THE JOY OF (a mixed) SEX (duet) : Couple #8

There was a couple of political references in yesterday’s offering, and I’m keeping them going today.

While I was doing a little bit of research in respect of today’s song, I came across this:-

“Saturday Night Live closed its first episode of the Trump administration with a musical farewell to President Obama. Under a portrait of the 44th President, cast member Cecily Strong sang the perfect song to say goodbye to the outgoing POTUS, the title song to the 1967 film To Sir, With Love.

The parallels were apparent to anyone familiar with the British flick. Sidney Poitier had the starring role as an unemployed black engineer who takes a job teaching an unruly class of white students in London’s East End. By the end of the film he has won over the undisciplined youngsters and has taught them to have self-respect.”

But this wasn’t the first time that this song had been used as part of a tribute to an American president.

The events around the inauguration of Bill Clinton in 1993 encompassed a few unusual happenings, not least a gig at the Washington Convention Center. The youth vote had come out for Clinton and MTV felt the occasion should be marked appropriately. In the end, the MTV Inaugural Ball was added to the official list of such events in the city – there were 11 in total, some of which were very traditional – all in honour of the president, vice-president and their families.

The cast list included Don Henley, En Vogue, Boyz II Men, 10,000 Maniacs and Automatic Baby; the last named comprised Michael Stipe and Mike Mills of R.E.M. and Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr. of U2 and took its name from the two band’s most recent albums Automatic for the People and Achtung Baby.

10,000 Maniacs made use of Stipe’s participation in the event, inviting him to sing on a few numbers, including a cover of the song that had been a #1 hit ion the States back in 1967:-

mp3 : 10,000 Maniacs (feat Michael Stipe) – To Sir, With Love

Stipe and Merchant had performed together previously on a number of occasions, including when they joined Billy Bragg and Cara Tivey to end his set as part of The Big Day in Glasgow in June 1990. Here’s some footage:-

They do make some lovely harmonies don’t they?????

JC

THE JOY OF (a mixed) SEX (duet) : Couple #7

Thom Yorke has a very distinctive voice. It only takes a few words and you know immediately that you’re listening to Radiohead, a solo effort or, very occasionally, a guest contribution. I reckon, for the most part, his voice is perfect for the songs on which he sings; but just occasionally, whether it’s because he buries the delivery with a near-mumble or, at the other extreme, goes effortlessly into OTT mode that he ends up overpowering the work of his bandmates, he ruins things.

As Radiohead became increasingly popular, he found himself much in demand for vocal contributions – for instance, there were three with PJ Harvey on her album Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea (released in 2000), but just two years earlier he had guested on this, helping to provide a band with their sole chart single:-

mp3 : Drugstore – El President

Drugstore were around for much of the 90s, formed in London but with a Brazilian born singer-songwriter in the shape of Isabel Monteiro. The band were one of those who always made for an interesting opening act and so fans of the likes of Radiohead, Tindersticks, Jeff Buckley and The Jesus and Mary Chain would have had opportunities to catch them.

El President was the first single to be lifted from their second album, White Magic for Lovers. It was written by Monteiro as a tribute to Salvador Allende, whose four decades of political involvement in Chilean politics had seen him become president in 1970 (elected in a run-off by Congress as none of the three candidates has won any overall majority) but just three years later he had committed suicide rather than give in to a military coup. It was a coup supported by the CIA, which in itself was no surprise given that Allende was a committed Marxist and the Cold War was being fought.

I’ll just mention in passing that he was succeeded by General Augusto Pinochet….unarguably one of the worst persecutors of his political opponents in the 20th Century.

Drugstore faded off the scene just after the turn of the century, but had a low-key but critically successful reunion for a few years from 2009 onwards, before the singer relocated to her home city of Sao Paulo in 2015.

JC

THE JOY OF (a mixed) SEX (duet) : Couple #6

More duets this week as it’s another when I’m busy….hope you don’t mind.

The minute I finished writing up the first five postings, I slapped my forehead for missing out today’s offering. I immediately thought about doing a piece as a stand-alone item but instead will now offer it as the overture for this week:-

mp3 : The Jesus and Mary Chain – Sometimes Always (featuring Hope Sandoval)

A duet from 1994 between the confident and outgoing Jim Reid and the reserved and insular vocalist from acclaimed American alt-combo, Mazzy Star. It’s one that the instinctive reaction should be ‘not a chance this will work’ and yet, after just one listen, such thoughts will be forever banished.

Lyrically, it’s a bit of a strange one as it hints at the way an abusive relationship might pan out.

She : I gave you all I had
I gave you good and bad
I gave but you just threw it back

He : I won’t get on my knees
Don’t make me do that please
I’ve been away but now I’m back

She : Don’t be too sure of that
What makes you sure of that
You went away you can’t come back

He : I walked away from you
I hurt you through and through
Aw honey give me one more chance

She : Aw you’re a lucky son
Lucky son of a gun
You went away, you went away
You went away but now you’re back

He : I got down on my knees
And then I begged you please
I always knew you’d take me back

He’s quite the conniving character isn’t he?

It was actually the first of what has proven to be a number of excellent duets or guest vocals involving Hope Sandoval with the likes of Chemical Brothers, Air, Massive Attack and Mercury Rev.

Sometimes Always reached #22 on its release, which outside of April Skies and Reverence, is the best chart position achieved by any JAMC single.

JC

THE SINGULAR ADVENTURES OF (EARLY) SIMPLE MINDS (Part 9)

Something of a brief interlude this week.

As mentioned before, Arista Records still held the rights to the back catalogue of Simple Minds and having looked with some envy at the sales generated by Sons and Fascination/Sister Feelings Call, the decision was taken to have the ultimate of cash-in with the release, in February 1982, of the compilation album Celebration, ten tracks lifted, for the most part, from the first three studio albums.

The album even came with a very cheeky peel-off sticker on the front of its sleeve stating it was The Very Best of Simple Minds – includes I Travel, Chelsea Girl, Life In A Day’

I Travel was re-issued as a single to promote the album, with previously unreleased live tracks on the b-side of the 7” and 12”. The source of these live recordings was never revealed by Arista, but it is likely they came from the Hammersmith Odeon gig of 25 September 1981; if so, it shows that Virgin Records, who held the license for the recordings from that gig, were equally as guilty of any accusations of trying to cash-in.

mp3 : Simple Minds – Thirty Frames A Second (live)
mp3 : Simple Minds – I Travel (live)

The single, again, didn’t trouble the charts (which probably came as a relief to the band as they more or less disowned this particular 45 from the word go).

JC

SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SONG : #170 : THE JUST JOANS

From the website of Fika Recordings on which today’s featured band, in 2017, released their first new album in a decade:-

Formed in 2005, The Just Joans have evolved from a shambling two-piece to an accomplished sextet that embrace rivalry and relationship in the vocals of siblings David and Katie Pope.

Once described as ‘the missing link between The Magnetic Fields and The Proclaimers’, the band have used self-awareness and self-deprecation to explore themes of angst, heartbreak and detachment.

From their 2006 debut album Last Tango in Motherwell through a series of successful EPs, to 2012’s compilation Buckfast Bottles In The Rain, the acerbic wit in David Pope’s observational lyrics have helped make the band a firm favourite of the indie-pop scene. Their rise has seen them play a plethora of international festivals, such as Wales Goes Pop, Indiefjords, NYC Popfest, and of course the Indietracks festival, of which they have been long-standing cult favourites since their first appearance in 2008.

The Just Joans are David Pope (vocals and guitar), Katie Pope (vocals), Chris Elkin (lead guitar), Fraser Ford (bass guitar), Doog Cameron (keyboards) and Jason Sweeney (drums).

Doog Cameron (pictured on the right edge of the above photo) actually works in the same office as me.  He’s had to, as a result of him becoming a dad to two young kids in the past few years, take time away from the band. His place has been taken by multi-instrumentalist, Arion Xenos who contributed to this 45 that was released in 2018 and whose work will be heard on an album that is due for release later this year:-

mp3 : The Just Joans – Has Anybody Seen My Boy?

David Pope described the 45 as an attempt at writing a lost 60’s girl group track…if that girl group been from Motherwell.

The b-side, he said, was a direct message to the friends who swanned off to art school and came back 3 months later with dyed hair, a Polaroid camera and a snooty attitude.

mp3 : The Just Joans – Who Does Susan Think She Is?

Two tracks that perfectly sum up what The Just Joans are all about.

JC

TWICE THEY CRACKED THE SINGLES CHARTS

Yup.

I didn’t quite believe my eyes either when I picked up that Dead Kennedys had twice managed to get into UK singles charts, with the second occasion likely getting their name mentioned on the television during a Top of the Pops rundown, albeit I doubt the name of the song was read out!

First up, Kill The Poor enjoyed a three-week run debuting at #52 at the beginning of November 1980, climbing to #49 before falling to #62 and then dropping out of the Top 75.

mp3 : Dead Kennedys – Kill The Poor
mp3 : Dead Kennedys – Insight

Six months later, in May 1981, the follow-up single was released:-

mp3 : Dead Kennedys – Too Drunk To Fuck
mp3 : Dead Kennedys – The Prey

Too Drunk To Fuck entered the charts at #65, eventually climbing to #36 during a six-week stay. Not too shabby for a song that was banned from all radio play and likewise by a number of stores that sold records. It was seemingly the first song with the word fuck in its title to reach the Top 40 in the UK.

Heady times indeed.

JC

THE GRINDERMAN SINGLES (8)

The final single to be released by Grinderman hit the shops featured the blistering opening track from the sophomore album. It was issued in July 2011 on 12″ picture disc:-

mp3 : Grinderman – Mickey Mouse and the Goodbye Man

I always though that the Disney Corporation might have had something to say about the title of this song, but it seems Mr Cave got away with it.

A live version and a very bizarre remix were put on the b-sides.

mp3 : Grinderman – Mickey Mouse And The Goodbye Man (Live At Ce Soir (Ou Jamais!))
mp3 : Grinderman – Mickey Bloody Mouse (Joshua Homme Remix)

The former was recorded as part of a performance for French TV recorded on 27 October 2010. The latter is what happens when you let the frontman from Queens of The Stone Age loose on your work.

JC