With Just A Hint Of Mayhem

Music trivia, useless info, extra added random stuff and the odd rant from me

“We’ll build a glass asylum, with just a hint of mayhem” January 8, 2018


Regular readers of this blog know that I am a big David Bowie fan. This began in July 1972 when I witnessed that now iconic performance of “Starman” on BBC’s Top Of The Pops. I was lucky enough to see him play live ten times from 1976 to 2004 and I still buy every release, and to be fair there have been many since his death nearly two years ago. I recently received the latest in the seven inch vinyl picture disc series, the 40th anniversary release of the “Beauty And The Beast” single. It has a terrific version of “Blackout” on the B Side. Today would have been the Dame’s 71st birthday, I know to many of you that probably sounds old, but it is only 12 years older than me! Obviously like many fans I was saddened by his passing, but I am still somewhat freaked out by the amount of on-line Bowie fans that still speak of their despair at his loss, how they still wake up crying.

But enough of that morbidity, I do still celebrate the birthday of the late David Robert Jones. On a work day that means that I wear my David Bowie cuff links as I did today. I also received a few more David Bowie related books at Christmas, I think I now own around 70 in total. One of those Christmas presents was ‘David Bowie – A Life’ by Dylan Jones. Jones met and interviewed Bowie on many occasions and he uses that material along with old and new interviews with many people who were a part of the world of David Bowie. This includes the Spiders From Mars, Dana Gillespie, Bob Harris, Earl Slick, Mike Garson, Carlos Alomar, Peter Frampton, Nina Simone, Mick Rock, Nick Kent, Charles Shaar Murray, Bebe Buell and Coco Schwab to name just a few. The book is organised chronologically and is incredibly well put together. In my opinion it is beyond doubt the best Bowie biography for many years and easily the best to be published since his demise. It is tasteful and manages to unearth a few things that personally I had never read before; How he had tried to reform the Spiders From Mars in 1978 and how in the US in the early 1970s someone turned up at his hotel sweet and offered him a still warm, dead body to have sex with. In respect of the latter he was apparently visibly shocked and upset and turned the offer down. When he lived in Mustique at a property he used to own there he often referred to one drink from the cocktail menu in Basil’s Bar as a Penis Colada.

This evening I have also dug out the magnificent Alan Yentob documentary ‘Cracked Actor’ from the mid 70s. It is a fascinating portrait of a talented man in a spiral of cocaine addiction and ensuing paranoia. In many ways it is a magnificent insider view of the transition from the Halloween Jack character of the post apocalyptic tales on ‘Diamond Dogs’ into the white soul boy of ‘Young Americans’. If you have never seen it, whether you are a fan or not you should check it out. From just the social history perspective it is truly fascinating. This is a bit of a Bowie ramble I know, but I haven’t done a Bowie post for a while, well apart from the specific one about the song “Andy Warhol” back in December. I don’t really need an excuse to play some Bowie tunes, but a 71st birthday and the impending second anniversary of his death works for me. Let’s celebrate the Dame’s wonderful recordings together, what is your favourite David Bowie song? My top three favourites are currently; “Quicksand”, “Young Americans” and “Lady Grinning Soul“.

As a footnote the eagle eyed readers and bat eared listeners may have sussed out where I took the title of my blog from, go on take a guess!

 

12 Days To Christmas – Day 12 – Father Christmas December 24, 2017


This is it Christmas Eve, day 12 of my 12 days to Christmas series of posts. The final one that brings you famous people from history featured in a song, obviously they have all been real and today is no exception. I bring you the bearded weirdy, the fat bloke in the red coat, yes old saint Nick or as I prefer to call him, Father Christmas. He is real ok, don’t let anyone hear you say otherwise! Father Christmas first appeared in the 17th century and until the Victorian age he was seen as a symbol of adult merry-making and feasting. It was around then that he became the bearer of yuletide gifts, especially to children. Santa Claus is an American traditional name for the Christmas figure. Father Christmas’ coat was depicted as green, brown and even blue. It was a big advertising campaign by Coca Cola in 1931 that switched to the now far more common red robes. As it’s Christmas I won’t be focusing on any particular artist today, but I have selected a diverse set of Father Christmas and Santa Claus songs. Finally I would like to wish all of my readers a very happy Christmas, or happy holiday, or a happy life, whatever floats your boat. Just be happy! If you would like to track Father Christmas’ progress in your area click here.

 

12 Days To Christmas – Day 11 – Grigori Rasputin December 23, 2017


This is the penultimate twelve days to Christmas post for the blog and we are clearly on day 11. Who is the famous character from history that is the subject of today’s song? well it’s the Russian mad, mystic monk known as Grigori Yefimovich Rasputin. He was born in January 1869 into a peasant family in Siberia and was assassinated by a group of disgruntled noblemen in 1916 aged 47 who were a tad unhappy with his close relationship with Tsar Nicholas II. This was not the first time someone had attempted to assassinate Grigori, a peasant woman tried to kill him with a knife in 1914, but he survived after surgery. In the early 1900’s he effectively became the leader of a small, but growing, religious cult. It is alleged that this is how he came to the attention of the Russian Royal Family. The Royals believed that Rasputin had healing powers which he practised on the Tsar. Rasputin’s daughter Maria once worked as a lion tamer in the USA. In one X-Men story Rasputin was revealed to be an ancestor of Russian mutant Colossus.

Mastodon had a song about Rasputin on their ‘Crack The Skye‘ album from 2009. He was also depicted on the cover of albums by Electronic and the Smashing Pumpkins among others. But none of those are the source of todays song, for that we are going back to 1978 with Boney M; a classic, kitsch Euro Disco band. The single “Rasputin” went to number one in the charts in Germany, Austria, Belgium, France and Australia. It made it to number 2 in the UK. I don’t know if it ever made the Russian charts. Bobby Farrell the male member of the Boney M four piece has a strange and coincidental link with Rasputin. Bobby’s death occurred on the anniversary of, and in the same city, St. Petersburg as, the death of the mad monk, albeit 94 years later. German music artist Frank Farian effectively manufactured Boney M after he began to have some success with his own recordings under that name. He put the band together to front his songs. They went on to become mega successful hitting number one in album and singles charts across the world from 1976 to 1979. The song was included on the band’s 1978 album ‘Nightflight To Venus’.

Boney M get festive!

 

12 Days To Christmas – Day 10 – Andy Warhol December 22, 2017


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This is the 12 days to Christmas countdown with a series of twelve posts that I confess are not particularly Christmas related. More an opportunity to fill a stocking with plenty of songs about famous people from history. Today is day 10, so only two more to go after this. Day 10 is the turn of Andy Warhol to be represented in song. His real name was Andrew Warhola and he was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on 6th August 1928. He died in February 1987, wow where did that 30 years go? In the 1950s Warhol worked as a shoe designer and became a very early adopted of the silk screen process for printmaking. Many of his subjects were American icons, either people or things; Campbell’s Soup Can, Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe and the mushroom cloud, which technically is a kind of icon of America right? Andy Warhol was gay but in a 1980 interview he suggested that he was still a virgin. A 52 year old virgin? Wow! Many of you who read this blog may well have some Warhol art in your homes. Do you have a copy of the first Velvet Underground album, or the Rolling Stones ‘Sticky Fingers’? well he designed both of those.

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So on to the Song about this iconic and talented artist and it is actually performed by someone many also see as a talented and iconic artist, David Bowie. Come on you didn’t think I would miss the opportunity for some Bowie did you? The song is “Andy Warhol” from Bowie’s 1971 album ‘Hunky Dory’. Bowie met Warhol a few times, apparently the first time was a strange encounter with not much being said other than Warhol remarking on Bowie’s bright yellow shoes. Later, in 1996 David Bowie played Warhol in the film ‘Basquiat’ using some of the artists clothes and wigs. ‘Hunky Dory’ peaked at number three in the UK album chart in 1972. “Andy Warhol” was never released as a single, only “Changes” and “Life On Mars” were issued a singles from that album. Although the track in question did make it to the B- Side of the 1972 single release of “Changes”. Bowie originally wrote the song for his friend, lover and protege Dana Gillespie. But her version didn’t see the light of day until 1973. Interestingly Mick Ronson played guitar on both versions. There are four versions of the song for you to feast your ears on below.

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Bowie as Warhol

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Warhol with a fir tree, now this is a Christmas post……. right?

 

12 Days To Christmas – Day 9 – Bettie Page December 21, 2017


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Day 9 of our twelve day journey to Christmas 2017 and thank you for sticking with this largely non-Christmassy post. Anyway today’s famous person in a song is none other than one of the sexiest, smartest, sassiest and finest photo models there has ever been, Bettie Page! Born Bettie Mae Page in Nashville in 1923, Bettie left this world just over nine years ago aged 85. She made her way to New York via California to become an actress.

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Something Christmassy for my readers 🙂

But she became a pin-up model and in 1955 as Miss January she became one of Playboy magazine’s first Playmate Of The Month. She posed for many photographers during the 1950s until in 1959 she converted to Evangelical Christianity and worked for Billy Graham. She spent many years of her adult life in a psychiatric hospital suffering from paranoid schizophrenia. Minor planet 184784 is named after her and the luxury droid in  ‘Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith’ from 2005 was inspired by her.

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But the song for today has nothing today with Star Wars, but it does come from a true punk star. It is Public Image Limited with the song “Bettie Page” taken from their 2015 album ‘What The World Needs Now….’. This was the tenth studio album released by John Lydon’s Public Image Limited a.k.a. PiL. It reached number 29 in the UK album chart, the band’s highest placing since ‘Album’ in 1986. Sadly, in my opinion, it was never released as a single, but I still love it, I hope that you do too! Incidentally the latest rumour is that Lydon may be representing Ireland in next years Eurovision Song Contest!

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More Christmas Bettie

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Have a Rotten Christmas!

 

12 Days To Christmas – Day 8 – Joan Of Arc December 20, 2017


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The 20th of December? Wow where has the time gone? It is now day 8 of my 12 days to Christmas blog posts. Today’s historical person who features in a pop song is that lovable scamp, Martyr and holy virgin Joan of Arc. She was born in 1412 and died in 1431 aged just nineteen. She is a national hero in France and was canonised as a saint by the Roman Catholic Church. She led a degree of relief effort toward the end of the 100 Years War. She was captured by Burgundian pro English forces and after a trial, was sentenced to be burned at the stake. She is also known as the Maid Of Orleans.

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There are many songs which are about or at least mention Joan of Arc. One of my favourites is the Smiths “Bigmouth Strikes Again” for the lyric, “Now I know how Joan of Arc felt, As the flames rose to her Roman nose, And her Walkman started to melt”. But that is not the song that I will be sharing today. In fact I am sharing two by a Liverpool band with a massive name. Yes it is Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark (well that is a massively long name isn’t it?), nowadays they are more likely to be known as OMD.  The band featured two songs about Joan Of Arc on their 1981 UK top 5 album ‘Architecture And Morality’. Both were released as singles; “Joan Of Arc” reached number 5 in the UK charts in 1981 and in the following year “Maid of Orleans (The Waltz Joan of Arc)” made it to number 4. The latter was also a number one hit in Germany and the Netherlands. “Maid of Orleans (The Waltz Joan of Arc)” was also played of the closing credits of the final episode of the second series of the rather excellent BBC TV series ‘Ashes To Ashes’.

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12 Days To Christmas – Day 7 – Richard Nixon December 19, 2017


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Wow here we are already at day 7 of my 12 days to Christmas posts. Today the famous person in a song is ‘ole Tricky Dicky himself, Richard Nixon. Todays post features the Manic Street Preachers with “The Love Of Richard Nixon” a number 2 hit for the band in 2004 in the UK. They had four UK number 2 chart hits in total, the others were “A Design For Life” (1996), “Empty Souls” (2005) and “Your Love Alone Is Not Enough” (2007). They did hit the top of the chart twice though, with “If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next” in 1998 and “The Masses Against The Classes” in 2000. According to the Manics themselves the song is “a soundtrack to disillusion, hatred, love and never giving up”. It gives a degree of credit to Nixon as it outlines some of the more positive aspects of his Presidency.

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Richard Milhous Nixon was born in January 1913 and died in April 1994. He was the 36th US Vice President from 1953 to 1961 and then the 37th US President from 1969 to 1974. He became the only US President so far to resign from office. That was in August 1974 following the fall out from the Watergate scandal. Will Donald Trump become the second US President to resign? Let’s hope so! Up to now only two Presidents have ever been successfully impeached by the House Of Representatives; Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton, however both were acquitted by the Senate. The impeachment proceedings against Nixon were never completed because of his resignation. Although Nixon was disgraced by the whole Watergate affair he was later pardoned in September 1974 by Gerald Ford who succeeded him.

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