With Just A Hint Of Mayhem

Music reviews, gig reviews, fun trivia and extra added random stuff!

“There were promises made, Plans firmly laid, Now madness prevails, Lies fill the air” a.k.a six geese a laying December 18, 2012


It’s day six of my Christmas posts this year and that means it’s the turn of those six geese a laying. Now I must confess that no goose or geese songs sprang immediately to mind when I was doing the initial research for my 12 days of Christmas series of posts. However I have been able to find a couple of good songs for you. But before those songs how are our geese doing these days? Well the greylag which I’m told is the ancestor of most of our current domestic geese has quite a healthy population as does the pink-footed goose. . However the white-fronted goose, which visits the UK in winter has a shrinking population. I guess that means we’ll probably stick with the traditional roast turkey and not goose this year!

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So on to those two goose related songs. Firstly it’s “Grey Goose” by Sweet Honey In The Rock. This group is all female, African-American and they sing a capella. They take their name from the bible, Psalm 81:16, which mentions a sweet, nurturing substance and the strength of rock. They have received several Grammy nominations since they formed nearly 40 years ago. They won a Grammy for the song I have chosen, which was originally by Leadbelly. The group also take a professional sign language interpreter on tour with them. Their vocals have also featured on Sesame Street.


The second of my goose related songs comes from Joan Armatrading, it’s called “The Flight Of The Wild Geese“. It was written for the 1978 film ‘The Wild Geese’ and can be heard on the opening and closing credits. The film starred Richard Burton, Roger Moore and Richard Harris. Joan has always been a great supporter of her fellow musicians and on her Starlight tour earlier this year the opening act was different at each of the 56 dates. Each gig had a local singer songwriter open the show. Some of the songs from those artists were later released on a compilation album on Joan’s Hypertension label. She also provided vocals on Queen’s ‘A Kind Of Magic’ album on the track “Don’t Lose Your Head”



“I wait in the darkness of my lonely room, filled with sadness, filled with gloom” a.k.a five gold rings December 17, 2012


It’s now day 5 of my 12 days of Christmas series and that can only mean one thing right? Well five things actually and all of those are gold rings. Yes, on the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me five gold rings. Go on admit it you sang that line in your head just like it goes in the tune didn’t you? Had you bought your five gold rings in 1970 they would now be worth considerably more. In December 1970 gold was valued at £15.64 an ounce, earlier this month its value was £1,060.95 an ounce. Some interpretations of the 12 days of Christmas suggest that the gold rings are in fact goldspinks which as old name for a goldfinch. However I have based my choice of songs on the gold rings and I have two great songs for you.

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Firstly we go to the King, kind of appropriate for Christmas don’t you think? Yes it’s Elvis Aaron Presley with “Wear My Ring (Around Your Neck)”. The song was written by Bert Carroll and Russell Moody and was released in 1958. Up to that point Elvis had achieved a string of ten consecutive number ones on the Billboard Hot 100, but this song stalled at number two. It made it to number three in the UK. Did you know that Elvis’ father Vernon’s middle name was Elvis or that his mother Gladys’ middle name was Love? You didn’t? Well you do now. It has been said that Elvis once entered an Elvis lookalike contest and only came third. However whilst this is a great story that is probably all it is. It was an item printed in the Weekly World News which is about as reliable in the truth department as the National Enquirer or perhaps the Sunday Sport in the UK.



The second of this posts songs is the soul classic “Band Of Gold” by Freda Payne. It was a million seller in 1970 where it reached number one in the UK but only number three in the US. It was also her biggest hit on both sides of the Atlantic. It was released on the Invictus label which had been set up by the Holland Dozier Holland team after they left Motown. “Band Of Gold” was written by Edythe Wayne and Ron Dunbar but it was produced by Brian Holland and Lamont Dozier. The lead guitar on the song comes from Ray Parker Jr and two former Motown backing vocalists provided vocal backing for Freda. Those backing vocalists were Joyce Vincent Wilson and Telma Hopkins, both later went on to join Tony Orland as part of Tony Orlando and Dawn. Did you know that Freda’s sister Scherrie was a member of the post Diana Ross Supremes for a while? When I began as a mobile DJ back in the 70s some of the advice I received from an old sage of a DJ was to never play this song at a wedding reception as it is all about break up. That’s true but hell it’s a great dance track isn’t it. So I must confess to the world that I have indeed played the song at wedding receptions.


Two Goldfinches, the whereabouts of the other three are currently unknown!

Two Goldfinches, the whereabouts of the other three are currently unknown!


“Form a string quartet and pretend your name is Keith” a.k.a Three French Hens December 15, 2012


So after my Partridge and pears post and yesterdays turtle Doves post can I assume that you’re now with the programme and you know what’s coming next in my 12 days of Christmas series? That’s good then, so now let’s chat about the three French Hens that my true love gave to me on the third day of Christmas shall we?


There are quite a few songs that I could have chosen and I have opted for two which I hope you will enjoy. Although if you wish to submit your own then feel free. So up first is the now rather twee spin-off from the excellent 80s/ 90s TV show ‘Spitting Image‘. yep it’s the one and only “Chicken Song”. I long for the return of ‘Spitting Image’ the politicians and celebrities these days really lend themselves to it don’t you think? The original puppets were created by Peter Fluck and Roger Law a.k.a Fluck and Law, frankly you couldn’t make up a better name could you?


The song was produced by Philip Pope and written by Rob Grant and Doug Naylor. It was seen as a parody of any number of Costa Del Booze holiday songs like “Agadoo”. “The Chicken Song” was number one in the UK for three weeks in 1986. It also reached the summit in Ireland. The B side of the single was another Spitting Image classic; “(I’ve Never Met A Nice) South African)”.


For my second French Hens song I have gone back a little further in time to 1969 for the wonderful “Do The Funky Chicken” from the late, great Rufus Thomas. One of the last big gigs from Rufus came in 1996 at the Atlanta Olympics when he appeared with another soul legend, William Bell. After Rufus died in 2001 a street just off Beale Street in Memphis was named after him. He had also recorded for Sam Phillips‘ Sun label before Elvis. On top of that his daughter Carla was another hit maker from the Thomas family. Rufus had quite a few animal and bird related songs; “Bear Cat” (1953), “The Dog”, “Walking The Dog” (1963), “Can Your Monkey Do The Dog” (1964), “Chicken Scratch” (1965), “The Preacher And The Bear” (1970), “Do The Funky Penguin” (1972) and “the Funky Bird” (1973).


And finally a Billy Bonus, some instructions showing you how to do the “Funky Chicken”.


“Take time for your pleasure and laugh with love” a.k.a. Two Turtle Doves December 14, 2012


I hope that after yesterdays Partridge and pears post you’re getting the hang of this. If you are then you’ll know that on the 2nd day of Christmas it was the turn of two turtle doves. The Turtle Dove in the UK is facing a bleak future. It is now believed there are only around 14,000 pairs left, which makes up a fall in population of 60% over five years. Anyway enough of the ecology for now and on with the music.


I have selected two dove related songs for your aural pleasure today. The first of those is from the purple pain himself, Prince a.k.a. TAFKAP (The Artist Formerly Known As Prince), Christopher and Symbol among other things. Incidentally I wonder if I might rename him TAFKADS (The Artist Formerly Known As Dove Soap) for this post. I’m sure you can guess which one of his songs I have selected can’t you? Yes it’s the classic 80s hit “When Doves Cry”. It was the first single to be taken from the timeless classic album ‘Purple Rain’. It was the last track on the album to be completed and not only did Prince write the song, he also played every instrument on it. Except of course the bass. Who played bass I hear you ask? Well actually it was no one, the song has no bass line in it. The song has been covered by may artists, including Razorlight, Patti Smith, Damien Rice and the Be Good Tanyas.

Prince vowed never to let Edward Scissorhands cut his hair again

Prince vowed never to let Edward Scissorhands cut his hair again

It was also heavily sampled by MC Hammer on his song “Pray” from 1990. “When Doves Cry” was Prince’s first US number one single and remained at the top of the pile for 5 weeks in 1984. It also reached the top in Australia and Canada and sat at number two in Ireland and New Zealand. It reached only a relatively lowly number four in the UK. This was bettered by 1994’s “The Most Beautiful Girl In The World” a UK number one. In addition “1999”, “Little Red Corvette” and “Batdance” hit the number two position in 1982, 1983 and 1989 respectively. “Gett Off” and “Cream” both made number three in 1991.


The second dove related song on today’s post is from those North London Nutty Boys, Madness and it is “Wings Of A Dove”. Surprisingly, for me at least, it remains the band’s second biggest UK chart hit; it reached number two in 1983. It did reach the top of the charts in Ireland though. Their only UK number one was “House Of Fun” from 1982. It was a non album single written by Suggs and Chas Smash. The single also featured steel drums from the  Creighton Steel Sounds and a gospel choir from the First Born Inspirational Church of the Living God. It was also used in the film ’10 Things I Hate About You’ in 1999.


“And didn’t I go and shout it when you walked into my room” a.k.a. A Partridge in a Pear Tree December 13, 2012


Some of you may recall my Christmas advent calendar posts in recent years; these included UK Christmas number ones, Cover versions and an ABC of Motown. This year I have gone for something slightly different but one that sticks with a Christmas tradition at least. I will be making a series of posts influenced by the items in the song “The 12 Days Of Christmas”. I recognise that this won’t mirror the 12 days strictly according to dates as I am starting today, 13th December.


You know the first line of the song I’m sure. But here it is anyway “On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me, a partridge in a pear tree”. So what can I give you musically that relates to that line? Well two songs actually, first “I Think I Love You” from the Partridge Family. This song was a number one in the USA and Canada in 1970 and only managed number 18 in the UK. The song featured in the TV show ‘The Partridge Family’ in the same year, but only David Cassidy and Shirley Jones from the show performed on the recording.


The song was written by Tony Romeo who wrote a number of other hits in the 60s and 70s, including Lou Christie’s “I’m Gonna Make You Mine”. “I Think I Love You” has been covered by a diverse group of artists that include; Perry Como, Voice Of The Beehive and Less Than Jake. David Cassidy’s daughter Katie also covered the song when she was just 15.


The second song for the first day of Christmas comes from another music TV series, this time the Monkees. The song “Apples, Peaches, Bananas And Pears” was featured in the show but only found commercial release on the compilation ‘Missing Links’ from 1987. Monkee Mickey Dolenz was the lead vocalist on the song. It was written by Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart. They wrote a number of other Monkees songs including “(I’m Not Your) Stepping Stone” which was originally recorded by Paul Revere and the Raiders and later covered by the Sex Pistols. The pair also wrote the following Monkees classics; “Last Train To Clarksville”, “Valleri” and the “(Theme From) The Monkees”.


So now you can enjoy the two songs from the first day of Christmas and I dedicate them to my own true love, Catherine a.k.a Catwoman. Incidentally did you know that the Partridge in the UK is becoming an endangered species with a fall in numbers of around 30% in the five years to 2010.



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