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!

 

“You ask how much I need you, must I explain?” – Advent day 12 December 12, 2013


5978003639_50e93ae9fbI’m getting just a little bit more excited now it is the 12th of December after all. In keeping with this years With Just A Hint Of Mayhem advent posts I have two diametrically opposed songs for you today. But obviously two that have the number twelve in their titles.

250px-Johnny_NashFirst up is the timeless song “Twelfth Of Never” which was initially recorded by Johnny Mathis in 1957. He apparently didn’t like the song and it was demoted to the B Side of “Chances Are”. The song has been recorded by many, many artists since then. The Mathis version made it to number 9 in the US charts and Donny Osmond took it to number one in the UK and number 8 in the USA in 1973. The list of cover versions is almost endless and includes; Nina Simone, Barry Gibb, Cliff Richard, Tammy Wynette, Chi-Lites, Glen Campbell, Cher, Dolly Parton, Roger Whittaker, Barry Manilow, Andy Williams, Olivia Newton John, Hank Marvin and Jeff Buckley. Jeff’s version can be found on the Legacy edition of ‘Live At The Sin E’ and remains very faithful to the Nina Simone version of the song. The regular readers among you will know that I am a big fan of Texan crooner Johnny Nash. In fact I would go as far as saying that his singing voice is my favourite voice ever. Anyway I haven’t posted about Mr Nash for quite a while so I thought I would use his version of the “Twelfth Of Never” taken from his 1968 album ‘Soul Folk’.

strokesThe second song today flows from the Julian Casablancas post from yesterday. It is “12:51” by the band that Julian is a big part of; the Strokes. The song was written by Mr Casablancas and was the first single released from the bands second album ‘Room On Fire’ in 2003. The song made it to number 7 in the UK and reached the top 40 in Ireland, Canada, the Netherlands and Sweden. The songs original title was “Supernova”. The video for the song was directed by Roman Ford Coppola, the son of Francis Ford Coppola and the cousin of Nicolas Cage. It has a theme that is very reminiscent of the ‘Tron’ the 1982 movie. When the band played a number of Japanese dates to support the release of the ‘Room On Fire’ album in 2003 they included a cover of the Frank Sinatra classic written by Paul Anka “My Way”, only they sang it with Japanese lyrics!

 

“I think I’m done with the kitchen table, baby” April 8, 2009


Welcome back my friends to the blog that never ends…….. well ok it does take the odd sabbatical, anyway enough dithering and on with the show as they say! Well Queen and Leo Sayer say it as they both had hits about the show going on!

Some important news for you to start with, apparently Lady GaGa refuses to have sweaty cheese in her dressing room. Her current rider states that it must be odourless and served on ice. She also requires a whole roasted chicken in her dressing room. Thank you to those nice folks at ‘The Smoking Gun‘ for that information. So did you know that the Lady’s real name is Stefani Germanotta? No? well you do now!

Lady GaGa's Cheesy Rider

Lady GaGa's Cheesy Rider

It’s April 8th and it would have been the 80th birthday of Jacques Brel the Belgian born singer/ songwriter who died of cancer in October 1978. In the English speaking world Brel is better known for the English translations of his songs which many artists have recorded. Including such luminaries as Nina Simone, Scott Walker, Marc Almond, Dusty Springfield, Ray Charles, Frank Sinatra, David Bowie (yep him again!) and Terry Jacks. “Seasons In The Sun” an English translation of a Brel song was recorded by Canadian singer Terry Jacks and was a big hit around the world in 1974.. Bowie recorded Brel’s “Port Of Amsterdam” and often played “My Death” live during the Ziggy days (click the song title to see the Dame doing the song more recently). Marc Almond often played Brel songs live and in 1989 he recorded a whole album of Brel songs called ‘Jacques’. Click here for a very comprehensive list of Brel covers on Wiki

Did he really write "Jumping Jacques Flash"? He's sure got a lot of sole!

Did he really write "Jumping Jacques Flash"? He's sure got a lot of sole!

On this day in 1967 a live soul revue at the Hammersmith Odeon in London included sets by Otis Redding, Sam & Dave, Eddie Floyd, Arthur Conley and Booker T & the MGs. Now that is one fantastic package, it’s just a pity I was only 8 years old at the time. Well that and the fact that my parents preferred country music. So I suppose it could have been worse! Here is Arthur Conley with the classic and still one of my all time favourites and yes it is one of the 50 songs in my Top 10, “Sweet Soul Music

Arthur was well known for his skill in playing the invisible trombone

Arthur was well known for his skill in playing the invisible trombone

Also on this day in 1967 Sandie Shaw became the first UK female artist to win the Eurovision Song Contest with the appalling song “Puppet On A String” She worked at the Ford Motor Plant in Dagenham, Essex, England when she left school. A very high proportion of Dagenham’s working class population worked there too. Unlike many of her contemporaries she also recorded many of her songs in French, German, Italian and Spanish. This clearly helped to popularise her more outside the UK. She also became the first artist to cover a Led Zeppelin song. Here is Sandie with a more recent update of “Puppet On A String” called “Puppet On A Brand New String

Sandie had clearly been selling Mozzer short!

Sandie had clearly been selling Mozzer short or perhaps they were going to a Fancy Dress Party as Tom Cruise and his wife!

On this day in 1994, Gary Smith an electrician who was working at Kurt Cobain’s house in Seattle discovered Kurt’s body lying on the greenhouse floor. A shotgun was found next to the body. Seattle Radio Station KXRX broke the news at 9.40am that morning that the late great Cobain was dead, he was just 27. Conspiracy theories about Cobain’s death still abound, personally I don’t buy them at all, clearly he had considered and attempted suicide before so in some ways his death by his own hand, whilst very, very sad was not too much of a surprise. Cobain was given a guitar for his 14th birthday and soon learnt to play, apparently to covers he mastered early on were “Back In Black” (AC/DC) and “My Best Friends Girl” (The Cars). Here are Nirvana from the rehearsal of their ‘Unplugged’ show with Bowie’s “The Man Who Sold The World“. Nirvana were actually on the bill at the Reading Festival in the UK in August 1991 the same month my son Luke was born. Yes you guessed it here is yet another shameless plug for Luke’s band ‘Steal The Smile‘ They are currently recording an EP. To check out their MySpace page just click on the band name.

Freddy Krueger does grunge horror in 'Nightmare On Nirvana Street'

Freddy Krueger does grunge horror in 'Nightmare On Nirvana Street'

And finally on this day in 1998 George Michael was arrested by an undercover policeman at the Will Rogers Memorial Park in LA for committing a sex act in a public toilet. George Michael was quoted as saying “I was followed into the restroom and this cop, well I didn’t know that he was a cop at the time obviously, started playing a game. I think it’s called ‘I’ll show you mine, you show me yours and then when you show me yours I’m gonna nick you” Michael was later fined $810 and ordered to complete 80 hours community service for committing a lewd act. He later lampooned the arresting officer, Marcelo Rodriguez in the video for “Outside“. the cop later sued George for $10m for his apparent portrayal in the video and the emotional stress it had caused him, he lost the case, in fact it was thrown out by the courts. The UK tabloids had a lot of fun reporting George’s arrest. Whilst I really dislike what the UK tabloid press has become (cheap, nasty, invasive and greed driven) it’s clear that their headline writers do indeed have talent. The main headline from the Sun was ‘ZIP ME UP BEFORE YOU GO GO’

George gets ready to 'Whip It Out Before He Go Go's' he's such a 'Bad Boy' especially if you believe those 'Careless Whispers'

George gets ready to 'Whip It Out Before He Go Go's' he's such a 'Bad Boy' especially if you believe those 'Careless Whispers'

 

“But Abigail Blast you sure are changing fast!” February 21, 2009


Welcome to Saturday people, unless of course you’re reading this later or something, in which case just “Hello, Good Evening and Welcome! (Copyright – David Frost!). In order to try and keep the promise I made yesterday of keeping this post short (although to be fair I failed abysmally on that yesterday) I’ll at least keep the intro short.

So without further ado, let’s get straight into todays birthdays. Firstly February 21st 2009 would have been the 76th birthday of the late great (two days in a row, those l’s & g’s are in danger of overuse) Nina Simone. She died aged 70 in 2003. She was born Eunice Kathleen Waymon in North Carolina in the US. Like many of her generation she began her musical career in church where she made a classical piano recital aged just 10. At one point during her piece her parents were told to move from the front row to allow some white people to sit down. Nina has said that she refused to play until her folks were allowed to retain their front row seats. She has also said that this may have been where the seeds of her civil rights activism were sown. She took the stage name Nina Simone so that her mother, who was a very strict Methodist Minister wouldn’t know where she was playing what she saw as the “Devil’s music” Nina is Spanish for ‘little girl’ and was a nickname a previous boyfriend had given her. Simone came from the French actress Simone Signoret. Here is Nina with a jolly good version of the Beatles “Revolution” with some rather spiffing lyric changes

It was at this point that Nina realised the surprise jumping out of the cake simply wasn't going to work

It was at this point that Nina realised the surprise jumping out of the cake simply wasn't going to work

The second of todays birthdays is that of Vince Welnick who would have been 58 today, but sadly he committed suicide in 2006. Who he? Well he was the keyboard player with the Tubes so that gives me the chance to indulge myself by providing the link to a clip (or two) of that excellent band! He also played with the Grateful Dead after leaving the Tubes in the late 80s. In 1973 they were the opening act on the bill for the New York Dolls, Iggy Pop and also Led Zeppelin. In 1983 they were also the support band on a number of David Bowie’s Serious Moonlight tour gigs, although sadly not at the Milton Keynes show where I saw him on that tour in 1983. Most of the band, although not Mr Welnick, adpoted some great stage names including Fee Waybill, Quay Lewd and Prairie Prince. Strangely enough the first two names were adopted by the lead singer whose real name was in fact John Waldo Waybill, which to me sounds like a made up name anyway! OK so as promised a couple of links of the Tubes in their prime! Firstly with their stab at disco with “Prime Time” followed by the absolutely stone cold classic “White Punks On Dope” from a late 70s edition of the BBC’s ‘Old Grey Whistle Test’. Fraser if you’re reading this, this ones for you mate!

Mr Waybill figured that if he could work out how to lower the mic stand he could wear his comfy flat shoes

Mr Waybill figured that if he could work out how to lower the mic stand he could wear his comfy flat shoes

The third and final birthday for today is that of James Dean Bradfield singer and guitarist with the Manic Street Preachers. In case you were wondering, the James Dean part of his name arose because his Mum was an avid movie fan, he has apparently said on some occasions that it might have been worse had she named him something like Clint Eastwood Bradfield. Presumably Marilyn Monroe Bradfield might have been difficult during his youth as well! The late great (definitely back those ‘ole l’s & g’s)Richey Edwards was a key member of the band up until his disappearance in 1995, providing many of the bands lyrics. His family formally declared him dead late last year. In another twist he also left behind a notebook of lyrics for each of the Manics remaining members and many of these will be used on the bands new album which is due for release later this year. In the meantime enjoy the Richey era Manics with the rather brilliant “Motown Junk” from 1991.

The Manics after the white jeans sale at Primark

The Manics after the white jeans sale at Primark

On this day in 1976 the late great (now they’re just showing off!) Florence Ballard of the Supremes died of cardiac arrest aged just 32. She had left the group in 1967 and lost an $8 million lawsuit with Motown Records. She was living on welfare when she died. In my opinion both Flo Ballard and Mary Wilson were much better singers than Diana Ross. I also doubt that Flo or Mary would have recorded the absolutely abysmal (in my humble opinion of course) “Chain Reaction”! Here are the original Supremes, including Florence Ballard with “Where Did Our Love Go“, definitely not Motown Junk!

The Supremes (left to right) Florence Ballard, Mary Wilson, Diana Ross

The Supremes (left to right) Florence Ballard, Mary Wilson, Diana Ross

On this day in 2001 Robbie Williams was attacked and thrown from the stage during a gig in Stuttgart, Germany after a man managed to climb on stage and push him into the security pit. He was later arrested and taken to a secure psychiatric unit, obviously I mean the pusher and not Robbie, although one does live in hope! Well come on I haven’t said anything bad about Robbie for a few days have I? Just to show I care here’s a video of Mr Williams…………. er falling over on stage in Leeds in 2006!

Robbie was really hoping that swallows didn't eat nuts

Robbie was really hoping that swallows didn't eat nuts

Finally on this day in 2004 Les Gray, the lead singer of Mud, died of throat cancer aged just 57. Mud’s first TV appearance was on BBC TVs ‘Basil Brush Show’ I hope they played “Dyna-mite”……. BOOM BOOM! After they signed to the RAK label in the early 70s and also teamed up with songwriters Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman (who wrote many hits for other acts too, including the Sweet and Suzi Quatro) they had a string of UK hits including three number ones “Tiger Feet”, “Lonely This Christmas” and a acapella cover of Buddy Holly’s “Oh Boy” Click here to listen to a megamix of four of Mud’s 70s hits (Dynamite, Rocket, Tiger Feet and Oh Boy)

"If our biggest hit was Tiger Feet why do we have leopard skin trim on these suits?" asked the Mud boys

"If our biggest hit was Tiger Feet why do we have leopard skin trim on these suits?" asked the Mud boys

OK that’s all for today folks, thanks for reading this far, or indeed reading this stuff at all. See you next time!

 

 
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