It was announced earlier today that one of the founder members of the Sweet, Steve Priest, had died aged just 72. That means only Andy Scott remains from the original classic line up. For many people around my age, the Sweet were part of our teenage years. There were times when I tried not to like them, especially when as a Bowie fan I felt that “Blockbuster” ripped off the guitar riff from Bowie’s “Jean Genie” and also kept it from number one in the UK charts. But to be fair the riff is most likely taken from the Yardbirds’ “I’m A Man” which is a cover of the Bo Diddley original from the 1950s, which in turn borrowed heavily from Howlin’ Wolf’s 1954 release “Hoochie Coochie Man”. Anyway, once I grew past my tribal loyalty to Bowie and perceived distaste for the Sweet I learned that in spite of their earlier pop successes the Sweet were real hard rockers at heart. Their album ‘Sweet Fanny Adams’ and many of their b-sides are a testament to this. The band’s first self-written hit was “Fox On The Run” in 1975.
While I don’t really like their out and out pop stuff that much it is hard to deny that the Nicky Chin and Mike Chapman are supreme earworm pop classics. However, the rest of Europe really adopted the Sweet as a full-on rock band, especially Germany. I love their later singles and also the ‘Desolation Boulevard’ album, which still sounds good today. I saw them live in the late 70s and they were pretty damned good. RIP Steve Priest, you will be sadly missed by pop, glam, rock fans around the world. Thank you for the music that you left us!
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It’s great news that David Cameron and his dreadful Conservative government have at least postponed the vote on the repeal of the fox-hunting band. Having been out foxed Nicola Sturgeon of the SNP he is now a little like a fox on the run himself. Some UK newspapers are even referring to this as a humiliation for him. I’d like to think that he does feel humiliated but somehow I doubt that he does.
Well if you won’t let us posh arseholes hunt and kill foxes we’ll bloody well hunt vicious lambs instead!
For me the idea of chasing after a fox with a baying group of red jacketed toffs on horseback and a pack of dogs is not vermin control. It’s sadism. Anyway we and the foxes, live to fight another day. But don’t let the subject drop! This is but a small victory.
As I have said before this is a music blog so let’s celebrate with some fox related songs.
Cameron as the fox in a fox hunt? I’d pay to see that!
Did you know that the Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman penned “Tiger Feet” was originally offered to the Sweet? Those famous ‘navvies in drag’ turned it down apparently saying it was rubbish. Given the more heavy rock direction the band took after their UK number 2 “Teenage Rampage” it was not surprising with hindsight. But I can’t really imagine that a version by the Sweet would have sounded much different to Mud‘s. What do you think?
The song was Mud’s biggest seller and in fact sold more copies that any other UK single in 1974. It was the first of their three UK number ones and the first of five UK top ten hits for them in 1974. So go ahead and enjoy yourself with a couple of fine slices of British Glam Pop from the 70s.
This is a record-breaking but sad kind of story. One of the largest foxes ever found in the UK was shot on a farm in Aberdeen. It wasn’t killed because it was large, but simply because it was allegedly attacking lambs on a farm. At least it was killed by a working farmer and not some bunch of red jacketed toff twats supported by a cast of hundreds and packs of vicious dogs. Click here to read the story on the BBC site.
Anyway what is this story doing on my music blog? Well it gives me a chance to share some of my favourite fox related songs 🙂 Feel free to submit your own fox songs.
Sorry bunnies, my aim is better now, next time the farmer gets it
Fox On The Run – Manfred Mann – A UK number 5 hit from 1968. The lyrics were from English writer Tony Hazzard who wrote quite a few hits, including another smash from the Manfreds in “Ha Ha Said The Clown”
Fox On The Run – The Sweet – The same title as the Manfred Mann song, but definitely not the same song. This reached number 2 in the UK chart in 1974. It also hit number 5 in the US and was an Australian number one. The song is about groupies as in the women were foxy ladies.
Foxy Lady – Jimi Hendrix – Talking of foxy ladies, this is taken from the Jimi Hendrix Experience album ‘Are You Experienced’ which was released in 1967. The US and Canadian version of the album had the titled incorrectly spelled as “Foxey Lady”
Foxy Foxy – Mott The Hoople – This is one of my favourite songs from this fabulous British band. It reached number 33 in the UK charts in 1974 and never featured on a Mott The Hoople album, other than compilations. It ended a run of 5 top 20 hits in the UK for the band. The group took their name from a Willard Manus novel about someone who worked in a circus freak show.
Reynard The Fox – Julian Cope – This was the opening track from Julian’s 1984 album ‘Fried’. It is apparently a mix of an English folk tale and an incident where Cope had slashed his stomach on stage back in 1983.
OK this is the third and final post about the missing footage of David Bowie doing “The Jean Genie” on Top of the Pops in 1973. Click here and here to see the earlier posts. The reason for this last post is that the video has now thankfully found its way onto YouTube. You can see it below.
This whole episode brought back one memory about the similarity between Bowie’s “Jean Genie” and the Sweet’s “Blockbuster“, in particular the riff. The latter made it to the top of the chart whilst “Jean Genie”, which only made number two, was still in the top ten. The Sweet‘s single, which was written by Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman was released shortly after the Bowie song. As a teenager and a big Bowie fan I could never bring myself to like “Blockbuster” but I have mellowed with age and I’m ok with it now, although I obviously prefer “Jean Genie” to “Blockbuster”.
Nicky Chinn has said that all the writers, including Bowie, were convinced that the whole thing was a coincidence. However Chinn has mentioned a conversation with Bowie about the coincidence. He said Bowie “looked at me completely deadpan and said ‘Cunt!’ And then he got up and gave me a hug and said, ‘Congratulations’.
Anyway now you can enjoy that clip (along with the Sweet and an old clip of Bowie doing “The Jean Genie” on the US TV Special ‘The 1980 Floor Show’ recorded in 1973 which regular readers will have seen before) and I promise I won’t post about it again………probably!
Happy Christmas everyone and thank you so very much for reading my blog, especially for those of you who have hung in their for all of my UK Christmas Number Ones Advent Calendar posts. With today being December 25th that as they say is that. But I am signing off the Advent Calendar with a real Christmas classic. It still gets played regularly these days as well. It’s from 1973 and it’s Slade with “Merry Xmas Everybody”. It was number one for 5 weeks in 1973/1974.
All very amusing indeed, but Rudolph would like his nose back!
Unlike contemporaries like Mud and the Sweet Noddy and the boys wrote their own songs and this one was written by Noddy Holder and Jim Lea. In 2007 “Merry Xmas Everybody” was voted the UKs favourite Christmas song. The song was recorded at the Record Plant in New York during a small summer US tour for the band. Apparently it was a very hot day in an August heat wave. The echo sound you can hear on the chorus was achieved by recording it in the studio corridor.
So that’s it for this years Advent Calendar, any ideas or suggestions for next years advent calendar theme would be welcomed. In the meantime I hope that you all have a wonderful Christmas and a fabulous New Year.
Back in the days when everyone knew me as Billy, now it’s more like Old Bill
This may seem a bit self-indulgent, but is it just me or is there anyone else out there who either loves or loathes songs that include their name? My name is William, but these days most people know me as Bill. As a boy I was known as Billy and some of my Scottish relatives called me Willie, or Wullie as it sounds in a strong Glaswegian accent. I also suffered from being called Little Billy for quite a few years as my Dad and grandfather were fellow Williams. So at the top there was my Grandad, Bill then my Dad, Billy and finally me, Little Billy. Perhaps that is one of the reasons my son is not called William.
Anyway onto the songs, I have always thought that derivations of my name feature in a hell of a lot of songs, but that is probably because I listen out for it. I’m not sure which the most common names used in songs are but I reckon possibly Johnny for the boys and perhaps Susan/ Sue/ Suzie for the girls. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this as well. I was also surprised to find that there are far more William/ Billy songs that I like than those I don’t like
Now onto those William related songs. I have put them into three categories; The Good (those that are ok), the Bad (those that I really don’t like) and the Ugly (reserved for the one William or Billy song that I really, really do not like) I have included songs where my name is included in the lyric and not necessarily in the title.
“William It Was Really Nothing” – Smiths. Probably one of my most favourite William songs. This clip is the famous Top Of The Pops appearance from 1984 where Morrissey pulls open his shirt to reveal the words ‘MARRY ME’
“Wedding Bell Blues” – 5th Dimension. This act featured Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Junior who went on to have a massive hit in 1976 with “You Don’t Have To Be A Star”
“All The Young Dudes” – Mott The Hoople. Simply for the ‘Billy rocked all night about suicide’ line. This is the song that Bowie gave to Mott to ensure that they didn’t break up. Apparently they turned down “Suffragette City” and Drive-In Saturday”. This version is from the Freddie Mercury Tribute concert at Wembley in 1992 and features the remaining members of Queen, David Bowie, Ian Hunter and the late, great Mick Ronson
“Rat Trap” – Boomtown Rats. This one is here as one of the songs main protagonists is Billy. Apparently when Bob Geldof was unsure about releasing this song. He played a demo of it to Phil Lynott off of Thin Lizzy who said that if Geldof didn’t do it he certainly would
“My Girl Bill” – Jim Stafford. This song has a great twist and check out the amazing shirt collar on Mr Stafford
“Billy” – James Blunt. I never have liked James Blunt, I just don’t like his voice, so I guess there was no chance for this song with me
“Little Willy” – Sweet. I have grown to like this a bit more over the years. But to have a song like this out when you’re going through adolescence is no fun. A great opportunity for other kids to diss the size of one’s budding manhood!
“Which Way You Going Billy?” – Poppy Family. A Canadian act with what for me ranks as one of the most insipid songs of the sixties
“Billy Don’t Be A Hero” – Paper Lace. What can I say? I really, really, really, really dislike this song. It was a UK number one in 1974 for Paper Lace, but the US hit was by Bo Donaldson and the Heywoods
Nick - "Dave, will this coalition hurt?" Dave - "Not really, but you may feel a little prick!"
Is the UK’s new coalition government the brave new world that some of the media are suggesting? It is the first for many years and indeed it is the first time The Party Formerly Known As The Liberal Party (TPFKATLP) has been represented on the cabinet. But in essence the country is being run once again by a significant number of toffs. Some 72% of the cabinet were schooled at Westminster, Eton and other exclusive schools and most of those are also Oxbridge Graduates. Personally I feel cheated, for the first time in quite a while I voted Lib Dem rather than Labour as I felt that Nick Clegg’s party ideals were closest to Labours. But then he goes and does a deal with Dangerous Dave. Sure he sided with the party that got most votes, but bear in mind that nobody really won this election. The Tories got 36% of the vote, but that equates to just 23% of those eligible to vote. To make matters worse if it all goes wrong I can’t wear my ‘Don’t Blame Me I Voted Labour’ badge, because I didn’t.
Will this government move us closer to proportional representation? I honestly doubt it, because the Tories and Labour have most to lose from it so they will angle any referendum questions their way I suspect. Am I being overly cynical? Maybe. But here’s another one, the Lib Dems said that they would not proceed with a replacement for Trident, but now that Dave and Nick are all cosied up the Lib Dems will concede on that. Hold on a cotton pickin’ minute here, why has no-one stated the bloody obvious. This government will bring in austerity measures to achieve public spending cuts saving £6 billion. Now according to reports of Trident costs that I have read Trident’s replacement will cost anywhere from £76 billion to £130 billion. So why not scrap Trident and take the £6 billion from there and then pay all the rest of us (except bankers) obscene bonuses with the remaining money. But that won’t happen either as banking reform will be handcuffed as it will be led by George Osborne rather than Vince Cable.
Anyway rant over, because frankly what the hell can I do about it now? Bugger all that’s what! Also this is ostensibly a music blog so let’s get on with that element shall we? Taking the theme, appropriately from another new government story. Dangerous Dave Cameron has apparently banned people from using their mobiles and Blackberrys in meetings and I commend him for that. (Read about it here) Where I work I wish someone would take that extra step and ban bloody meetings though, it’s no wonder that nothing get’s done in most organisations when most of us are sat on our arses in meetings all day!
So back to the point, the banning of phones in government meetings, here are a somewhat eclectic six telephone related songs, (one for each Lib Dem member of the Liberative Cabinet, feel free to suggest your own
and you thought the first mobile phones were big!
“Telephone Line” – ELO. This is probably one of my favourite ELO songs, I always preferred their slower numbers. I went off them when Jeff Lynne just seemed to want to be the Beatles, even before Oasis did. But in their time they did record some classic songs though
“Hanging On The Telephone” – Blondie. This was a cover version the original was by the Nerves (click here to listen). I reckon that quite a few people didn’t know that. I suppose I could have chosen “Call Me” as well. I saw Blondie in the 90’s when “Maria” went to number one in the UK. It was at the Reading Rivermead with my very good friend Jes (Jeremy Hyde to his folks). Anyway the band had played a couple of songs from the new album and we were standing a little way from the stage, then they launched into “Hanging On The Telephone” and I remained were I was whilst Jes was dragged forward by the crowd surge. The next thing I could see was Jes right near the front of the stage pogoing his heart out. He has always had a bit of a thing for Debbie Harry though, in fact he once confided in me that our boss Jane reminded him of Ms Harry. But more of that another day perhaps!
“Vibrate” – Rufus Wainwright. This is taken from Rufus’ excellent album ‘Want One’ which was the first of his that I bought. I love the guys voice, which sometimes reminds me of the late, great Jeff Buckley. he is the son of Kate McGarrigle and Loudon Wainwright III. Loudon once wrote a song called “Rufus Is A Tit Man” which turned out to be completely wrong as Rufus is gay. If my son Luke was around when I put a Rufus Wainwright CD on he always referred to him as Rufus the Doofus, I thought you might want to know that
“Just Seven Numbers (Can Straighten Out My Life)” – Four Tops. Is there anyone out there that doesn’t love Levi Stubbs’ voice, for me it’s an immaculate soul voice. Whilst most of the Four Tops biggest hits were written by the classic teaming of Holland Dozier Holland this one wasn’t. It was co written by Pam Sawyer and Gloria Jones. That’s the very same Gloria Jones that wrote and originally recorded, “Tainted Love” which became Soft Cell’s biggest hit. She also went on to become Marc Bolan’s girlfriend and was driving the car in which he died in September 1977
“Alexander Graham Bell” – Sweet. Mr Bell is credited with inventing the telephone and allegedly he wouldn’t have one in his study as he felt it was an intrusion, that seems a little strange to me. Also his mother and his wife were profoundly deaf, so his invention was never going to benefit them was it?
“Telephone Man” – Meri Wilson. Meri specialised in double entendre type songs of which this, her biggest hit (oooooooh Matron!) is a good example. Sadly she died in a car crash aged just 53 in 2002
Well here we are again on a Monday morning, what the hell happened to the damned weekend? Why is it only two days? Three or four would be better wouldn’t it?
Anyway in yet another forlorn attempt to keep this post short, I think I know I’ll fail in that aim, let’s kick off with some birthdays. Firstly 23rd February 2009 is the 65th birthday of talented guitarist Johnny Winter. He was one of the numerous acts to play the Woodstock Festival in 1969, playing a nine song set which included his brother Edgar on two songs. Here is a clip of him from that very set at Woodstock. The rather splendid US band the Smashing Pumpkins recorded an instrumental homage to Johnny called “Tribute to Johnny”, in which they tried to emulate Winter’s unique guitar sound. The song was originally intended for their excellent 1995 album ‘Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness’ but was rejected and eventually turned as b-side on their “Zero” single. Ill health means that Johnny is only able to play whilst seated. Both he and his brother Edgar are albino, to find out a little more about this go check out Wikipedia here.
As this picture proves Johnny had a very laid back playing style
Today is also the day to wish Steve Priest, the Sweet’s guitarist a happy 59th birthday. He was born in Hayes, Middlesex in the UK just a few miles away from where I was born and grew up. I now live 200 miles away in York while Steve lives a little further away in California. Who do you think got the better deal weatherwise? An early incarnation of the Sweet was called the Sweetshop, whilst they released a few singles they all failed to hit the chart. The classic line up of the band (Steve Priest, Brian Connolly, Mick Tucker and Andy Scott) came together in 1970. “Funny Funny” written by Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman became the bands first hit in 1971. Despite the fact that the band were all competent musicians and thanks to Messrs Chinn and Chapman they were not allowed to play on any of their RCA singles until “Wig Wam Bam”. They were seen by many as just another bubblegum pop band, although many of their B Sides and live gigs belied this and showed their love of and skill at playing harder rock. Steve Priest and Andy Scott are now the only surviving members of that classic line up and both still tour with their own versions of the band. Imaginatively called Steve Priest’s Sweet and Andy Scott’s Sweet! Here are the boys with “Ballroom Blitz” from 1973, Steve is the guy who does the rather camp speaking part in the song!
The Sweet like brickies in drag! Mr Priest is the one on the bottom left
The last birthday today is Rob Collins keyboard player with the Charlatans. He would have been 46 today but sadly he was killed in a car crash on 23rd July 1996 in Rockfield, Wales during the recording sessions for the band’s 5th album. The Charlatans first gig was at Vic’s Club in Northwich, Cheshire in the UK. Following that gig their manager was able to secure them five support slots with the then new cult heroes the Stone Roses played between November 1988 and April 1989. It was Rob Collins distinctive Hammond Organ sound that underpinned many of the bands songs. Apparently he bought the organ from a local church. Here are the boys with the rather splendid “Weirdo” which Catwoman swears is about me!
Rob Collins RIP
On this day in 1974 Suzi Quatro was number one in the UK charts with “Devil Gate Drive” her second number one. From quite a young age Suzi (born Susan Kay Quatro) had aspired to a career in music. She left school in 1964 and immediately formed a band called the ‘Pleasure Seekers’ with her three sisters Arlene, Patti and Nancy. As with the Sweet earlier in this post and Mud from a previous post, many of her early hits were written by Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman. Fans of the US sitcom ‘Happy Days’ may also remember Suzi’s appearances on that show as Leather Tuscadero in 1977
Suzi had failed to notice the small ladder in her tights as she went on stage
It was on this day in 1979 that Dire Straits played their first ever US show when they appeared at the Paradise Club in Boston. The single of the title track from 1985’s “Brothers In Arms” album was the first commercially available CD single. 400 copies were pressed for release in November 1985. The album went to number one in both the UK and the US. Here is my favourite Dire Straits song which was also their first UK hit, “Sultans Of Swing”
Though they were excellent guitarists those Dire Straits boys never really mastered the Hank Marvin/ Shadows dance steps
And finally on this day in 2003 the UK tabloid ‘The News Of The World’ reported that Michael Jackson had undergone scores of painful operations to strip his body of black skin until he appeared white. They also reported that surgeons at a Santa Monica clinic eventually refused him any further treatment. An ‘insider’ told the paper that Jacson had been anesthetized on a weekly basis to have his skin peeled and bleached. Is this a true story? Maybe, but bear in mind the track record of the UK tabloid press in making up stories before making up your mind. Here is Michael with “Black Or White”
looking at the man in the mirror Michael finally realised that he may have overdone the plastic surgery
Well that’s another day nearly over folks, enjoy the rest of it and I’ll be back tomorrow