Monday, June 29, 2020

Too Much Of A Good Thing?

Here we are, half-way through the year already. Amazing how the time flies when you're under house arrest. This is part two in what should be a four-part series, in which I explain the provenance of all those impenetrable, obscure and mystifying post titles I insist on using. That'd be the ones where, when I look at them a year later, trying to find something I know I wrote, I have absolutely no idea what any of the posts are about. (True story!)

Let's get the rubric out of the way first. Otherwise all these colors and sizes and fonts won't mean anything to anyone. (Cue hollow, ironic laughter). It's the same as last time but to save you a click...

Full song titles used as post titles (even if altered)  - Large, Bold , Green
Quotes from lyrics used as titles (even if altered) - Large, Bold, Blue
Original titles from which quotes were drawn - Small, Italic, Bold, Green
All other music - Small, Italic, Green

Every source-song is included in an official studio version or promo video, either by a link in the post title, the source title or as a pull-out video. Other versions may also be linked. All links should be unique unless there is literally only one extant version. Or I forgot or messed up. It's a very long post...

By sheer chance, the period covered aligns almost exactly with the time I've spent in lockdown. So far, that is. I'm still on furlough. And what a great opportunity to discover new music it should have been. Only somehow things didn't turn out that way.

I blame Amazon Prime for that. Instead of scouring YouTube for new tunes late at night, like I used to do, I've been watching quality television instead. There's so much of it these days. Who knew? Everyone who hasn't spent the last twenty years with their head stuck in an MMORPG, I imagine. Also, Pocket Camp hasn't helped. Level 29 now and every minute stolen from time I could have spent discovering the next Polly Scattergood. (Albeit a decade after everybody else, as usual).

If it wasn't for the weird rabbit holes some of these post titles led me down I'd hardly have made any new discoveries at all, which is probably why I've been leaning on kinda heavily for titles. That, and eight years of this have depleted my natural resources just a tad. It's another way to find new stuff, though, so it's all good.

Enough with the introductions already. Play something!

All Hail The King Of The Cats - The Simpsons - If this was the radio show I so obviously wish it was, I would most certainly not open with that! Chronological order sucks, sometimes. It's from the Itchy and Scratchy musical, proving postmodern metatextuality never goes out of style. Oh, wait...

Kitty, Kitty, Please Come Here - She Walks On Me - Hole - I was never much of a Nirvana fan but I always liked Hole. This is particularly Onoesque in places. Seems appropriate, somehow. Can't think why.

Three Months Later - Polyaneurism - Of Montreal - I used to work with someone who was keen on this lot. He had specific yet eclectic tastes. He liked a particular strand of very self-conscious, layered, intellectual North American indie and a barrel-load of vintage country. That was mostly what he'd play. It was back when I worked in an obscure, out-of-the-way part of the building, somewhere we could listen to music all day, as loud as we liked, and we did. I still see him now and again. Interesting fellow.  He introduced me to Sufjan Stevens, Neutral Milk Hotel and Hank Williams. And Of Montreal, of course. Happy days, except when I had to listen to Frank Zappa.

Lost In The Mail - Ricky Hill & Lil Peep -   One of those generic phrases I love so much. Once I had the title I looked for songs that used it. There weren't many and this was the best. Wish I'd paid more attention to Lil Peep when he was alive, now.

Many Worlds TheoryB. B. Palmer - This just can't be explained. You search for quantum physics and this is what you get. Just some guy on his porch. It's why the internet exists and why I love it so much. 

All Your Well-Learned PolitesseSympathy For The Devil - The Rolling Stones - Where would you start? I could do a whole post just on covers of this one song. There must be about a million of them including an insane version by Rickie Lee Jones that I find highly entertaining. Samantha Fish takes a more traditional run at it. There's even an homage, kinda, called  A Good Idea At the Time, by someone called OK Go. They've even made a video. It's... interesting.

Let's Address Some Topics - Kids See Ghosts - Kids See Ghosts - Haunting. Appropriately.  It's from a Kanye West and Kid Cudi collab that made  #2 on the Billboard chart in 2018. I must have missed it. There's an animated TV show on the way. I'll try not to miss that.

Like An Animal Crossing Or, If You Will, A Crossing For Animals -  
Feral Love - Chelsea Wolfe and Crossing For Wildlife - The Gentleman - I couldn't choose between these two so I went with both for an unwieldy and inelegant mish-mash of a title, which has now become an equally inelegant sprawl of an entry. I knew the title wasn't working but I was too stubborn to back down. I don't seem to have learned much from the experience, either. The two videos make for something of a goth-off, with Chelsea Wolfe surprisingly outgothed for once. The Gentleman comes on like a sinister Eastern European time-traveler, stopping by on his way back from the 'eighties with a troupe of undead red-heads he abducted from the set of Picnic at Hanging Rock. Wouldn't want to meet any of them on a dark night, frankly.

Let's Go Jumpin' - Wild Rabbits - Noriyuki Makihara - A Japanese pop star about whom I know nothing but what it says in his wikipedia entry. What the song has to do with rabbits I have absolutely no idea.

Oh Please, Can't I Be You? Your Personality's So Great - N.Y. Stars - Lou Reed - From Sally Can't Dance, an album I bought the year it came out, 1974. It was reviled at the time but I always liked it and it sounds even better now. This is a post where I had the title in mind before I went to look it up. The first half, anyway, because I was originally going to use the obvious Cure number. When I found Lou's quote it felt like it was meant to be. (I broke my rule on the links, by the way. One of them is Lou, the other's a cover by David Furtado. You'd be hard put to say which, I bet).

On A Saturday Night At Home - Shit Kid - Video included in the original post otherwise I'd pull it out here. She makes amazing videos.

Something To Do - Kerosene - Big Black - One of the greatest rock songs ever recorded. I had this on a mix tape a good friend made for me in the '80s. There were no sleeve notes and it was years before I found out who it was by. I suppose I could just have asked him. It was even longer before I found out what it was about. I suppose I could just have listened to the words. There's also an amazing cover by St. Vincent, who I clearly need to start paying much closer attention to.

Television Internet - Television and Internet - Monkey Pilot - 猴子飞行员 - Is he rocking that shorts-and-cowboy-hat combo or does he just look like your drunken uncle at the post-wedding disco? The official video is, as we liked to say in the 90s, well dodgy.

The Fox And The Rabbit - Babe, I'm on Fire - Nick Cave - Nearly a quarter of an hour of Nick Cave riding the riff while a bunch of his luvved-up pals rifle through the dressing-up box. How does he remember all the words?

Stuck Like A Cowboy  - Cowboy - The Sugarcubes -  John Peel used to play The Sugarcubes a lot before Bjork became famous. I didn't like them then and they don't sound any better now. It's that bloke, isn't it? You just want him to shut up and let Bjork sing. No wonder she went solo.

Draft Resister - Steppenwolf - This is the version I know, from the Steppenwolf Live album, which I played to death when I was about fourteen. I still have it somewhere. I bought Herman Hesse's Steppenwolf around the same time. I 've probably still got that, too. I think I thought it was some kind of fantasy/horror novel. Maybe it is. I got about half way through, put it down and never picked it up again.

By All Accounts - A Nervous Tic Motion of The Head To The Left - Andrew Bird - That's some title for a song I only found by searching for the blandest phrase imagineable. I have no idea what style or genre it's meant to be but it's a bit of a grower. Also, he seems to be a pal of St Vincent. Small world.

Call Of The West - Wall of Voodoo - I toyed with the idea of calling this one "I'm Flyin' High On A Barrel In The Sky" after Westworld's Sonic Boom Boy, which seemed to work in so many ways but in the end I did that thing writers are supposed to do and killed it because I liked it too much. Still not sure about that. I was very happy to bring Wall of Voodoo off the bench, though. They're somewhat underrated, I feel. Their louche, plangent sound reminds me of a sober version of The Gun Club, if such a thing were possible. Stan Ridgeway can turn a phrase, too.

(There's No) Planning In ShadowlandsShadowland - Youth Group - A rich, strange, drugged-up live version featuring Sarah Kelly from The Red Sun Band. Don't click that last link if you're scared of spiders. Seriously, just... don't, okay?

On With The Show - Valkyrie - Pavlov's Dog - One of my all-time faves. Certainly didn't need to look this one up.

Block Rockin' Beats - Chemical Brothers - Or this. I used to turn the radio up loud when this came on.

Common People - Pulp - Jarvis was one of the faces of the nineties, when Pulp became an overnight success after ten years trying. They were arguably even better after ten more. He's slipped comfortably into middle age now, with his radio documentaries and his DJing. Quite the raconteur. Still making interesting music, too, even if he is beginning to sound disturbingly like Leonard Cohen.

Smashed Blocked - John's Children -This is a title I've had at the back of my mind for decades. It popped out when I wrote the post. They were a legendary prototype supergroup, in the vein of The London SS , although John's Children did at least get to make some records. Listening to it now, I'm not surprised they didn't trouble the charts. The older I get, the more I hear, the more I realize how deeply difficult so much "popular" music wants to be.

Five To Conquer - J. Tailor - Destroyer - Who turn out to be a vehicle for Daniel Bejar of The New Pornographers, another band my old work colleague introduced me to. I had real trouble working out what this one was called. It does indeed seem to think its name is "J. Tailor", which is a hell of a thing to call a song. Outsider art leanings, maybe, but as the relatively smooth KEXP footage suggests, there's  something more formal going on here.

More Than This - Roxy Music - Although orders of magnitude less formal than this. The first three Roxy albums are among the best ever recorded by anyone but after that they rapidly descend into self-parody (or global commercial success -  same thing, really). I never liked the original much but this cover by Data isn't bad and Susanna Hoffs and Mathew Sweet can make anything sound, well, passable at least.

Fifteen Again - Monster - Kate Miller-Heidke - I'd never heard of her but she represented Australia at Eurovison in Israel, a sentence that ought to have no semantic value but actually does. The staging for that performance is... well, I wouldn't have wanted to be the Health and Safety officer who signed off on it. Also, she covers Eminem, just like Tori Amos. Okay, not exactly like Tori Amos...

The Numbers Game - Thievery Corporation - Great name, great sound, great video. Although if I tell you it sounds uncannily like Motorhead's Ace of Spades, funked up and slowed to a crawl you'll never be able to hear it the same way again.

Tankies Are People Too - The String-Bo String Duo - Probably the oddest track in this collection and that's saying something. I was looking for songs with the word "tank" in. They turned out to be in surprisingly short supply, until I stumbled on this. "Tankie" is "a pejorative reference to hard-line, pro-Soviet members of the Communist Party of Great Britain", apparently. Who knew?

I'm A Tiger - Lulu - I loved this when I was about ten years old. I quite like it now, if I'm being honest...

Because I Said So! - In The House - RunDMC - Talking of being honest, I'll come clean about this one. I'd love to have everyone believe I was thinking of RunDMC, who I do like a lot, when I came up with this, but really it was Billie Piper I had in mind. Only it turns out her bubblegum #1 was called "Because We Want To". I'd mis-remembered it. Shocker! I'd also totally forgotten the video opens with Billie being beamed down from a spaceship. I wonder if that had anything to do with her getting the role of Rose in Dr. Who a couple of years later?

Another Lesson Learned - Elizabeth Taylor - Claire Maguire - I love this so much. Yes, I know it owes a huge debt to Lana but if you're going to be inspired then take your inspiration from the best. And this is inspired, make no doubt about that.

Living On Nuts And Berries - Animals - Talking Heads - I've been re-discovering Talking Heads recently. I was an early adopter. Bought their first album on import, saw them on their first U.K. tour in, I guess, 1977. I kept faith until Remain In Light, by when there scarcely seemed to be any point. Not really paid much attention since, until Pitchfork did a re-review of the first five albums earlier this year and I remembered what I liked about them.

Trigger Happy? - Lloyd Cole - Unlike David Byrne, I've never broken faith with Lloyd. I've bought every album he's ever made (bar a few of the collections). I imagine I'll keep on until either he stops making them or I'm not around to know. He's aging well, too, the bastard.

Busy Making Progress - This is a weird one. When I was a young teenager, haunting the second-hand record stores, I saw this album a thousand times. I always remembered the title, which is how I came to use it here, but I never knew what it was until now. Not that there's much to know. It was some kind of benefit album for the Hare Krishna movement, it seems. I listened to a little bit of it on YouTube. I wouldn't bother, if I was you.

Keep Moving Don't Move - Kate Tempest - Can't say I'm much of a fan.

Harvest For The World - Isley Brothers - There were a couple of Isley Brothers tracks that obsessed me when I was about seventeen but this wasn't one of them. I know it mostly from the archetypally '80s Style Council cover. It was Summer Breeze that haunted me, then. Still does if I'm careless enough to let it.

Instance Karma - Instant Karma - John Lennon and the Plastic Ono Band - Here he is again, the Modfather himself. I warm to him more and more as the years roll by. The opposite with Lennon, but his original is one of the better things he left us. I even like the Duran Duran version but you never heard me say so. Admit something like that, no-one's going to listen to anything you have to say, ever again.

Who Stole The Cookie? - Who Stole the Cookie from the Cookie Jar? - The Jaynettes - Thirty seconds with this and you're going to have it in your head all day, I guarantee it. I count myself fairly well up on sixties girl groups, at least for someone who actually leaves the house once in a while, but The Jaynettes were new to me. There's an interesting controversy surrounding their excellent Sally Go Round The Roses that's well worth delving into but I'm saving that for another post.

Pale Lilac Snow - Pale Snow - Suede -An auto-tuned Brett Anderson, something you don't hear every day.

Don't Get Weird On Me Babe - Don't Get Weird - Lloyd Cole - Lloyd, doing his best Lou Reed impression, on a demo from a collection of tracks he laid down while he was living in New York, trying to turn himself into a rock star. That didn't work so he turned himself into a folk singer instead. If you ask me, that didn't work so well either. He still sounds like Lloyd Cole, which ought to be enough for anybody.

New You - My Bloody Valentine - MBV are one of those bands I feel I should know a lot better than I do. They were a major influence on lots of people I liked but somehow I never picked up on them at the time. Unlike Stereolab, who I also mysteriously skipped, I haven't really made much of an effort to rectify the error since, either.

I Recommend To You - Fruits and Vegetables - Shonen Knife -Another band I used to hear all the time on the Peel show. I didn't pay them much mind then but I really like them now. I find there are a lot of bands I like better when I can see them as well as hear them.

Lost In Daydreams, Forgotten By Time - The Flower Lady and her Assistant - The Seeds - A little psychedelia can go a long way, I find, but you can never have too much of The Seeds. I love their sheer insistence. There's a relentless quality to everything they do. This is self-evidently the same band that did Pushin' Too Hard and Can't Seem To Make You Mine but just for once they sound a little more reflective, less on edge. Different drug regime, perhaps.

Well, Did You Evah? - Iggy Pop and Deborah Harry - Recorded for an AIDS benefit album. Video directed by Alex Cox. Iggy with his hand full of ants, Debbie with a boa constrictor. The actual song starts at 1.28. Stay for the coda. It's in color and it's worth it.

Now The Drizzle - Everything I Cannot See - Charlotte Gainsbourg and Air - Doesn't that keyboard remind you of Mike Garson on Lady Grinning Soul ? I played the skin off this when it came out. I need to hear the whole album now.

Increase The Population - Make a Baby with Me - The Sprites - Forty-seven views! C'mon, it deserves at least fifty!

Cake/NotCake - Cake - Lily Allen - It makes you happy just to hear her voice. Well, it damn well should.

Numbers Don't Lie - Tom Ford - Jay-Z - First Kanye, now Jay-Z. I surprise myself, sometimes. Although if you click the link it's actually a cover because the original has since been set to "Private" and all the other versions are live takes you can't really hear.

Flying Easy - Donny Hathaway - If this was any smoother it would slide down the back of your speakers and melt into your shag-pile.

Four Years Later - It Gets Better - Rex Orange County - I've liked everything I've heard by Rex. He usually sounds chipper but this? There's a loss there, somehow. It fills a room.

I Like This Place, It's (Not) A Zoo - Portia - Throwing Muses -I'd have saved this for My Time At Portia, if I'd been psychic.

Don't I Know You? - Touch Me - The Isley Brothers - What, them again?


My Art Is Better Than Your Art - My Art - Le Tigre - The video was shot not a dozen miles from where I'm sitting now. I'd like to say I should have been there but I'd stopped going to gigs about five years before. Also, in 2004 I'd never heard Le Tigre. Didn't know who they were until a couple of years ago. I'm an idiot, sometimes.

The Way You Wear Your Hat - They Can't Take That Away From Me - Everyone under the sun has had a go at this. I don't even know who did the "original". John Coltrane dismantles it beautifully but I think I'll go with The Muppets. They really know how to give a song a kicking.

Catching Clouds - Zillion Eyes - Starlight Mints - I love the off-kilter keyboards on this  and the way the keyboard-player pecks at them. Candida from Pulp plays that way. You can see her doing it, in the most extreme fashion, in the Glastonbury performance of Common People above. I thought it was stagecraft but it's not. She's had rheumatoid arthritis since she was sixteen. Candida, that is. I don't know why the Starlight Mints keyboardist plays that way. I'm just glad she does.

While You Were Sleeping - Elvis Perkins - I thought he must've collated Elvis Presley and Carl Perkins to get his name but no, he's Anthony Perkins' son and Elvis is what Tony and his mother chose to call him.

Sunday So Far Away - I ummed and aahed about whether to include this. It's not a song, it's a movie I misremembered slightly. It's actually called Sunday Too Far Away. I have vague memories of watching it on tv one rainy afternoon in the '80s. In as much as I remember anything about it at all, I recall it being hard going, in the way of much of the Australian New Wave. It's on YouTube in full if you want to check it out.

Gift Horse - Black Box Recorder - As I may have mentioned, I own all of their albums. Also several by Luke Haines' previous band, The Auteurs and most of his solo stuff. I've also read his excellent memoir, Bad Vibes, reviewed for The Guardian by another of my '90s favorites, Louise Wener from Sleeper, whose novel The Big Blind I finished only last week. I've read her Britpop memoir, Just for One Day, too. Everything is connected, dontcha know? At least, everything in Britpop.

Staying In Is The New Going Out - The Spells - From 2016, when it probably seemed like an hilaaaaaarious idea.

A Thousand Words - If I Said - The Darling Buds - One of my favorite tracks by one of my favorite bands of all time. So underrated.

Lost In The Mail - House Detective - Fionn Regan - Highway 61 Revisited, revisited!

Workshy - The Fabulous Poodles - There's really no excuse for the Fab Poos. I saw them play in a deconsecrated church less than two miles from where I'm sitting, although at the time (the 1970s) I wasn't even living in the same city. I'm quite shocked how well I remember it. They really don't deserve to be remembered that well. If at all.

Who'll Be Your Mercenary? - Mercenary - Crystal Castles - Crunchy! For some reason I always expect Crystal Castles to be a jangle-pop band. I make the same mistake with MGMT. I think I must have read some article about the wave of New York bands that included them and Vivian Girls and The Pains of Being Pure at Heart and assumed they all sounded the same.

Share The Ride - The Black Crowes - There's being influenced by The Rolling Stones, there's being a Rolling Stones covers band and then there's being The Black Crowes. Unless maybe they think they're The Faces. Hard to tell.

Secret Agents - The Last of the Secret Agents - Nancy Sinatra - The more I see and hear, the better I think she was, but even Nancy can't dance in a swivel chair. Great choice of cover for The Revillos. Fay and Eugene always were canny.

The Electro-Skys Of The New World - Spiders and Flies - Strangelove - I don't suppose anyone remembers Strangelove although there was a lot of record company money riding on them at one time. I saw them at the Ashton Court Festival once, or I think I did. Hard to be sure. The peculiar pluralization of "sky" is taken directly from, who probably got it wrong.

It's About Time - Ruby Velle and the Soulphonics Or you could have The Beach Boys. Yet another generic phrase that dozens of songs have used. I didn't have anything specific in mind.

Count To One Hundred - Long Distance Runaround - Yes -  This one, though, I sourced from not one but two tracks, both of which I own and both of which I like. Jon Anderson wonders "Did we really count to one hundred?" in something that's almost a conventional love song by Yes's standards, while Television Personalities' typically bleak advice in You'll Have To Scream Louder is "Count to one hundred and hope you don't get killed". 

Making Plans -   Post World War Two Blues - Al Stewart - I'd be lying if I said I didn't think of  XTC's Making Plans For Nigel first. I was planning on using the Nouvelle Vague cover because they make almost all songs better, although in this case their interpretation cleaves a lot closer to the original than you'd expect. But then I remembered Al Stewart and his line "Some of these things slip through your hands  / And there's no good talking or making plans". It seemed like a perfect fit.

That's A Big Bag - Run Daddy Run - Fun Lovin' Criminals - FLC never really fulfilled the promise of their excellent debut album. I always thought they looked like they were enjoying themselves far too much to care. I could do a whole post on "what's in the big bag" songs". In this case it's money. It's usually either that or drugs...

Ethereal Message - Hex - Long before I began trawling the internet for inspiration I used to rummage through record store bargain bins, hoping for miracles. Sometimes they happened. I must have owned the CD for twenty years, listened to it scores of times, before I found out who made it. Sometimes cited as a precursor of trip-hop, its a collab between "Donnette Thayer (formerly of Game Theory) and producer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Steve Kilbey (bassist and principal vocalist for The Church)". That's a direct quote from their Bandcamp page. Nice to see they're both keeping busy.

Familiar Feelings - Chamber of Hellos - Wire Train - "New Wave" was always taken much more seriously as a concept in the States than it ever was over here. I remember mostly using it with derision. The joke's on us, though. The clean, limber tone has lasted well.

Do The Duck - The Duck - Jackie Lee -From the golden age of dance crazes. I knew there had to be one called "The Duck" and there was.

And there we must leave it. It's starting to look as though even a quarterly turnaround is too long. There are over one hundred and fifty links to performances or recordings in this post. I loved finding them all but it's taken me most of a week to put it al together and I know full most readers won't even glance at the embedded videos, let alone click through the links.

If I'm going to carry on using this many references in titles, which I probably am, I might start doing a monthly round-up. That would be a lot more manageable. And then I could maybe do an end-of-year Best Of.

That's a plan.


  1. As we have reached the midway point of the year 2020, there is a sigh of relief as we are going through the toughest of times. Some of the best singers and artists with the capability to Bring Music to Life are the only people who have been holding us up.


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