Not only have you been granted an actual, real extra hour with the clocks going back (subject to geolocation) but this week you also get a bonus Six Picks. Unlike the extra hour you spent asleep last night, this is not literally a waste of time.
Oh, and it was a significant date in time travelling movie history this week as well, apparently. Presumably it was the date Bill and Ted actually gave their history assignment talk or something. Excellent.
Max and the Moon – “Modern Love”
Not to be confused with the Bowie track of the same name, “Modern Love” sees Max and the Moon compare love today with love yesterday and come out broadly in favour of whatever works best for your epoch.
can I take you back in time with me
to the edge of the world
with the devil and the odyssey?
Ride – Time Machine
Classic post-shoegaze that is doubtless used as the theme tune for some alternative timeline’s Doctor Who equivalent. Bit of a noob time-travellers error in the lyric, though:
I’m landing back in this year
Did I ever move?
Did I disappear?
If I could move through time
I’d go back and put it right
Meddling in the past is the sort of wanton stupidity that leads to…
Johnny Foreigner – Alternate Timelines Piling Up
Indeed. Have you ever seen the movie Primer? It probably has the highest ratio of storyline confusion and unravelling cost to actual shooting cost of any movie ever made. Despite only costing around $7000 to make, Shane Carruth’s film manages to pack in more ideas, threads, timelines and intrigue than those costing thousands of times more.
Marching Band – Travel in Time
When will people learn? Sweden’s Marching Band used this track on their debut album Spark Large to announce their plans for rewriting history. Where (or indeed “when”, or even “wheres” if you’re into all that multiverse stuff) will this all end?
And I’m learning how to travel in time
All to make right the things I’ve done wrong
And when I do, I will open my mouth
I’m going back, back, back in time
Courtney Barnett – “History Eraser”
If you’re going to mess with reality, best to do it drunk and within the confines of your own imagination. Especially if it’s as brilliant and poetic as the one belonging to Courtney Barnett. If you want to know how difficult erasing history really is (in a loose sense of the word “really” obviously), read Stephen King’s “11.22.63” and you’ll get an idea of the perils and travails involved.
We caught the river boat downstream and ended up beside a team of angry footballers.
I fed the ducks some krill then we were sucked against our will into the welcome doors of the casino.
We drank green margaritas, danced with sweet senoritas, and we all went home as winners of a kind.
You said “i guarantee we’ll have more fun, drink till the moon becomes the sun, and in the taxi home i’ll sing you a triffids song!”
Idlewild – Take Me Back In Time
For a band that were once described as “the sound of a set of stairs falling down a set of stairs”, Idlewild have come a long way.
There’s a nice ambiguity in the lyric to this closing track from Post Electric Blues – is Roddy Woomble looking forwards or backwards?
But I won’t try to live side by side
And I won’t try when you can take me back in time
Colder than before, but not yet wintry, and certainly not Christmassy, it can only be Autumn.
Yo La Tengo – “Autumn Sweater”
It’s mindblowing what three talented musicians and songwriters can do with two people hitting and shaking stuff and one playing some sort of magical electronified piano. There are so many reasons to love Yo La Tengo and this is right up there. If you don’t know them, dive in to their back catalogue at any point and feel the quality, or grab a copy of Prisoners of Love: A Smattering of Scintillating Senescent Songs: 1985–2003, which compiles much greatness from the band’s first 18 years in its two or three discs (depending on which version you get)
Teenage Fanclub – “Fallen Leaves”
When you’ve come up with an album as good as Bandwagonesque so early in your career it must be tempting to wonder if the rest won’t become nothing more than an afterword. A good idea, then, almost a decade and a half later to come up with an album – Man-made – and a track – “Fallen Leaves” – that strongly suggest otherwise.
The Clientele – “Harvest Time”
For years The Clientele put out albums of gently reverb-laden beauty, existing in a vague space somewhere between late ’60s beat and the moments of sweet contentment just before those times when you’re falling asleep and reach that near-dream state that makes you say weird things. And for years, more or less, they were ignored at home in the UK, finding more success in America. Harvest Time is just one of many perfect examples of why this is such an unfortunate oversight.
Inspiral Carpets – “She Comes in the Fall”
British language pedants would do well to observe that fall and autumn were once interchangeable. Much like the word “maths” seems to suit the British penchant for pluralisation (see also physics et al and how we talk about entities like football teams and rock bands), where the alternative and once happily used “math” was exported to America and gained popularity, that we seem to prefer “autumn” to “fall” does not make one more correct than the other. Romantic sounding, perhaps, but not correct.
Catchers – “Song For Autumn”
Catchers split after just two (lovely) albums. Both Mute and Stooping to Fit come alive on the vocal interplay between Dale Grundle and Alice Lemon. In 2008 Grundle, recording as The Sleeping Years, released We’re Becoming Islands One By One, and more recently made some old Catchers demos and recordings available on Soundcloud, but
Lambchop – “Autumn’s Vicar”
If I was to recommend a Lambchop album for an “Essential albums you must own, or choose your own collection, what do I care” feature, I would unhesitatingly plump for Nixon (2000). If I was to recommend two Lambchop albums, I’d add its successor Is A Woman (2002). It’s a lengthy effort, tracks repose languorously for five or six minutes, gently fanned by soft orchestration and Kurt Wagner’s croon/growl. A good recent companion piece might be Elbow’s The Take Off and Landing of Everything (2014), in which nothing very startling happens, and where there is much pleasure to be found in the ongoing not-happenings.
Now Autumn’s fire burns slowly along the woods and day by day the dead leaves fall and melt. William Allingham
A spy, like a writer, lives outside the mainstream population. He steals his experience through bribes and reconstructs it.
It’s a dirty game, is espionage. And an extraordinary one – one in which we are all engaged at one time another. No? Just me then…
There’s nothing underhand or tricky about today’s six picks: no invisible ink, no dead drops, not even a pair of eye-holes cunningly cut into the page of a newspaper. No code to decypher, just six great songs about spies and their art. Relax: not one of them is the theme for the new James Bond film, Spectre, out later this month.
Pulp – I Spy
It may look to the untrained eye
I’m sitting on my arse all day
And I’m biding my time until I take you all on my Lords and Ladies
I will prevail, I cannot fail.
‘Cos I spy.
No-one does voyeur, no-one does perverted quite like Jarvis. No-one observes, no-one articulates the drama of the mundane, the exquisite agony of the every day with quite his precision.
The Spinto Band – Spy vs Spy
Spy Vs Spy was the name of a cold-war satire in cartoon form from the pages of MAD magazine. Later it became a 1980s computer game that pitched you against a rival spy in sometimes frantic, sometimes sly and underhand conflict in an attempt to collect items and escape a series of embassies before your opponent. It also crops up in the title of a Billy Bragg album (Life’s a riot with Spy Vs Spy) and here, in the title of this track from Nice and Nicely Done, a 2005 album by The Spinto Band.
Alberto Iglesias – George Smiley
The thing about Smiley is just how much he communicates even without talking all that much. It’s all in a look, a glance, and micro-expressions conveying nuanced understanding. Likewise, his theme, the opening to the 2011 film adaptation of John Le Carré’s tale of mole-hunting in “the circus”, treads softly but nonetheless builds incremental tension through subtly shifting shades.
Rory Gallagher – Philby
Now ain’t it strange that I feel like Philby
There’s a stranger in my soul
I’m lost in transit in a lonesome city
I can’t come in from the cold
I will come straight out with an open and honest confession here: until watching recent BBC documentary “The Irish Rock Story: A Tale of Two Cities” I knew nothing of Rory Gallagher. And why would I? Turns out he was only an immensely talented and influential guitarist who sold millions of albums…
Jennie Vee – Spying
Spying; another way of knowing
You know it gets me nowhere
You know it brings me nothing
But sad distractions
Playing bass for both Tamaryn and Courtney Love hasn’t stood in the way of Jennie Vee developing her own career. Her debut EP To Die Alone was released last September, followed by Never Let You Down and a cover of the Echo & The Bunnymen track Lips Like Sugar. “Spying”, produced by Snow Patrol’s Paul Wilson offers up another taste of her mixture of glam and grit: a sort of 80s inspired dream-pop-punk.
Carly Simon – Nobody Does it Better
Stop talking about American things, and let’s watch the best film ever made.
Alan Partridge may have questionable taste in many areas of his life, but he sure does know and like his James Bond. And just because you’ve recorded over The Spy Who Loved Me with America’s Strongest Man, it doesn’t mean you have to miss out on a frame by frame description of the opening sequence, and Alan’s own interpretation of Carly Simon’s 1977 hit.
You may have noticed in passing that the final of The Great British Bake Off was on yesterday. And what a feast of friendship and skill it was. Or, if you’ve been visiting the darknet – or Murdoch empire and Daily Mail as it’s more commonly known – what contrived PC-gone-bonkers rubbish. If you’re in the latter camp, Amanda Platell would like to invite you round for tea. I’d take your own cakes, if I were you. For everyone else, this week’s Six Picks brings you six songs about cake, the makers of cake that bake them, and their cake-making premises. Jó étvágyat!
Crowded House – “Chocolate Cake”
Is it a good idea to start with “Chocolate Cake”? Not always, it seems. In 1991, that’s exactly what Crowded House decided to do, putting the song right at the start of Woodface. It became their best-selling album, but not everywhere. In the US it barely made a dent.
“Chocolate Cake”, in hindsight, may well have undone us. It started off as a live song, which was tremendous fun to play. But as a first single a lot of people were put off by it. It was confrontational, which was good in a sense — people either loved it or they hated it. But maybe it gave an impression of the album which was quite remote from what the album actually was.Neil Finn
Tori Amos – “Baker Baker”
Pretty sure this isn’t about actual baking.
baker baker baking a cake
make me a day
make me whole again
and i wonder what’s in a day
what’s in your cake this time
The Auteurs – “Chinese Bakery”
Number 42 with a bang, one below previous single Lenny Valentino. At the time, Luke Haines was at odds with the prevailing Britpop winds, today similarly placed compared with the joy and happiness of The Great British Bake Off.
She’s going downtown
But she comes from uptown
Where the brokers and the dealers socialize
She’s going downtown
‘Cos shes a poet
And the Chinese bakery’s open all night
Small Faces – “Song of a Baker”
For their 1968 album Ogdens’ Nut Gone Flake, Small Faces went for the full conceptual psychedelic treatment, including side two’s cycle of six songs narrated by Stanley Unwin, in his playful “Unwinese” style. Side one was more conventional, and contained the splendidly bucolic-rock stylings of Song of a Baker.
There’s wheat in the field
And water in the stream
And salt in the mine
And an aching in me.
I can longer stand and wonder
Cos I’m driven by this hunger.
So I’ll jug some water, bake some flour,
Store some salt and wait the hour.
Arctic Monkeys – “The Bakery”
Recorded during the Favourite Worst Nightmare sessions, The Bakery was in contention for a place on the album, but ended up as a b-side to Fluorescent Adolescent, the album’s second single. Not a lot of actual baking going on in this one.
I wish I’d seen you in the bakery
But if I’d seen you in the bakery
You probably wouldn’t have seen me
Razorcuts – “Big Pink Cake”
And back to whimsy, in the form of 1980s bedroom indie-pop. Razorcuts were Luton school friends Gregory Webster and Tim Vass; they named their band after a Buzzcocks bootleg, and recorded two singles for Subway (Big Pink Cake and Sorry to Embarrass You) before signing for Creation.
The Kinks – “Village Green”
Because GBBO ends outside the marquee, with a gathering of friends and family, in the spirit of the good old summer fete. In the grounds of a country house it may be, but the spirit evoked is very much that of the village green.
Six Picks gets moonal this week, in honour of the supermoon. Did you see it? Super, wasn’t it.
Neil Young – “Harvest Moon”
Not only was it super, it was the closest full moon to the Autumn equinox (in the Northern hemisphere), making it a harvest moon as well.
Belly – “Low Red Moon”
We’re a superstitious, irrational bunch, us humans. The Romans thought staring at the moon could make you go crazy (hence “lunatic”), and a red moon has been widely interpreted through the ages as a sign of impending doom. But now we have science, so everything’s ok.
The Walkmen – “Red Moon”
See above. It’s just light, or particles, or somesuch making it that colour.
Nick Drake – “Pink Moon”
There’s more than a little bit of Autumnal staring at the sky and wondering why on Pink Moon, Nick Drake’s third and final studio album. Lyrics of fear and uncertainty litter the album, mingled with autumnal references. Neither bucolic nor pastoral, the album conjures a woodland floor, teeming with lives free and unburdened that Nick could not imagine for himself.
I saw it written and I saw it say
Pink moon is on its way
And none of you stand so tall
Pink moon gonna get you all
Peter Bruntnell – “Orange Moon”
There’s a good chance you’re not all that familiar with Peter Bruntnell’s sweetly beautiful music. If you like “Orange Moon” and its hints of the melancholic Americana of the likes of The Pernice Brothers, then a good way to start your collection would be with the 2005 album Ghost in a Spitfire that it appears on.
Salako – “The Moon Radiates a Purple Glow in his World”
Salako were a typically charming Jeepster records ’90s signing. Unlike Belle and Sebastian – another band that fits that description – they did not enjoy a meteoric rise, and are probably best known among fans of that band who dabbled in the rest of the Jeepster roster. As the label’s website explains:
Nobody passes through Hull. The town lies at the end of an unmodernised branch line that, travelling from London, involves changing at Doncaster and boarding a rickety train service going by the name of Northern Spirit.
It’s fitting enough that this out-on-a-limb-town has given birth to the self-contained, idiosyncratic music of Salako. In the 20 months since they released their first single on Jeepster, this group has unleashed over 60 songs onto the world, all recorded in Luke’s bedroom (except, that is, the ones that were recorded at the beach or the newsagents).
This week’s six picks is inspired by The Cherry Blossoms / The Brave Blossoms and their stunning, completely unprecedented victory over South Africa in the Rugby World Cup last weekend. It’s also a brave, but ultimately futile attempt to associate the tournament with music other than the show-stoppingly awful snatches before and after the advert breaks.
Stuart Murdoch’s dancing in this video for the opening track to Belle and Sebastian Write About Love is pretty much the sweet, twee encapsulation of the ongoing feeling of slowly releasing something joyful inside you. In a sense the opposite of the incredible outflow of emotion when the final whistle blew as the perfunctory conversion attempt sailed several yards wide of the left upright.
Kristin Hersh – In Shock
In the stands, Japanese men were in tears; on the pitch, South African men were in disbelief.
Turin Brakes – Underdog (Save Me)
The normal way of things in a competition in a sport that’s developing in some places and firmly entrenched in others is that the underdog gets well and truly battered. In football this means England beating Turkey 8-0 for most of the 1980s. In Rugby Union it means established giants such as The All Blacks scoring a century of points, even before the professional era – not so much professional against amateur as amateur versus amateurish. In the 1995 Rugby World Cup, New Zealand put 145 points past Japan: it was just the price minnows had to pay to be let onto the big stage.
Radiohead – No Surprises
That’s largely how it goes in Rugby. No alarms and no surprises. Except when France are involved, at which point you might as well fill your betting slip by throwing darts. Blindfolded. Through your legs. There are many ways to score, many ways to infringe, and many technical elements that you just can’t compete against if you don’t have the experience or know-how. In 1996, the Clash of the Codes pitted the champions of League (Wigan) and Union (Bath) against each other in a two-match series. Each team won the match played under its own code comfortably enough, Wigan’s exquisite running, angles, and ball-handling utterly bamboozling the Bath players in the League match (and, it must be said, in the second half of the Union match, when they ran in three superb tries), Bath’s forwards proving too much to handle in the return fixture.
The Folk Implosion – Dare to be Surprised
It doesn’t always have to be that way, though. Every now and then USA beat England 1-0, Greece or Denmark win the European Championships, Liverpool come back from 3-0 down at half-time, Mon Mome wins the Grand National, and Steven Bradbury wins 1000 metres Short track speed skating gold. As much as it is inspiring and unifying to observe the pinnacles of sporting excellence time and again, there’s nothing quite like a outsider victory to maintain and renew interest.
Lord Nelson, Lord Beaverbrook, Sir Winston Churchill, Sir Anthony Eden, Clement Attlee, Henry Cooper, Lady Diana, vi har slått dem alle sammen, vi har slått dem alle sammen [we have beaten them all, we have beaten them all]. Maggie Thatcher, can you hear me? Maggie Thatcher […] your boys took a hell of a beating! Your boys took a hell of a beating!
Charity and music have shared a bond for a while now with some big name artists joining together to raise money for various causes by releasing the so called “charity single”. I think George Harrison is credited with the first charity record with his Bangla Desh single being released in 1971 in aid of the Bangladesh Liberation War.
We have a regular contributions for both Children In Need and Comic Relief in the UK whereby the latest pop sensations will release a song with the profits going to charity. Usually these are upbeat numbers and will hit the number one spot by taking over the airwaves. We’ve also seen a variety of different concerts over the years for charitable causes with Live Aid probably being the one most people will remember.
So, let’s take a look at a six picks based on charity singles. You might remember some of these and perhaps some of them you might not.
Tears for Fears and Friends – Everybody Wants To Run The World
For Sport Aid, 1986.
A song that everyone already knew, but cleverly they changed the word “rule” for “run”. Good thinking. It reached number 5 in the UK charts.
USA For Africa – We Are The World
For the famine in Ethiopia, 1985.
Led by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie, this collective of mainly American artists were inspired to come together by Band Aid. Reached number one in many countries including the USA and Australia.
Manic Street Preachers – Theme from M.A.S.H (Suicide Is Painless)
For The Spastics Society (now Scope), 1992.
Released as a double A side along with The Fatima Mansions who gave us a version of Bryan Adams’ “(Everything I Do) I Do It for You” as the other A-side. Reached number 7 in the UK charts.
George Michael and Queen – Five Live EP
For The Mercury Phoenix Trust, 1993
Released in 1993, the EP features five tracks performed by George Michael, Queen, and Lisa Stansfield. “Somebody to Love” and “These Are the Days of Our Lives” were recorded at the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert, held on 20 April 1992, at Wembley Stadium.
The Justice Collective – He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother
For Hillsborough, 2012.
A Christmas number one in 2012 featuring musicians and celebrities including Paul Heaton, Paloma Faith, Paul McCartney, Gerry Marsden, Glenn Tilbrook, Kenny Dalglish, and Alan Hansen for various charities associated with the Hillsborough disaster.
Crowded House – Help Is Coming
For Save The Children, 2015
The reason I wrote this post in the first place, a forgotten song by Crowded House has been used to support Syrian refugees. At the time of writing, the song is number 29 in the iTunes chart without any airplay (it has not been played on the radio as they do not endorse charity songs apparently). A limited edition 7″ vinyl is available and ALL proceeds are going to the intended charity. Also, George Osborne has agreed to waive the VAT on download purchases so of the 79p cost of the single (79p), so at least 61p from each download will go to help refugee children. Watch the video and buy the single from http://www.helpiscoming.org/.
Your weekly six picks comes to you a day early this week. It’s my birthday, you see, and you’re invited to a Six Picks birthday party.
It’s a music-only party. No boring small-talk, and no inter-song wittering from me either. All I will say is that I asked for submissions and contributions, and this is what you offered. For that, I say a hearty thank you!
Altered Images – Happy Birthday
If they were me and I was you
Would you have liked a present too?
Peter Hammill – Birthday Special
There’s parrots in the pantry
And there’s lizards in the loo
There’s bloaters in the bathroom
And this party is a zoo;
I’m sitting in the kitchen
Trying hard to talk to you
Pet Shop Boys – Birthday Boy
plays the machines
in the arcade
Oh baby do you remember
he’s been through all this before?
Spent the summer
Taking all of the blame
for the city
from pain comes pity
Kirsty MacColl – Soho Square
And I’ll do anything but please don’t hurt me
Just kiss me quick ‘cos it’s my birthday
And I feel so small I don’t know why but no I’m not too old to cry
Sugarcubes – Birthday
Threads worms on a string
Keeps spiders in her pocket
Collects fly wings in a jar
Scrubs horse flies
And pinches them on a line
Concrete Blonde – Happy Birthday
Neon in the window
Sirens far away
News on the radio happy birthday
Happy birthday, happy birthday
Well, if we can have Clergy Corner, we might as well invite the big man / flying spaghetti monster along.
Stevie Wonder – “Have a Talk With God”
I have Giles Smith to thank for my appreciation of the greatness that is Stevie Wonder’s Songs in the Key of Life. His espousing of its many virtues in his wonderful book “Lost in Music” led me, at a time when I was more firmly indified than tody, to pastures green, wonderful, and utterly magnificent: few songs can claim to even one tenth of the beauty of “As”, or the joy of “Sir Duke”. Songs in the Key of Life is Wonder’s joint-highest charting album in the UK, spending three weeks at number two and only being kept from the top spot by a K-Tel compilation (Soul Motion) and Bert Weedon’s 22 Golden Guitar Greats.
Super Furry Animals – “God! Show Me Magic”
This single by SFA, their second, reached #33 in 1996. The video features a cameo from Welsh actor Rhys Ifans, who was briefly the band’s lead singer in the days before they released any records.
Ida Maria – “Oh My God”
“Oh My God” failed to chart on its original UK release in 2007, and only reached #85 the second time round in 2009. Doing my research (diligent as ever) I was pleased to find a few other Ida Maria videos up on Youtube with pretty healthy numbers of views, and more singles and albums than I thought she’d recorded. I was also feeling a little guilty for letting her slip from my mind after this one hectic, climactic blast of energy.
Faithless – “God is a DJ”
Did I ever tell you the one about how even though it’s widely known that this isn’t really my kind of thing (or at least wasn’t) I saw Faithless on their farewell tour, and even had some sort of weird priority ticket which allowed me to stand right up front? (And it really was weird – either they didn’t sell as many of these tickets as they’d hoped, or they assumed we’d all need way more room in which to express ourselves, which in my case is not much since I don’t really dance that much at a gig. Not in the actual moving about sense of the word, at any rate).
It was a pretty awesome gig as it turns out, even if they have slightly undermined the whole knowing when the time is right to call it a day thing by performing more live dates in 2015.
The Sundays – “God Made Me”
And surely he did, Harriet. Especially your voice.
Moose – “Play God”
The opening track from Moose’s third album Live a Little, Love a Lot, “Play God” is typical of the delightful, tuneful and musical scope and flourish that the former inventors of shoegazing (in as much as the term was coined at one of their early gigs) developed over the course of a career that was as marked by record label callousness as it was by popular indifference. If you don’t know them already, I can’t recommend them highly enough – work your way through their catalogue chronologically for guaranteed happiness.
Bank Holidays were first formally legislated back in 1871, when four days in the calendar were designated to give everyone a day off work so they could instead spend it on the road complaining about everyone else on the road / being sick or arguing in the back / hosting a successful barbeque under an umbrella / being ripped off at the seaside. Four, not six, by the way, because Good Friday and Christmas Day were considered so special they didn’t merit explicit mention.
Not much has changed since then, except that this weekend’s time off for good behaviour has been moved back from its original position at the start of August to give the illusion of summer lasting a bit longer than it actually does.
Blur – “Bank Holiday”
Bank Holiday comes six times a year
Days of Enjoyment to which everyone cheers!
Let’s get the most obvious pick out of the way already, shall we? Here are the Blur boys giving it the no holds barred barrelling along hyper live treatment. Over almost as quickly as a real bank holiday.
Black Box Recorder – “The English Motorway System”
The English Motorway system is beautiful and strange
It’s been there forever and it’s never going to change
It eliminates all diversions, it eliminates all emotions
There are, I would say, some emotions that are actually quite heightened by our “M” roads, few of them positive.
Travis – “Why Does It Always Rain on Me?”
Console yourself while you’re stuck on the M6 somewhere (could be anywhere – if you’re on the M6, chances are you’re in a queue wherever you are, wherever you’re trying to get to): at least you’re inside looking out at the grey skies, smiling at the convertible driver wondering when he needs to make a break for the hard shoulder to get the top up and avoid a soaking. At least you’re not eating a soggy ice-cream and pretending to have a good time.
Arab Strap – The First Big Weekend
Technically, this is all wrong for an August bank holiday weekend selection, as it’s clearly the wrong end of the season altogether. But just flip it and reverse it in your mind and take it as a paean to the final blow-out before the series business of Autumn gets underway. Also bear in mind a tagline from the 199 movie Go – “A weekend wasted is never a wasted weekend”.
Dodgy – Staying Out For The Summer
Because they didn’t always take themselves too seriously, Dodgy perhaps didn’t always get the credit they deserved as craftsmen of fine pop singles. Bit Britpoppy, some felt. Videos like this one, for “Staying Out For The Summer”, didn’t exactly help. Damn fine tune, mind.
Catchers – Summer is Nearly Over
Found on the B side of their 1994 single “Cotton Dress” and on the Shifting EP, Summer is Nearly Over find Catchers at their lilting, duetting best, with Dale Grundle and Alice Lemon lamenting the end of the season over a sweet acoustic melody. Enjoy the last days of summer, folks!
Football, eh? Mid-August and already we’re two games into the new league campaign. It just starts earlier and earlier each year, doesn’t it? Love it or loathe it, you can’t always avoid it. Not even here, I’m afraid. Luckily you don’t have to give a hoot about the beautiful game to admire these songs about footballers and their profession.
Half Man Half Biscuit – All I Want For Christmas Is A Dukla Prague Away Kit
Up first, a tale of childhood days spent on games with high set-up overheads to negotiate and not all that much actual game to be played. I wasn’t that into Scalextric, but Subbuteo was another matter entirely. I wasn’t completely accessory-crazy, although I did have the scoreboard and some match officials to provide a bit of match-day atmosphere.
It was written in 1983 in order to celebrate the name of one of those mysterious European football teams who popped up against our British sides every now and again. It was originally intended for the club to be Ujpesti Dosza, but this didn’t seem to scan with the music as well as the Czech team and so the strip of the “somewhat unpopular crack army unit” was awarded the dubious honour.Nigel Blackwell
Googling for old Subbuteo kits and boxes has brought on some pretty severe feelings of nostalgia, and to think it so nearly referenced a Hungarian team just makes this the perfect way to start this set of picks.
Super Furry Animals – The Man Don’t Give A F**k
Unless you were a Reading or Cardiff fan in the mid to late 1970s, Robin Friday probably was “the greatest footballer you never saw”. His talent and charisma led him to be voted top cult hero at both clubs, and is frequently cited as Reading’s best ever player. In 1996, Super Furry Animals released this single and dedicated it to Friday, and his stand against the man. A 23-minute long live version, released in 2000, is said to be the sweariest single of all time.
Kirsty MacColl – England 2 Columbia 0
From the bard of Barking to an artist who had a top 10 hit in 1984 with a cover of his track “A New England”. A little less known than that enduring classic is this track, taken from her final album Tropical Brainstorm, released in March 2000, just nine months before MacColl’s tragic death in Mexico. Not at all about football, in fact, the song acerbically tells the tale of a date with the kind of lying treacherous toad who gives all us decent chaps a bad name.
Billy Bragg – God’s Footballer
A bright, shining contrast to Robin Friday can be found in Wolverhampton Wanderers and England Under-23 striker Peter Knowles. In 1969 he used his post-season break to represent Kansas City in a promotional league. While there he became a Jehovah’s Witness; on his return he announced he had lost his desire for the game, and retired a short way into the 69-70 season. In 1991 Billy Bragg told his story in this beautiful orchestral track, which appears on his album Don’t Try This At Home
Sultans of Ping FC – Give Him a Ball and a Yard of Grass
John Robertson was a very unattractive young man. If one day, I felt a bit off colour, I would sit next to him. I was bloody Errol Flynn in comparison. But give him a ball and a yard of grass, and he was an artist, the Picasso of our game.Brian Clough
Confusingly, it is claimed that the track containing this Cloughie quote, by Cork’s knitwear-losing Sultans of Ping FC, was in fact a tribute to his son Nigel. Certainly, from Clough’s quote it’s hard to see Robertson as “a nice young man, with a lovely smile”…
New Order – World in Motion
Well it is the greatest football song ever recorded, despite, or possibly because of, John Barnes.