December 11th, what a kinky day this is going to be. It is day 11 in this years advent calendar blog post series which regular readers will know is the ABC of British bands. The 11th letter of the alphabet is ‘K’ so todays band is the Kinks and that is why it is a Kinky day!
Brothers Ray and Dave Davies along with friend Pete Quaife formed the band in Muswell Hill, London in 1963. In spite of the sometimes acrimonious relationship between the Davies brothers the band kept going for more than 30 years before finally calling it a day in 1996. The band had their first UK chart hit in 1964 with “You Really Got Me” which went to number one. This song is often credited with being the first heavy metal riff. (Although the phrase ‘heavy metal’ was allegedly first heard a few years later in the lyrics of Steppenwolf’s “Born To Be Wild”). The Kinks had two further UK number one singles; “Tired Of Waiting” in 1965 and “Sunny Afternoon” in 1966. They also climbed to the top of the singles charts in Germany, Canada, Netherlands, Belgium and New Zealand. I can only assume that the band were a little too English for the Americans. Their first US singles chart hit came in 1981.
Ray and Dave Davies were the 7th and 8th children in their family, the first six were all girls. Their sister Rene died on Ray’s 13th birthday. She had given him his first guitar as a present that day. The band took their name after hearing the word kinky used in British 1960s TV show ‘The Avengers’. Pete Townshend off of the Who once said that Ray Davies was his favourite songwriter of all time. Whilst Marianne Faithfull said that Ray was ‘Very Gothic, creepy and silent. Uptight and fearful of everyone’. Either way I am definitely a fan of the Kinks and I would like you to take some time out to enjoy a selection of their best songs.
I finally got to see the Who play live on Tuesday 2nd December 2014 at the First Direct Arena in Leeds. I have always been a little reluctant to see them given that two key members; John Entwistle and Keith Moon are no longer with us. But my good friend John Williams convinced me to go by describing the band as one of the greatest bands to see before they die! The Standard Lamps filled the support slot very well. Clearly an accomplished band that sound retro with touches of perhaps the Jam and Ocean Colour Scene.
The Who started as they clearly meant to go on with “I Can’t Explain” followed by “Substitute”. This was a set list overloaded with Who classics including many of my favourites; “Won’t Get Fooled Again”, “Behind Blue Eyes”, “Pinball Wizard”, “Magic Bus”, “Who Are You” and “Baba O’Riley”. For me the peak was “5:15” which is my favourite ever Who song from 1973’s classic album ‘Quadrophenia’. There were even outings for the somewhat underplayed “Join Together” and “Squeeze Box” among many, many more.
There was an amazing film clip of John Entwistle’s magnificent bass playing and film and vocals of Keith Moon’s “Bell Boy” again from ‘Quadrophenia’. There was even time for a live rendition of the mini rock opera “A Quick One While He’s Away“. The band was on stage for well over two hours and the band very ably supported Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend. For me the stand out players were Pino Palladino on bass and Zak Starkey who was truly magnificent on drums.
Daltrey was having a few problems with his ear monitors. I don’t know if that resulted in the lack of an encore or whether one wasn’t planned. So we had no “My Generation”. But that really made no difference to what was an amazing show. I am certainly glad that I went.
Please note that none of the pictures or video used in this blog was taken by me.
Unfortunately I was unable to attend last years Apollo Festival so I was quite excited about this one. On another unfortunate note for various reasons I ended up having to miss the set from Reverend and the Makers who headlined the day. But I did get to see absolutely loads of great music and I do hope to be back next year. This time for the full day!
I spent the day with my wonderful wife Catherine (regular readers will know her as Catwoman and our good friends Caron and John and their beautiful daughter Amelia. Catwoman and me are Odd parents to Amelia. the first stage we visited was the Access To Music Stage. Ruby was playing when we arrived, she looked very young, but she was also very, very good. Her own material had some very mature lyrics for someone so young and she even made an Olly Murs song sound good when she covered “Troublemaker”. We stayed in place to see the next act; Laura. Does nobody bother with surnames any more? Laura has an excellent voice and some great songs of her own. She also played two well-chosen and extremely well done covers. The first was the Beatles “Blackbird” and she finished her set with a storming acoustic cover of the Gnarls Barkley modern classic “Crazy”.
We wandered over to the Main Stage next where we saw We Could Be Astronauts last song. It was a pity that we weren’t able to see more because these guys sound bloody good! Redstar from Huddersfield were next and it would be difficult to find any fault with this superb band. Their playing is on the button and really tight. The vocalist has all the traits of a great front man and he backs that up with a great rock voice. Their songs are pretty damned good too. I reckon there may be some Kasabianesque influences in there and they made me think of what Beady Eye could have been had Liam retained any talent. But that is small stuff, they are very much their own band. The free CD album they handed out to us punters is brilliant and has been on heavy rotation in my car since the show. Chris Helme former singer of John Squire‘s first post Stone Roses project the Seahorses was next. he is clearly a talented bloke with a good voice but I found him a little dull.
It was back to the Access To Music Stage next where we saw the fabulous Barcode Zebra. probably the funkiest band of the day. A truly stupendous rhythm section and a vocalist for whom a description of awesome might not be quite enough. They are playing in York at a launch of their new EP in July and sadly I will be away that weekend. I would definitely pay to see this band again. also if you’re reading this good people of Barcode Zebra I would love to do an interview with you for this blog!
The Entertainment Co Stage was our next port of call where we found it impossible not to dance and sing along to the curators of that stage; The Entertainment Company! They don’t just play cover versions they own them! Are they the best party band ever? Very probably! shall we book them for Catwoman’s 50th birthday party (yes she doesn’t look even close to 50 does she)? I hope they do private party bookings because I’d love them to play for us in September 2016!
After that it was a return to the Main Stage where we saw the Black Delta Movement. We didn’t catch their whole set but they come across as very accomplished rockers with a swampy blues rock feel. Not bad at all. Former Bluetones frontman the ‘Legendary’ Mark Morriss was on next with a rather brilliant acoustic set. He is wonderfully self-deprecating and even his new songs have an air of classics about them.
Next it was a quick jog back to the Entertainment Co Stage where we were hoping to see the highly recommended And The Hangnails (thank you Mr Pattinson). before they took to the stage those wonderful people from the Entertainment Company had allowed a young singer from LA to play a few songs. His name is Ben Caron and he is soulful and funky. A bit like Bruno Mars but with more of an R & B edge. He has a truly great voice with which he wowed the all too small crowd. I bought his album, a steal at £7 and he struck me as a really good bloke too. You really should check him out. And The Hangails came on the stage and it is fair to say that for just two people they make a massive noise. I don’t mean that in a negative way either, this pair know how to rock. I sensed some influence from the likes of the White Stripes, the Black Keys and the Strokes. Would I pay to see this mighty duo again? Hell yeah!
Target By Numbers were next on the Access To Music Stage. Good musicians and some ok songs, but they really didn’t do it for me. The last band we saw on the day was the Supermodels on the Main Stage. They are a covers band, but to simply say that really doesn’t do them justice. They cover some classic rock songs with such verve and talent that you could almost imagine you were listening to the real thing if your eyes were shut. Their cover of the Who’s “Baba O’Riley” would give Daltrey and Townshend a run for their money. I really want to see them play again. Sadly we had to leave just before the Supermodels left the stage. But although we missed the headliners we had a fantastic day! well done to the organisers and for all the money raised for an excellent cause; the Smiley Riley Fund!
So the London 2012 Olympics is over, at least until the Paralympics anyway. I truly believe that this has been an amazing Olympics and for me usurps England winning the 1966 football world cup as our greatest sporting achievement. What do you think? OK I know the Scots won’t agree with that in the first place, but I would still like to hear your thoughts.
I realise that this post comes some 24 hours after the closing ceremony, but given the musical nature of that ceremony I felt I had to post something. The Olympic stadium was once again amazing; decked out to show a London skyline that included the London Eye, Big Ben and the Gherkin to name but a few. It all kicked off with the delicious voice of Emilie Sande accompanied only by a pianist, who was playing a piano covered in newspaper. After that the tempo really took off with forty members of the cast of Stomp dancing, drumming and percussing (is that a word?) on the recreated mini London Eye in the stadium. On top of all this there was a choir singing Beatles songs.
Next up was cellist and Churchill appearing out of the top of Big Ben and reciting words from Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest’ which was a great link back to the superb Opening ceremony. Obviously it wasn’t really Churchill, it was Timothy Spall. This was followed by newspaper clad crowds depicting the hubbub of London. The whole thing then slowed a little for the arrival of the VIPs; Jacques Rogge (President of the IOC) who seems to make even the dullest accountant I have ever met seem exciting and prince Harry representing the Royal family. Clearly he was never going to match his grandmother’s arrival at the opening ceremony! Obviously this was followed by our rather uninspiring, in my opinion, national anthem.
The whole show was a celebration of Britain and the next vignette was real class. It was the 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 countdown by Michael Caine from the ‘Italian Job’ and then the iconic three-wheeled van of Trotter’s Independent Trading blew apart and out jumped, yes you guessed it, Del Boy and Rodney in their Batman and Robin costumes. A sublime moment and a nod to one of Britain’s greatest ever comedy shows; Only Fools And Horses.
The mood then turned very much to party as madness were driven around the arena playing “Our House” from the back of a truck. This tempo was kept up by the Massed Guards Bands with a wonderful rendition of Blur’s “Parklife”. Just when you thought it couldn’t get better the stadium was filled with cyclists wearing the most amazing geometric and fluorescent hats. Two of them on tricycles which had Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe as passengers. So we were treated to a fabulous version of “West Ends Girls” on bicycles and tricycles. Could this happen anywhere but the UK? I doubt it!
One Direction were next, like Madness they were on the back of a truck, which sadly wasn’t headed to the tip. OK I have to begrudgingly admit they were at least in tune, but I still don’t like them. Interestingly they were one of just a few acts whose name was flashed onto the screen when they appeared. After that it was back to another great number from the cast of Stomp. That percussion sounded like “Spice Up Your Life” to me. was that deliberate? Who knows? An incredibly talented dance troupe who I think were called Spelbound were next to take the stage. They performed a great routine to the Beatles Sergeant Pepper classic “A Day In The Life”
To keep up the 60s vibe Kinksmeister Ray Davies came on to sing his timeless and classic love song to London; “Waterloo Sunset”. eliciting some great ‘sha la la-ing’ from the audience in the process. Emilie Sande made a return next, minus the newspaper piano and sang over a film montage of some of London 2012’s most tearful moments. The three hundred or so flag bearers entered the arena after that, including super sailor Ben Ainslie fo Britain. Elbow soundtracked this whole piece with a great little set that included the beautiful “Open Arms”. The athletes followed the arrival of the flag bearers and they were corralled into the sections of the union jack which formed the floor of the stadium. Apparently this version of the flag was designed by Damien Hirst. Indian drummers then accompanied the construction of a large structure made up of more than three hundred white boxes. One to represent each Olympic event. The backing track to this was Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill”. I had momentary butterflies while wishing and hoping that Kate might actually appear herself. But alas she didn’t.
Apparently one of the traditions of the closing ceremony is that it contains the last medal presentation. It is for the Mens Marathon which took place earlier in the day and was won by Stephen Kiprotich of Uganda. This was followed by a thank you and recognition for all the volunteers, or Games makers as they were known from all the athletes. This was followed by a spectacular light show to the unmistakable sound of Queen’s mighty “Bohemian Rhapsody” followed by a children’s signing choir singing John Lennon’s “Imagine”. This segued into a film clip of Lennon singing the song himself. Apparently Yoko Ono commissioned a special remaster of the song for the ceremony. At the same time a 3D image of John Lennon’s face was built on stage. This was a prelude to the main musical events.
George Michael took to the stage for his first live performance since his life threatening illness he sang “Freedom 90” his new single “White Light” which is in fact all about his brush with death. He seemed fit and well and on really good form. I’m not sure I like the new facial hair style though, perhaps it will grow on me! Ricky off of the Kaiser Chiefs was driven to the stage as a scooter pillion passenger singing “Pinball Wizard”. I have gone off the Kaisers of late, by I must admit they did a storming version of the Who’s classic. The next part had me positively tingling with anticipation; A series of short film and audio clips of David Bowie. Would he actually appear? Surely not? And surely he didn’t. But his 1980 hit “Fashion” was used as a backdrop to a showcase of British fashion which included a weird march around the stadium from a series of models including Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss.
George couldn’t master Mo Farah’s Mobot so he invented the Georgebot
A huge skeleton of what might have been a viking boat was pulled on stage and the hidden figurehead was none other than Annie Lennox. She performed “Little Bird” which was used on the soundtrack of Coppola’s film version of Bram Stoker’s classic story Dracula. The much rumoured Pink Floyd appearance turned out to be nothing more than Ed Sheerhan, Nick Mason and Mike Rutherford doing the Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here” accompanied by a tightrope walker who recreated the Floyd album cover with the flaming man.
Russell Brand arrived on stage in what looked like the Scooby Doo van and he was singing, he’s not a bad singer either. He got out of the van to perform the Beatles’ “I Am The Walrus”. The van begat a giant inflatable octopus from which Fatboy Slim did a brief DJ set featuring his own hits “Right Here Right Now” and “Rockerfeller Skank”. Jessie J then sang “Price Tag” in an open top car she was joined by Tinie Tempah then Taio Cruz with “Dynamite”. All in open top cars. Then all three of them took the stage for a creditable performance of the Bee Gees disco classic “You Should Be Dancing”. As they were performing in front of a drum kit marked up with the name of Beady Eye it was obvious who was going to be on later!
A group of London Black cabs entered stadium and performed a kind of synchronised dance. Then five of them moved to the centre of the arena and were lit up with some spectacular lighting arrays. This wasn’t the best kept secret of the show, but guess who the passengers in these five cabs were? Yes it was Scary, Sporty, Baby, Ginger and Pouty…. oops sorry I mean Posh. It was the return of the Spice Girl. They kicked off with possibly one of the greatest pop singles of the 90s (OK that doesn’t mean you have to like it); “Wannabe”. They followed this with the samba rhythmed “Spice Up Your Life” which they performed while being driven around the stadium atop the cabs that brought them in. As expected after seeing their drum kit earlier Beady Eye were next. Thankfully they didn’t play any of their own stuff, just a cover of “Wonderwall” which seemed to go down really well as a sing along with the crowd. Liam seemed quite nervous to me and is his voice a little rough these days?
ELO’s “Mr Blue Sky” was played as a backdrop for a section pioneering flight. This included flying bikes and a failed human cannonball who just happened to be Monty Python star Eric Idle who led the audience in a marvellous sing-alonga-python version of “Always look On The Bright Side Of Life”. he even made a great comedic attempt to join in with some Bollywood style dancing. This whole piece was perhaps the equivalent of the Mr Bean set in the opening ceremony. It ended with the real and successful firing of a human cannonball.
Matt Bellamy and the boys from Muse were the next to appear and they performed their song “Survival” which was commissioned for the Olympics. It’s good and their performance was excellent as usual but this is a long way from being my favourite Muse song. Interestingly, as some have likened Muse to Queen they were followed by a film clip of Freddie Mercury performing some improv jazz scat and despite being dead for more than twenty years the audience were enraptured and joined in the whole Freddie call and response thing. This proved to be the overture to Brian May’s appearance and it’s fair to say that he’s quite a good guitarist isn’t he? 😉 As the unmistakable riff to “We Will Rock You” began and Brian was joined by Roger Taylor I was briefly worried that Adam Lambert or someone similar might step onto the stage. Thankfully it was Jessie J, and inspired choice in my opinion. She did a great vocal on the song which never tried to emulate the late, great Mr Mercury.
It was then time to return to the formal activities which meant the Greek national anthem followed by a Welsh Male Choir version of the Olympic Anthem. This was sealed with the Brazilian national anthem and a formal handing over of the Olympic flag from London’s Mayor Boris Johnson to the Mayor of Rio De Janeiro via Jacques Rogge. The Brazilians then put on a samba fuelled show to let the world know what to expect in 2016. This culminated in an appearance by one of their greatest sports ambassadors; Pele. Then we had more formal stuff with speeches from Seb Coe and Jacques Rogge. Seb was quite inspiring Jacque was once again the definition of dull in my opinion. The remaining action was the extinguishing of the flame. This began with Take That (thankfully without Robbie) performing the appropriate “Rule The World”. It continued with Darcy Bussell flying in as a Phoenix to join two hundred other ballet dances for an exciting modern ballet.
The petals of the cauldron where the Olympic flame burned were then lowered and were slowly extinguished and at this point I thought that was the end. However there was more to come in the shape of the Who. They were on top form and for a pensioner Roger Daltrey’s vocal power is still damned good. They closed with a rousing version of “My Generation” accompanied by yet another magnificent firework display.
I fell a little deflated after such a brilliant two weeks but so very proud to be British. I truly believe that we really showed the world what we are capable of as a country. Not just in the Olympic events but by how we put on such a brilliant event in itself. In spite of the little hiccups before the start (G4S etc) we really delivered this in style and won a whole treasure box of medals too. So let me take this opportunity to congratulate and thank everyone in Team GB, the organisers, all the other competitors, the BBC, the volunteers/ Games Makers and anyone else who was involved in this remarkable event.
Was this the best Olympics ever? I believe it as. Rio follow that!
Most of the film clips from the ceremony are IOC copyright and therefore difficult to show. So here are two songs that sum things up in a simple way.
I am sure that by now many of you are aware of the plight of Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Mariya Alekhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich from the Russian punk band Pussy Riot. The three women are now on trial in Russia on charges of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred or hostility. In effect what they did back in February this year was to perform an anti Putin song (a one minute punk prayer) in Moscow’sChrist the Saviour Cathedral a Russian Orthodox church. I suspect that the underlying charge is that they simply pissed off Vladimir Putin, who clearly has an ego the size of a small planet. His behaviour in my opinion makes it seem that glasnost never existed.
One of the many things I love about being a Brit is my right to exercise free speech, which is really all Pussy Riot were doing. Clearly free speech doesn’t exist for Putin, unless it’s him speaking! A group of western rock musicians have written to the Times this week to ask Putin to make sure that the three members of Pussy Riot get a fair trial. they could face up to seven years in jail for their ‘so called’ offence.
I would like to take this opportunity to applaud all the signatories of the letter who include; Jarvis Cocker, Pete Townshend, Martha Wainwright, Neil Tennant (off of the Pet Shop Boys) former Smith Johnny Marr, Kate Nash, Corinne Bailey Rae, Alex Kapronos (off of Franz Ferdinand), Cornershop and The Joy Formidable. I urge you to write to the press, your politicians and Putin himself to protest against this travesty of justice. Alternatively pop along to the nearest Russian Embassy and play your collection of Sham 69, Angelic Upstarts and Bikini Kill tunes at maximum volume until they see sense. Why those three artists? well Pussy Riot have referred to them as some of their many influences.
In a Levada poll 43% of Russians said that they thought the potential punishments wer far too harsh whilst only 17% said that the punishments fit the crimes. I presume that means that 40% are either too stupid or too scared to have an opinion or they are related to Putin. How can you trust a man who clearly plays the system in any way he can to make sure he stays in charge indefinitely. On top of that he has allegedly had Botox injections to keep his ‘youthful’ appearance along with his unappealing habit of stripping to the waist to show how masculine he is! The old story of the Emperor’s New Clothes springs to mind here!
Maybe he needs to get Pussy Riot to record his entry music
In a rough translation of their one minute punk prayer Pussy Riot apparently said something like’ pray to the mother of god to chase Putin out’ . They also allegedly changed the words to a christian hymn from ‘holy, holy, holy, Lord God’ to ‘ shit, shit, shit of Lord God’ So I say to Mr Putin ‘Svobodu Pussy Riot’, embrace the modern world, promote freedom honestly, stop being a bully and do it now! Otherwise I believe you will be chased out, probably not by the mother of god but certainly by the majority of the Russian people!
It is with great sadness that I must convey the news of the passing of the Lord Of Loud, Jim Marshall creator of the guitar amp of choice for rock gods and guitar icons. Acton born James Charles Marshall had been a singer and drummer during the war years as his health kept him out of the armed forces. I would go so far as to say that he was one of the most influential Englishmen in the history of rock.
In his drumming and singing days he had built an amplifier that enabled his vocals to be heard above his drums. Later, from around 1960 he opened a music store in Hanwell, West London. The shop initially sold drums and then he expanded his stock to guitars. Ritchie Blackmore and Pete Townshend were among his early customers, both were seeking a much bigger amplifier that would enable them to significantly crank up the volume on their instruments. That is when Marshall had the idea for what became probably the most famous and iconic brand of amplifiers in music. Marshall Amplification was born in 1962.
A random selection of news for you in this post dear readers. In a follow-up to one of my earlier posts about a number of music stars playing some very rich gigs at private parties for the Gaddafi family it has been reported that Nelly Furtado will be given the money she by playing for the Gaddafi’s in 2007 to charity. Top marks to Nelly in my opinion. Click here to read the story.
It was announced recently that the 100 Club has a saviour so it won’t have to close. That saviour, who is now the venues sponsor is Converse. Personally I think that is a great move, I have possessed a pair of Converse All Stars for most of the last thirty or so years. As a teenager I went through a white pair, a blue pair and a red pair. I have now settled on a very safe black pair, which I replace annually. I feel I’m in good company as the All Star was worn by such luminaries as Kurt Cobain and the Ramones.
Lady Gaga meets and eats Baby Gaga
I recently discovered a great clip collection of 101 bad covers of Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance“. Click here to see it. In other Gaga news a London company has started to produce ice cream made from human breast milk. Click here to read the story. It has been named Baby Gaga. How many of you Little Britain fans just said or thought ‘bitty’?
Syd's psychedelic Baby Gaga 99 with flake caused his feet to grow incredibly large
Just how big a fan of Syd Barrett are you? Big enough to own the Syd Barrett Colouring Book perhaps? Well they are already extremely rare along with the first in the series which was the Joy Division Colouring Book. Click here to see the Syd book.
First a haunting, now levitation. What next? Exorcist style head spinning and green vomit?
Apparently Pete Townshend off of the Who has had a ghostly visit comparable with Dickens ghosts in ‘A Christmas Carol’. He claims that Les Paul appeared to him in a hotel recently telling him to rethink his guitar smashing which showed he had no respect for the instrument. The ghost of Les told him that if he didn’t do this he would suffer for the remainder of his life. Click here to read the story.
I chanced upon an amazing video the other day. It shows the two guys who make up the maintenance crew for a 1,786 foot radio antenna. If your scared of heights then you might not want to watch it. I can take any height as long as there is a good barrier between me and the drop, this tower doesn’t have that. Much of it is free climb and you have to take your toolbox which weighs 30 pounds with you. Frankly, and I apologise for being a bit crude here, but I could feel my testicles contracting with every step the guy took! I reckon I can live with any problems with public transport on my daily commute, because even the UK rail system is safer and more comfortable than these tower guys!
To be fair though, Batman and Robin always climbed without a safety rope too!
Like I’ve said so many times before this is a music blog, so I couldn’t finish without leaving you with a few very loosely related songs
“Stairway To Heaven” – Rolf Harris – The obvious choice would have been the Led Zep original, but that gets played quite a lot and Rolf’s version really is good fun don’t you think?
“Up The Ladder To The Roof” – Supremes- This song was written by Frank Wilson and Vincent DiMirco. It was the first Supremes single to feature new girl Jean Terrell who replaced Diana Ross. Personally I always thought Diana was the weakest vocalist in the group anyway. It reached the top 10 in the US and the UK. This video is worth watching for the costumes and dance moves even if you don’t like the song! I used to have this on 7 inch vinyl American import and I played it to death, even the B Side which was an ego boost for a young lad, as I was at the time. It was called “Bill, When Are You Coming Back”
Is it that time again already? Wow here we are on 12th March just a few days away from those nasty old Ides Of March. More of the Ides in a later post….. if I can be bothered, but either way just beware of them ok? Before we get down to business the regular readers among you may recall that the last time this blog included a fart clip the viewing figures went sky high, so here’s another one! This is a fart that disrupts a Council Meeting in the US. Click here to see it and I dare you, no I double dare you not to laugh!
So onto todays delights of which there are six; three birthdays and three ‘onthisdays’
Today would have been the 92nd birthday of Leonard Chess the founder of Chess Records. The label was home to some fantastic artists including John Lee Hooker, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley and Jimmy Reed. Mr Chess checked out of this mortal coil of a heart attack aged just 52 in 1969. Strangely enough I won a set of eight Chess compilation albums (these were those big 12 inch plastic things we called LPs back in the day) in around 1975. I think the series was called ‘Chess Golden Decades’ or something like that. It was from a competition in the late great (hey the l’s & g’s get an outing for a publication and not a person!) Record Mirror. The winner was the person who came up with the longest list of song titles that featured colours (“Little Red Rooster”, “Tie A Yellow Ribbon” you get the idea. Remember this was way before the internet was even a twinkle in a geeks eye. My winning list comprised of more than 400 titles which was more than double the person in second place. Now that just goes to prove that I have always been a sad anorak doesn’t it? OK not exactly a Chess classic but I couldn’t resist including Chuck Berry’s only UK number one, from 1972 it’s “My Ding A Ling”
Chuck's need to pee wasn't going to stop him finishing the song. He just crossed his legs and held on to his ding a ling!
Anyway back to Mr Chess, he was born in a part of Poland that is now in fact in Belarus. He was originally called Lejzor Czyz and his family changed his name when they arrived in the US in 1928. I guess that’s a good thing really, I mean do you really think Czyz Records would have had the same impact? The label was based in Chicago and many non Chess acts also recorded at their studios, including the Rolling Stones. The Stones immortalised the Chess address with an instrumental track called “2120 South Michigan” in the mid 60’s. Maurice White who was once a session drummer at Chess Studios eventually went on to form the magnificent Earth Wind And Fire. A band I saw live at Wembley in 1979 😉 So to make up for the earlier inclusion of “My Ding A Ling” here is John Lee Hooker with “Boom Boom”
The classic Chess Records label
Today is also the 40th birthday of one of my all time favourite guitarists, Mr Graham Coxon who will be treading the boards as part of a reformed Blur this year. Coxon played on all of Blur’s albums up to and including 1999’s ’13’. He also designed the cover for ’13’. He only featured on one track for the following album ‘Think Tank’ after a big fall out with the rest of the band, although clearly they seem pretty much reconciled now after he appeared at this years Brits to sing a version of “This Is A Low” with Damon Albarn. Graham has also been quite a prolific solo artist having released 6 albums under his own name, three of those while still with Blur. I have seen Blur twice once with Coxon and once without I definitely think they are much better with Graham in the fold. Here is Mr Coxon with the excellent “Freakin’ Out”
Axe Hero or Fashion Victim - you choose!
Finally on the birthdays front today is the 30th birthday of someone once famously described as a ‘rock n roll fuckwit’ by Pete Townshend. Who? Why it’s Mr Pete Doherty of course. He of Libertines, Babyshambles and now solo musical fame and a fair amount of infamy too. As in ‘infamy, infamy, they’ve all got it infamy’ So many tabloid inches have been covered with celebrity prattle about Pete so I won’t dwell on that. But in my opinion he is a great songwriter, I loved the Libertines and also Babyshambles too. I am definitely looking forward to his solo album. To return to something that was covered in a previous post, that something being Janie Jones. Pete featured on a charity cover of the Clash song “Janie Jones” in 2006. Other contributors were Dirty Pretty Things, We Are Scientists, Kooks and the Holloways. The song was recorded to raised funds for ‘Strummerville’ which is a foundation for new music set up shortly after Joe Strummer’s untimely death. here is Pete with Babyshambles doing the excellent “Albion” on the BBCs ‘Later With Jools Holland’
Pete often wondered why Kate had to look so hard faced when he asked her to dress up in her police woman's uniform
On this day in 1981 in another monumental piece of hype from Talcy Malcy himself (that’ll be Malcolm McLaren then) Bow Wow Wow were forced to cancel the first dates of a UK tour. The reason for the cancellation was that singer Annabella Lwin aged just 15 would have been guilty of truancy according to the Greater London Council. Incidentally McLaren was the bands manager. Bow Wow Wow were formed after Malcolm began to manage the original Adam And The Ants. He sacked Mr Ant and then brought in Annabella Lwin as the singer. Adam was quite adamant (and Adam Ant) that it did him no harm in the long run though. Lwin’s birth name was Myint Myint Aye, which apparently means High High Cool in Burmese, personally I would have used that as my stage name! here they are with a live rendition of “C30, C60, C90, Go“. Note the Adams & the Ants style Burundi drum beat.
Annabella wondered what on earth she was going to do now that the bands clothing budget had run out!
On this day in 1988 the phenomenally talented (according to some, but not me) Rick Astley was number one in the US singles chart with “Never Gonna Give You Up” . The song was also a UK number one. Following something of an internet phenomenon last year with what became known as ‘RickRolling’ he found himself voted the ‘Best Act Ever’ at the MTV Europe Music Awards. Well I suppose even that is better than a win for Robbie W (give me a break I haven’t had a dig at for ages have I?) Anyway ‘Rickrolling’ was a means of sending someone the link to a Rick video by stealth. This led to around 30 million views of Rick videos and presumably 30 million people needing therapy have been a victim of ‘Rickrolling’ The song also gave writers and producers Stock, Aitken and Waterman their fourth UK number one when it topped the UK charts in 1987. They had previously hit the top slot with Dead Or Alive, Mel & Kim and Ferry Aid. OK prepare to be Rickrolled and I promise I’ll be gentle, here is Rick with “Never Gonna Give You Up”
oh come on you weren't hoping for a Rick pic were you?
And finally on this day in 2001 Judy Garland’s “Over The Rainbow” was voted the ‘Song Of The Century’ in a poll published in the US. The poll was produced by the R.I.A.A and was compiled from input by musicians, critics and fans. The highest placed UK act was the Rolling Stones with “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”. The Beatles reached number 28 with “I Want To Hold Your Hand”. The top ten was;
1. “Over the Rainbow,” Judy Garland
2. “White Christmas,” Bing Crosby
3. “This Land Is Your Land,” Woody Guthrie
4. “Respect,” Aretha Franklin
5. “American Pie,” Don McLean
6. “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy,” Andrews Sisters
7. “West Side Story” (album), original Broadway cast
8. “Take Me out to the Ball Game,” Billy Murray
9. “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’,” Righteous Brothers
10. “The Entertainer,” Scott Joplin
I must say I’m somewhat surprised that the West Side Story soundtrack album made it into the top ten songs of the century, I mean it’s a whole bloody album! If you want to see the whole list just click here.
Hello dear readers and welcome to the 11th March, coming up there’ll be one birthday and four ‘onthisdays’. But just before those here is yet another blatant plug for my son’s band ‘Steal The Smile‘ check them out and tell me what you think of them, add them as a friend on MySpace too if you haven’t done so already, click their name for the link.
So in yet another attempt to post a short one (oooooerr missus!) here comes that birthday.
Today is the 59th birthday of Bobby McFerrin who had a massive hit in 1988 with the rather excellent “Don’t Worry Be Happy” (UK 2, US 1 that is it’s respective chart positions and not an international soccer score in case you were wondering). It was the first a capella song to reach the top of the Billboard charts in the US. The phrase “Don’t Worry Be Happy” comes originally from the teachings of Meher Baba. His teachings were followed at times by Pete Townshend of the Who
Bobby was having the worst bad hair day of his life!
On this day in 1967 the music publisher Dick James announced that the Beatles song (well it’s Macca’s really) “Yesterday” had been recorded by 446 acts at that point. Considering the song was only released in 1965 that’s pretty good going It is now believed that there are more than 3,000 recorded versions. The song is believed to have been performed more than 3 million times in the last century according to the BMI. Paul McCartney gave the tune the working title of “Scrambled Eggs” before he wrote the lyrics. Here are two cover versions of the song, firstly from Dogpatch Debbie, it’s certainly different and then a great version from the late great (oh yes they’re back!) Ray Charles
Paul's audience were somewhat surprised when he decided to cover "I'm A Little Teapot Short And Stout"
On this day in 1978 there was some shocking news (geddit?). French singer Claude Francois was electrocuted while changing a light bulb when he was standing in his bathtub, presumably with water in. he had a UK hit in 1976 with “Tears On The Telephone” Claude is perhaps most famous for writing the song “Comme D’Habitude” which became a standard after English lyrics were written by Paul Anka and the song with those new lyrics was recorded by ole’ blue eyes himself Mr Frank Sinatra (or as I like to call him Frank Sinister). That song ladies and gentlemen is “My Way” Incidentally David Bowie (yet another DB reference) was the first person to write an English lyric for the tune but nobody took his words up! Here is Claude with “Comme D’Habitude” and here Mr Bowie explains his encounter with the song, it’s impact on “Life On Mars” and how he met Marc Bolan.
Claude always wore Lynx anti-perspirant and it certainly seemed to work for him!
Also on this day in 1978 Meat Loaf’s “Bat Out Of Hell” album began a 416 week run in the UK album charts and selling 2 million copies in the process. Mr Loaf is actually called Marvin Lee Aday, his Meat Loaf name allegedy came from an incident when he stood on the foot of his high school football coach. Jim Steinman wrote the ‘Bat Out Of Hell’ album and many claim that it shows his love of Bruce Springsteen, Phil Spector and Wagner. The album was produced by Todd Rundgren. The album supposedly still sells around 200,000 copies per year even now. Is there anyone reading this that doesn’t own the album? Here is Mr Loaf himself with the classic “Paradise By The Dashboard Light” ably assisted by Ellen Foley.
From the look of it Meat Loaf should have taken Claude's anti perspirant advice
And yet again in 1978 the debut single from the wonderful Kate Bush, “Wuthering Heights” Kate was only 15 when EMI’s interest was sparked by a demo tape of hers was passed to their A & R man Bob Mercer by David Gilmour of Pink Floyd. Gilmour actually plays guitar on the song too in particular that wonderful solo on the fade out. The company spent nearly 3 years on developing Kate as an artist. Sadly with the awful rise of X Factor and Idol shows that kind of thing is almost unheard of these days. She undertook, dance, vocal and mime classes. Her mime teacher was none other than Lindsay Kemp, who also taught David Bowie his mime skills (there you go, yet another Bowie reference). “Wuthering Heights” was originally scheduled for release in November 1977 but the company deemed it to be not radio friendly, it was eventually issued in January 1978. The song was inspired by Emily Bronte’s book of the same name, Kate is a big Bronte fan and even shares her birthday, July 30th. (Kate in 1958 and Emily 140 years earlier in 1818) Here is Ms Bush with that wonderful song and yes “Wuthering Heights” is certainly one of the 50 songs in my top 10
Kate's Stage Musical version of Lady Godiva never really took off
And finally here’s another picture of Kate, simply because I’ve always had a thing for the delectable Ms Bush 🙂
More Kate Bush........ because I can or perhaps more likely because I'd like to 😉