The final two ties of the last round were good ones

The Wedding Present 16  Pulp 19
Lightning Seeds 13 Lloyd Cole & The Commotions 23

That’s us down to the final eight teams, and from now on it’s just one match up per week so that you can have as much time as you like, or need, to deliberate.  I’m also pleased to say that jimdoes is taking over responsibility for penning the quarter final ties over the next four Saturdays.  I’ve kind of exhausted my ideas on how to present the match-ups and he’s come up with something a bit different…..

Before jimdoes turns his attention to the first tie, I want to announce that The Smiths have been reinstated.  The original decision wasn’t an easy one and it was made with a heavy heart, thinking that the chances of Marr, Rourke and Joyce would be ruined by the absence of the singer.  Morrissey has been absent from the past two ties, and in most football tournaments, it is a two match ban which is applied for misedemeanours, and so it feels right that the Mancs have a full squad restored.  They are likely to need it….and with that comment I’m handing over to jimdoes to guide you through this week’s match-up.


I’m going to try something a little different with the quarter finals – JC has been great at sharing routes to the quarter finals, so we all know what perilously difficult journeys our teams have faced. I’m not even going to make any more tenacious links to football – most of the bands left are old favourites that I’m sure everyone likes and has history with in some way – and that’s what I’m going to talk about for each of the match ups – my history with each band.


Match 1

The Smiths v Billy Bragg

Still Ill (from The Smiths, 1984) v Levi Stubbs’ Tears (from Talking With The Taxman About Poetry, 1986)

Her name was Amanda – she was the first person to ever play me the Smiths and she was the first girl I ever kissed. I was a little late coming to both if I’m honest but I was certainly enthusiastic. Anyway, The Queen Is Dead had just come out (I’d almost bought Hatful of Hollow a few years earlier but I got a signed (!) Thompson Twins album from HMV instead) – and we’d listen to it in her bedroom while I hoped that her parents wouldn’t come home. I guess it was Morrissey that told me that Some Girls are Bigger Than Others as I didn’t have anything to compare Amanda’s charms to. We went to see them live a couple of times as I came to grips with their back catalogue – the first time I heard Still Ill was at Brixton Academy. Amanda and I split up around the time that Strangeways came out and The Smiths split. The two events were unconnected – it was a fairly short-lived romance but my love for the Smiths continued. I wore my t-shirt with pride (the Shoplifters Elvis one) and my next two girlfriends were the result of conversations at parties while I was wearing it. At the time they were my favourite EVER band – but I haven’t listened to an album all the way through in years.

Amanda and I would also listen to Billy Bragg in her room – Talking To The Taxman About Poetry. It’s safe to say that Billy Bragg is no Barry White but it worked for us. I first heard Billy Bragg the year before when he appeared on Top Of The Pops singing live (which was unheard of at the time) – Between The Wars – it was such a contrast to my usual Top Of The Pops diet of chart hits from the mid 80s. I went out and bought the single (pay no more than one pound and twenty-five pence) and used to play it on the stereo in my living room to annoy my parents. I didn’t have my own record player till I was 18 so the only place I could listen to music was the living room, mostly on headphones – always competing with my sister and her Whitney Houston albums. Shortly after this I was besotted with Kirsty MacColl when I heard A New England – not realising at first that this was a cover version. Anyway, Billy Bragg has been one of those singers that’s always been there, someone to sing along to but not someone I listen to all that often now. I only got to see him for the first time a few years ago at Glastonbury and he didn’t let me down playing Levi Stubbs Tears during his set.

Happy deliberating.  Votes must be in by Friday 8 June at 10pm.


41 thoughts on “BONUS SERIES : THE ICA WORLD CUP : ROUND 5 (Part 1)

  1. Levi Stubbs’ Tear please. First came across this on a live Triple J [an Australian indie/youth radio station] recording in the 90s (ref: Triple J – Live At The Wireless Volume 2) and it happily drew me immediately into the world of Billy Bragg.

  2. Short version: Smiths beat Bragg.
    Longer version: Jimdoes’ post and this cup tie remind me about a girl named Veronica. 1985 was The Smiths’ first proper tour of the US. (They played a 7-song set at Danceteria New Year’s Eve 1983 but Morrissey fell off the stage. Then Mike Joyce got chicken pox and the remaining dates were canceled.) They got to NYC in June and they were absolute heroes, playing in support of the outstanding Meat is Murder LP. Opening the show was…Billy Bragg. So my live introduction to the players in this round came on the same night, at the Beacon Theater. Which is where I also hooked up with Veronica, a beautiful girl whom I thought was very keen on me but, it turned out, was actually after the paisley shirt I had on (which were all the rage for 15 minutes in NYC–ask anybody). I went back to her place and in the morning she asked me if she could keep the shirt until our next date. When I rang her up on the appointed day she told me she couldn’t meet because “I’ve got to go to New Jersey to swap out my winter clothes for summer clothes.” Actually, that’s kind of a creative put down line. I never got that shirt back but it was a stellar concert and a quality if short-lived after party. I feel the same way about the music then as I do now: the full force of the Smiths playing a solid tune properly tops the bill over Bragg, earnest and compelling but still just one guy singing clever lyrics and accompanying himself on sparse electric guitar. It was a good summer, 1985, paisley thief notwithstanding.

  3. It has to be Bragg. Regardless.

    Also it’s usually a three match ban.

    But based on this decision. I think its time we dug out all our old Lost Prophets CD’S just for the sake of the other band members.

  4. Ahh JTFL…I was at Danceteria for NYE 83 and that was an EVENT! It wasn’t just that it was The Smiths, their first time in NYC, but it was THE place to be that NYE.
    I was also at The Beacon…it was pretty much a requirement…and you know what I mean. Bragg really wasn’t of much interest to me at the time – I’m sure I spent half of his set in the lobby with friends. But that night, The Smiths managed to have NYC eating out of the palms of their hands. Morrissey was almost effete. Girls and boys were swooning in the front rows when he shook his ass and filled his back pocket with flowers.

    I would become a Billy Bragg fan in time, but for this tie, there really isn’t any other choice… THE SMITHS.

  5. Morrissey’s spouting of bile and pish is more a high crime than a misdemeanour in my book, but that’s by the by as it would take only RATF or HSIN to rise above the beauty and pathos of Levi Stubbs’ Tears

  6. Billy Bragg. However when he is banned, for appearing on the same bill as the Smiths, please reinstate the Wedding Present

  7. Bragg wins, as Levi Stubbs Tears is one of his (or anybody’s) finest lyrics.
    Difficult to hear Morrissey singing ‘England is mine’ these days without conjuring up sinister meanings.
    I saw Bragg in Madrid once and he played a spirited version of ‘Ask’ as an encore. On the other hand he did a piss-poor version of ‘Jeane’ back in the mid-80s.

  8. Echorich, should have known you’d made the Danceteria gig. Is there ANY legendary show from back in the day you missed in the city?

  9. Billy.
    Maybe I’m a bit older, but I liked the Smiths (a lot) without ever being in love with them the way I was with the Undertones (just got tickets for this summer’s tour).
    Still ill is ok.
    Levi Stubb’s tears is just classic.
    So Billy all the way.

  10. It’s Billy

    Great song

    Didn’t even need the oppositions Oswald Mosley leg tattoo to swing the result

  11. Thank you for letting them play again… but they still lost this game for me.

    Billy – one of his very best.

  12. Bought The Smiths debut LP the day it came out, and to my shame I don’t think I own a single Billy Bragg record aside from the Mermaid Avenue collaborations, but always loved Levi Stubbs Tears and my love for The Smiths waned pretty quickly so: Billy Bragg it is.

    Great write up by jimdoes.

  13. This is really very hard indeed! Two great tunes, but at the end of the day Billy Bragg wins: very (!) closely though …

  14. Bill, for reasons that might become apparent if we ever get round to reviewing that third Bragg album. (Pretty much written, JC – just never sent it to you.)

  15. Yeah…. Well uh … Guess there can’t be a tie in the finals. I’ve been doing this by the songs and not the bands to be fair to the fact that great teams can play badly at times. Certainly really hard choice here but Levi Stubbs wins on the second set of penalty kicks.
    Let’s just get on to giving the cup to the Clash…

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