Hello. Before we start, a quick geography lesson. Did you know that Sunderland is part of the metropolitan county of Tyne and Wear, a county bordered to the north by Northumberland and to the south by County Durham? Sunderland isn’t, cartographically speaking, in Yorkshire. Some of you may be a little worried about your imminent disqualification from this week’s competition but fear not, nobody is going to be eliminated on a technicality. The whole point of this exercise is to provide you (and me) with a little break from the world. I’m not going to evict anyone from what I consider a safe space for imperfect map-reading skills. Let’s just call this a Yorkshire-and-reasonably-close-to-Yorkshire list and we’ll never speak of it again. After all, what’s thirty miles between friends?
Of course, not all of you could make the top thirty, what with there being more than thirty of you and everything, so I had to eliminate some of you via some method or other. This is how I decided who would be the ones among you who didn’t quite make it to the points this week…
- Trapped in a hopeless battle against fate, doomed to try to find a Tom Waits track to match every category, Adam Farrer was pretty much limited to recommending Waits’ contribution to Gavin Bryars’ Jesus Blood Never Failed Me Yet, an album which is almost impossibly beautiful in all the moments that don’t feature Tom Waits. Compared to the haunted, broken voice of the man who fell through the cracks of society and left, as far as anyone knows, no trace of himself on the world except for the line of song that Bryars looped on his work, Waits can’t help but come across as somebody ‘doing a bit’. “Jesus blood never failed me yet.” Sure, Tom, whatever you say. No points.
- Chris Bissette fell foul of a half-remembered conversation he had with me, years ago, about Terrorvision. I will defend their album How to Make Friends and Influence People, partly because it came along at exactly the right time in my life (browsing through the stock of Sundown Records in Walsall, if you were wondering) and partly because (whether by accident or design) I think it is a really good album. Chris remembered me saying I liked Regular Urban Survivors. I didn’t. I don’t. He recommended Enter Alter Ego. That was a mistake. Memory, eh? It’ll mess with your head.
- Graham Cox will possibly feel hard done by (especially after the whole ‘my letting Sunderland choices go unchecked’ kerfuffle) but I decided his choice of It’s Grim Up North by The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu wasn’t Yorkshire enough to make the top thirty. Innocently, mistakenly, thinking Sunderland is in Yorkshire is one thing, but nominating a song with references to towns in Lancashire seemed a bridge too far for this category. [I’m prepared to let this decision go to a stewards enquiry should Graham be very near the top of the leader board at the end of the season. However, it is worth remembering that the independent stewards will be me.]
- After recovering somewhat from his Let’s Dance choice a fortnight ago, Daniel Carpenter waltzed confidently back into championing songs by blokes-who-should-probably-have-been-told-by-somebody-to-wind-their-necks-in-a-bit by recommending the ugly strainings of Joe Cocker’s cover of With a Little Help from My Friends. Just go to the toilet if you need to, Joe. Jesus. And get some fibre in your diet. Please.
- Fat Roland changed his mind twice this week. First he picked Utah Saints (who we will get to later when we deal with choices that scored points) then LFO (who we will get to later when we deal with choices that scored points) but both times he decided that because somebody else had picked them he had to pick something else. In his (I’m just going to say it) desperate quest to seem edgy and cool, his brain broke down and refused to let him pick obvious electronic masterpieces that he knows by artists such as The Black Dog, Nightmares on Wax or even (via the Mark Bell connection) Björk and instead offered me Age of the Train by International Teachers of Pop, which is… fine. It’s fine.
I had five bonus points to give away this week and I have decided to share them between the six choices that almost, but didn’t quite, make the top thirty. Despite the sledging I have already been guilty of, there weren’t really any bad choices this week but some of you have to be the song recommending Tony Jarretts to the song recommending Colin Jacksons, doomed to just miss out on the gold medal despite your brilliance. You all deserve more than your 0.83 points, so much so that I am going to round them up to one point for each of you. Don’t ever let me hear you say my kindness has limits because it has none.
The six choices (and I am getting to them, honest) included two by a band that, I’m sorry to say, have joined the list of all time classic bands that I don’t really get. Last week it was The Cure, the week before that, New Order. This week, we add Gang of Four to the mix. As always, I apologise for my foibles. A point each to the following people…
- Adrian Slatcher – Gang of Four – I Love a Man in Uniform
- Nick Portnell – Gang of Four – At Home He’s a Tourist
- Dan Edmonds – Luke Haines – Leeds United
- General Zod – The All Seeing I (featuring Tony Christie) – Walk Like a Panther
- Subfuscous – The Mekons – Ghosts of American Astronauts
- Graeme – The Last Shadow Puppets – The Meeting Place
The Top Thirty
I have lumped three choices together at the bottom of the chart, all connected by the presence of Paul Heaton and Dave Hemingway. Donna Morris recommended Happy Hour by The Housemartins, (which I think we can all agree is a banger) Bruno Di Gradi recommended Caravan of Love by The Housemartins (which I think we can all agree is pretty shite when compared to the Isley-Jasper-Isley original) and Tom. recommended Song for Whoever by Beautiful South, a song that my mother has always hated with a passion (which I think we can all agree is quite funny). You all get two points.
James Battisson recommended Young Man Blues by The Who (from the album Live at Leeds). I tend to forget that The Who were a really good band, partly (I guess) because they usually pop up in the news for non-musical reasons, often related to one or more of them being an arsehole in some way or another. They are a band you’d watch them live but you wouldn’t want to be trapped in a lift with any of them. Weirdly, I don’t have an issue with that, so… two points.
I reckon that if you boiled all of 6Music (in one of those big flasks that scientists use with the pipes that catch the evaporating water and move it somewhere else) concentrating it into one noise, that noise would sound like the verse of a Richard Hawley song with a bit of dad banter (very quietly in the background – a joke about Milton Keynes or something like that). As you might be able to tell, I’m not really a fan of either. But even an idiot like me can see that Tonight the Streets are Ours is a little bit lovely. And so, in conclusion, Graham Watt gets three points.
Fat Roland will be doubly annoyed this week. Not only is he not picking up any points, Beth Woodward is for recommending Fitzpleasure by Alt J. Fats doesn’t like Alt J and he ruined them for me a few years ago by astutely pointing out that they are quite boring a lot of the time. But this isn’t about him, this is about Beth and Alt J, and there is very little arguing with the bassline of Fitzpleasure which isn’t boring at all. It is big and whoompy and good, and worth exactly four points.
Henriette Pleiger recommended Lay Back in the Arms of Someone by Smokie, a song which I suspect can be mathematically proven to be bad but one whose schmaltzy charms won me over. We can’t all be late career Scott Walker, howling at the moon. Some people have to write and sing love songs. It isn’t a crime, being nice. Five points.
Cinerama proved to be one of the more popular choices, with three people picking something from their album Disco Volante. Al Kennedy chose Wow and Slugger and Martin SFP Bryant went with Aprés Ski (which is French for after yoghurt, I think). Would I be labelled a prude if I said I found the lyrics of these songs a little… grubby? So be it, if so, I guess. I’m more a ‘true love’ than an ‘ill advised fumble in a Premier Inn in Bournemouth’ sort of person when it comes to song lyrics (and life for that matter). Musically, I liked both songs a lot but, because my internal monologue while listening to them was largely, “Jeez, keep it in your pants, mate,” I can’t go any higher than six points. Sorry.
Nick Rayney recommended Weekend Without Makeup by The Long Blondes (which is another band that I knew by name but hadn’t heard before – and in this case had got confused with the (a bit) similarly named Young Knives who, it turns out, they sound nothing like (obviously, I suppose, when you think about it, what with them being different bands and everything). I liked the song too, which means I have another album to explore when I get an hour or so, which may be when the schools reopen. Seven points.
Having wasted fifteen minutes of my life trying to work out what order to put the next four songs, I have decided to award make them all equal 20th and award them all ten points. They were all new to me and they all won me over a little bit more with each listen. They are I Am Daylights by Songs of Green Pheasant (recommended by William Mallin) Two Cousins by Slow Club (recommended by Lenni Sanders) Burn the Heather by The Lounge Society (recommended by Stephen May) and If Only The Moon Were Up by Field Music (recommended by Benjo). Sorry to lump you all together but be consoled by the facts that a) you are all in very good company and b) ten points is better than eight points, albeit only slightly.
After (uniquely it would seem) noticing Sunderland wasn’t in Yorkshire, Justin Chisnall changed his recommendation from Kenickie to My Girl’s a Yorkshire Girl, a song from 1908 that was written by C.W. Murphy and Dan Lipton. Unfortunately, C.W. Murphy was born in Manchester, so I can’t score the song particularly highly (and it is only the fact that I couldn’t work out where Dan Lipton was from that stopped me disqualifying it entirely).
The song has quite an interesting history, if you are interested. It was quoted in James Joyce’s Ulysses and, due to a misunderstanding at a council meeting in Barnsley in 1937, was briefly attributed to him, an event that sparked off the near-century-long war of words between Ireland and Yorkshire that culminated recently in the Halifax-born Ed Sheeran releasing the absolute hate crime of a song that was Galway Girl. Never listen to rumours, kids. It always ends in tears.
Interestingly, as well as writing My Girl’s a Yorkshire Girl, C.W. Murphy and Dan Lipton also wrote She’s a Lassie from Lancashire, which may be the first time in recorded popular music that a songwriter claimed to have ‘hoes in different area codes’.
Oh yeah, twelve points.
I think at this point I am going to deal with the Pulp choices. It’s a bit of a mixed bag but I’ve put them all together because it means more people get points and nobody gets punished for picking Sheffield: Sex City or anything like that. James Beck and Ben Thomas both picked Common People, Sam Whyte chose Glory Days, Chris *Wear Your Dang Mask* went with Babies and Tom A recommended Sheffield: Sex City. Did my hatred of Sheffield: Sex City (a song where Jarvis overdoes his ooooh-I-slowly-run-my-greasy-hand-up-the-chip-shop-lady’s-polyester-petticoat nonsense if ever there was one) drag the rest of your choices down the chart and limit them to thirteen points? No. I don’t think so. Not really. Not really.
Pulp aficionados will, I’m sure, bristle at the thought of Tasmin Archer’s Sleeping Satellite scoring more points than their choice but, and I can’t put this strongly enough, Tasmin Archer never feels the need to add a two minute spoken word bit to any of her songs where she is all, “ooooh / I put my ear to the wall / and I can hear your penis slapping against her boobs / and the sound of your arse crashing against the welsh dresser that you keep your Charles and Diana Wedding plates on” or anything like that. Or if she does, I haven’t heard about it, which is basically the same thing. Consequently, Em will be getting fourteen points, i.e. one more point than you. Soz and that.
Geisterhaus pulled the ol’ Mick Ronson was from Hull manoeuvre to get a David Bowie song (The Width of a Circle) on the list and I can do nothing but salute him and award him fifteen points for doing so. Nicely played, sir. Nicely played.
Incidentally, have you ever seen the cover of the original American pressing of The Man Who Sold the World? It is hideously ugly. It makes the cover of Earthling look like the cover of Aladdin Sane, or something.
Did you know that before Rihanna there was a Rhianna? I didn’t, but I do now. Her single Oh Baby (recommended by Richard Jones) reached number 18 on the UK charts, which isn’t exactly Umbrella numbers but is a damn sight more impressive than almost any of us will ever manage. It’s a decent track too, worth sixteen points at least*.
*for legal reasons, I would like to pint out it is getting exactly sixteen points.
I think I was with Neal when I saw Fun-Da-Mental live for the first time. It was at the Aston Villa Leisure Centre and they were one of the three support acts for Pop Will Eat Itself (the other two being Ultramarine and Senser, making quite the night out imo). They were absolutely brilliant live, pure energy, and part of that buzz is (inevitably) lost on record but that is no excuse for them becoming almost entirely forgotten today. Oh yeah, the song he recommended was Dog Tribe, and I’m giving it seventeen points.
Dan doubled the Yorkshire by recommending the LFO remix of Aftermath by Nightmares on Wax. I should probably be awarding him more than eighteen points for his commitment to getting the maximum amount of people from Yorkshire into his choice but, in a very real sense, I’m not. I’m giving him eighteen points.
With about eight minutes to go before the deadline, Mark G recommended Hold Me Now by the Thompson Twins and netted himself nineteen points in the process, which just goes to show how a last minute banger for my list is worth two on your to do list. Does that make sense? Get a recommendation in every week is what I’m saying. You can’t win the meat if you don’t buy a raffle ticket.
If forced to share my opinions on Soft Cell, I would argue that they wrote some absolutely gorgeous choruses but that they couldn’t write a verse for shit. My argument definitely holds up against the recommendations of David Coates (Say Hello, Wave Goodbye) and Jummo70 (Torch) but blimey, those choruses, yeah? Flipping lovely. You get twenty points each for those treasures.
btw I can’t begin to describe how much it annoys me that this font sees no difference between o and 0 (with the first of those being an o and the second a 0, obviously).
Sometimes the obvious choice is the wrong choice and sometimes it is the right choice. Three people recommended songs by The Human League but only Tom Mason correctly went full banger by suggesting Don’t You Want Me. As such, I am giving him twenty two points, one more than I am giving Rebecca H and Desmond who recommended Open Your Heart and Blind Youth respectively.
Which concludes our ‘classic 80s Yorkshire electro-pop’ segment. Which means nobody recommended something off Penthouse and Pavement. For shame, you lot. For shame.
Remember two thousand words ago when I said Fat Roland was going to nominate Something Good by Utah Saints but changed his mind because he considers himself to be “too radical” to associate with the likes of Rob Cutforth? Well it only went and cost him twenty four points, didn’t it? Who’s the International Teacher of Pop now, you ninny?
Picky Bastards continued his recovery from a slow start this season by recommending Munchies by Braintax, a song which featured a jaffa cakes joke that I very much appreciated. Braintax may be wrong about hobnobs (which are, in reality, a terrible biscuit) but he can write a song, and I will be checking out more by him in the coming weeks. Twenty six points.
The highest scoring Sunderland choice in our chart that, strictly speaking, shouldn’t really include bands from Sunderland, is Sleepy‘s recommendation of Baked Potato by Leatherface. No choice, in nearly a year of doing this competition, has taken me back so vividly to the days of listening to John Peel with one finger resting on the Record button of my Philips Roller. For the tune, for the memories (but not, clearly, for the geography) twenty eight points.
If you had told me last week that a song about a flooded Sheffield pub would get thirty points in this chart, I would have been very mildly surprised. But it’s happened! It has! Sex Police recommended The Queen’s Head by Richard Dawson and, full disclosure, on first listen I thought it was a bit rubbish. On second listen, I respected it but I didn’t love it. Third listen? Liked it. Fourth listen? Proper loved it, mate. I’m increasingly warming to the swap in format from albums to songs – being able to more fully listen to stuff like this means more difficult listens get a better chance to shine.
While my main motive for starting this whole shebang was to find new things to listen to, a lot of those new things (while great) haven’t been especially new (not that’s a problem of course). Not so, Helly Hansen 4 by Chiedu Oraka, which was, by my reckoning, 32 days old when David N Atkinson recommended it. This has to be a record, no? And not only was the song fresh it was also fresh. I loved it. Thirty two points.
Michael Conley and Sal Page both chose Yorkshire-as-inspiration instead of Yorkshire-as-place-of-a-band’s-origin and recommended Kate Bush’s peerless Wuthering Heights. It almost feels like cheating, doesn’t it? But I can assure you it isn’t. It’s just really smart thinking. Thirty four points worth of smart thinking.
Sorry to bang on about Fat Roland making a dog’s dinner of this round, but look what his second rejected choice would have got him. LFO by LFO (Leeds Warehouse Mix) from the preposterously brilliant album Frequencies was recommended by Mat Pringle and Leighton and they can both roll around on their beds covered in thirty six points like someone in a Hollywood film who has just robbed a bank or something like that*. But no copper is going to kick the door down and shoot them in the face this time. Oh no. Because they got those points by legitimate means. Nice.
*maybe a building society. Do they have those in America?
This week’s runner up is Lil’ Vanni Byniaeth, whose recommendation of Brassneck by The Wedding Present was an absolute humdinger. Cinerama may be the hipster’s choice but who, honestly, would think it could beat the massive twenty-four carat riff of Brassneck? Not me, that’s for sure, and for better or worse, that’s who you are all stuck with until somebody rips off this format and presents it in a more professional package. To paraphrase the lyrics of the song, I’m not being funny with you, but thirty eight points.
Which means, and you heard it here first, THE BOON IS ONLY FLIPPING WELL BACK!!!! Congratulations to Georgia Boon, who suffered the slings and arrows of my outrageous opinions about Verdi and Pavement AND took arms against a sea of my idiocy and by opposing it, ended it. More specifically, she recommended Midnight Cowboy by John Barry and got herself a place on the hall of fame and forty sweet sweet points for doing so.
A few people have asked me about the judging process of this competition and, honestly, it’s as random as fuck. Picking a ‘good’ song is important but it isn’t everything. Surprise me, like Georgia did this week, by picking something great that hadn’t even occurred to me and you should do ok. Chose something that I haven’t heard before, or that just feels right for the category and you should do ok. Remember that there isn’t really that much that separates the forty point songs from the two point songs, enjoy the ride, take the time to appreciate the occasional quite funny knob gag I’ve placed among the judging, and you’ll do best of all. Don’t worry about winning. We are all winners. Every single one of us. My love for you all is infinite.
Next week we will be taking a bit of a musical detour into the world of, well, musicals. I want you to recommend one song from a musical. Stage or film, classic or modern, understated mood piece or full jazz hands bonanza, whatever you like. Break a leg!