MA90 or, better still, Sony Metal-XR)… sorry, turning into a hi-fi geek. The suggestion. So for me, Dolby makes me think “S” and hence, unfortunately, S-Express and ‘Theme From S-Express’. Not something I’m desperate to hear again…”

Long-term readers will know that some time ago I ran a very short-lived thread about the samples used on certain records, and ran one post which looked at exactly this tune. You can read it again here (not sure if the links are still active, let me know if not).

Anyway, here’s S’Express:

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S’Express – Theme From S’Express

Next to chip in is Michael, who suggests the sort of tune that Dirk normally does:

“Thomas Dolby > Alternative TV. Dolby as noise reduction, most TVs today have Dolby. I guess Action Time and Vision kind of sounds hyperactive.”

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Alternative TV – Action Time Vision

Before we go any further, a suggestion of a different sort. As mentioned earlier, one of the rules here is that we don’t play the same tune twice (unless the first time it was played it was because it featuring in The Official Chain, rather than being suggested by one of us). When you leave your Comment/Suggestion, you should have the option of ticking a little box which lets you know if anyone replies to your Comment – please tick this, for in the event of me being unable to source the song, or in case I need you to clarify your suggestion, or, as happened here, you suggested something that had already featured, it makes it a lot easier for me to get in touch with you. Thanks.

So, back to Rigid Digit:

“Spinal Tap reference time:

 When discussing the failure of their new album (‘Smell The Glove’), Jeanine Pettibone (David St Hubbins’ girlfriend) stated that the problem with the album was that “You can’t do Heavy Metal in DOBLY”

Suggested track: ‘Stonehenge’.”

Which we’ve had before (#32). So, in the absence of a response from Rigid to my request for an alternative suggestion, I’ve, er, plumped for this one:

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Spinal Tap – Big Bottom

Back to George now, who picks up the Dolby theme and runs with it, followed, it has to be said, by more than one of us:

“The Dolby system on tapes was to reduce hiss. Something else that makes a hiss is a snake, hence the track ‘Long Snake Moan’ by P J Harvey”

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PJ Harvey – Long Snake Moan

“See how I didn’t choose Union Of The Snake by Duran Duran…?” George signs off.

What, this?

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Duran Duran – Union of the Snake

A joint suggestion now, for The Swede of Unthought of, though, somehow nominated a tune that was on my not-so-shortlist, which he very graciously said he’d step aside and let me nominate. However, a better idea, I think is if we jointly suggest this and then both have another go at a snake related tune.

Over to you then, Swede:

“As George so rightly pointed out the Dolby system was developed in part to reduce tape hiss. Another thing that hisses is of course a snake, so let’s have ‘The Snake’ by Al Wilson.”

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Al Wilson – The Snake

Bloody great, that, isn’t it?

Ok, so The Swede’s extra suggestion goes thusly:

“I’ll suggest ‘Snakes and Snakes’ by Bell X1, an old favourite tune of both me and Mrs S.”

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Bell X1 – Snakes and Snakes

Ah. Well that pretty much beats my alternative snake song, which features a snake, the arch nemesis of the titular character, called Hissing Sid:

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Keith Michell – Captain Beaky

Nope, that’s not the worst record of the week either.

Some of you knew that Thomas Dolby was heavily involved in the development of ringtones; Rigid Digit says that he “…invented the Nokia Ring Tone (cue oversized mobile phone a la Trigger Happy TV: “HELLO!, I’m on the Internet. It’s very boring (mostly, but there are some places worth visiting – honest!)”

In case the reference to oversized mobile phones means nothing to you, Rigid refers to this:

..which prompted babylotti to pipe up:

“You’d almost want to go with Mario Piu’s Library there, it samples Dom Joly’s favourite phrase.”

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Mario Piu – Library

Quite an uninspring bit of cover art, that, isn’t it. Let me see if I can find a more appropriate library related picture…

*rummages around*

Ah yes, this seems about right:

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Anyway, where were we? Ringtones, that’s where. And here’s Alex G from We Will Have Salad with, without even the merest shadow of a doubt, the Worst Recod of the Week, by a country mile:

“Thomas Dolby went on to basically invent polyphonic ringtones. I therefore suggest this week’s worst record, ‘Axel F’ by Crazy Frog, on the grounds that it’s Thomas Dolby’s fault. I dimly recall there were some further, possibly even worse, follow-ups, but I think Axel F will suffice to remind us of the evil that Thomas Dolby has visited upon the world. His crimes must never be forgotten.”

It’s alright for you lot, you don’t have to listen to it, like I do when I check the copy I *ahem* aquired is clear and has uploaded okay.

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Crazy Frog – Axel F

I once berated a guy I worked with for having that as his ringtone.

As I mentioned when Alex posted that, the one redeeming feature of that record is, if my memory serves, that it stopped Coldplay from getting their first ever number one single.

Speaking of Coldplay, a suggestion from Charity Chic of Charity Chic Music fame:

“Thomas Dolby had the look of a mad scientist and indeed did ‘She Blinded Me With Science’. So, ‘The Scientist’ please – not the Coldplay original but rather the Willie Nelson cover.  If you can only find the original please don’t bother.”

Always a pleasure to deny Coldplay twice in one post.

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Willie Nelson – The Scientist

“Failing that, E=MC2”, CC adds.

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Big Audio Dynamite – E=MC2

Just two more suggestions to go now; penultimately, back to The Robster:

“The quirky scientist Dr Magnus Pyke guested on another of Thomas Dolby’s hits ‘She Blinded Me With Science’. In his Wikipedia entry, it claims one of the many books he’s written is ‘Tricky and Portishead and Other Stonehead Bristol Sounds of the Future.’ I have seen references of this come up occasionally in other places, but have never actually managed to track down any credible suggestion that such a book even exists. However, it’s a fantastic thought that Dr Pyke would have written such a thing, so I’m also going to suggest some things links with my other suggestion: Tricky’s cover of XTC’s ‘Dear God’.”

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Tricky – Dear God

Which would be where we’d leave it, but one last peek into the pub to see what Jules has been up to leads to something about him being too old to be in a fight, about Donald Trump, an admission that the one suggestion I still don’t follow “…still makes not a lot sense…”, that I should “…ignore previous drunken ramblings…” and most pertinently that “…I needed some Billy Bragg…”

So, as a one off, while I’m not at all sure how this links to the source record, I’ll assume that somewhere there is a link buried deep in Jules inner psyche, play it, and leave it at that. It is rather fine, as relevant today as when Woody Guthrie first penned the lyrics:

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Billy Bragg & Wilco – All You Fascists

Woody Guthrie died in 1967.

And so to the next song in The Official Chain, and once again, once of you was mightily close, getting the right band, the right link, but the wrong song.

Here’s the link:

“…Thomas Dolby produced an album by Prefab Sprout…”

Here’s the song:

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37. Prefab Sprout – Bonny

Here’s some Bonus Points for The Great Gog for proving Meat Loaf right when he sang “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad”.

And here’s a request for your suggestions for songs which link to “Bonny” by Prefab Sprout, along with a brief description of the link, via the Comments Section down below, in time for next Sunday’s edition (by which I mean, by Saturday night, please!)

More soon.

The Chain #32

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

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

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

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

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

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Black Grape – Reverend Black Grape

Over to the Great Gog now:

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

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Public Image Ltd. – Disappointed

“…and the other by Electronic.”

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Electronic – Disappointed (Single Mix)

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

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

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

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Morrissey – Disappointed

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

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

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Bob the Builder – Can We Fix It?

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

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

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

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

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The Sidebottoms – Panic

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

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

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

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 Tricky – Pumpkin

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

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The Smashing Pumpkins – Today

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

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Kate Nash – Pumpkin Soup

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

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

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

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Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – The Curse Of Millhaven

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

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

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The Clash – Wrong ‘Em Boyo

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

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

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

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

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Big Star – The Ballad of el Goodo

Over to Rol of My Top Ten fame next:

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

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Jim’s Big Ego – The Ballad of Barry Allen

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

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

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

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Marianne Faithfull – The Ballad Of Lucy Jordan

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

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Oh, I see.

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

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

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

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Space with Cerys Matthews – The Ballad Of Tom Jones

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

“At #2 was Martin’s Tom Jones.

But #1…

#1 was something really rather special.

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

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Todd Snider – The Ballad of the Kingsmen

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

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

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 The Bloodhound Gang – The Ballad Of Chasey Lain

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

I’m not arguing.

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

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

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

Probably easier if I just post the video, really:

Oh, and the song too:

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New Order – Bizarre Love Triangle

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

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

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Traci Lords – Fallen Angel

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

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

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Manic Street Preachers – Little Baby Nothing

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

Step forwards SWC:

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

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

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Extreme – More Than Words

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

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

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

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Spinal Tap – Stonehenge

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

 

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

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

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Emerson Lake & Palmer – The Gnome

He’s got a point, hasn’t he, readers?

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

Selection number two from Alyson:

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The Art of Noise feat. Duane Eddy – Peter Gunn

Back to George next:

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

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

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

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

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

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Peter and The Test Tube Babies – Banned From the Pubs

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

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

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

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

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Blur – Colin Zeal

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

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

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Bonzo Dog Band – Canyons of Your Mind

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

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

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

You do remember correctly; in fact it goes:

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

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

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The Jesus & Mary Chain – Reverence

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

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

Here’s Alex G again:

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

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The Temptations – Get Ready

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

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

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

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

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Crash Test Dummies – Afternoons & Coffeespoons

Nope still annoying.

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

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

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ABC – Poison Arrow

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

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

Anybody got any Vera’s? Lavely.

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The Shamen – Ebeneezer Goode

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

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E-Zee Possee – Everything Starts With an E

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

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

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

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

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

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EMF – E.M.F. (Live At The Bilson)

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

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

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

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Joey Beltram – Energy Flash

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Go Home Productions – Making Plans For Vinyl

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

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

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

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The Clash – This Is England

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

Here’s George again:

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

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Barrington Levy – Here I Come

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

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

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

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

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The Beach Boys – Gourd Only Knows

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

And just in case you don’t get it:

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

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

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

Nailed it.

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David Cassidy – Daydreamer

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

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

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Bill Barclay – 12 Days of Christmas

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

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

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Andy Partridge – History Of Rock And Roll

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

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

cover_564742611201032. Frank Zappa – Valley Girl

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

See you next week!

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