Tuesday Tunes 45: Breaking The Law

Some weeks, the theme for these posts just drops into my lap. This is one of those weeks. Last Friday, judgement was given at the High Court that the government had broken the law, by not revealing within the correct timeframe the details of contracts it had awarded without competitive tender during the pandemic. This might sound trivial against the background of all that has been going on, but contracts worth many millions have been awarded without the scrutiny of a tendering process, with the claimed justification of urgency. But many of these have been given to people and companies with connections and friendships to the government, raising doubts about their validity – especially when many were awarded to companies with no previous experience in the products and services for which they had been contracted. One such was the contract given to a friend of the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, who used to be the landlord of Hancock’s village pub before setting up a production company – but not for medical vials. Unsurprisingly, the medical health regulator is looking into this one! I thought about writing a separate piece on this, but it would have just degenerated into a rant, so I thought better of it. It did make a great theme for some tunes, though: breaking the law.

I could only really start the tunes with one, but which version? In my usual way, I decided to be indecisive and give you both, so this week there are going to be seven videos rather than the usual six. This is the version of this song which is probably the more familiar one:

I know it is only three weeks since I last featured The Clash, but this is too good not to include it. This was originally released as part of an EP, The Cost Of Living, in 1979: it reached #22 in our singles chart and #24 in Ireland. It was re-released in 1988 as part of the promotion for the compilation album The Story Of The Clash, when it charted at #29 here. The compilation peaked at #7 on the UK albums chart, and climbed all the way to #142 in the US. I love the song and the video, which looks like they had a lot of fun in its making, and it is good to see my old schoolfriend again, before drugs took him over and led to his sacking from the band – he’s doing well now, I’m glad to report.

The Clash decided to play that song after Joe Strummer heard the ‘original’ on a jukebox in a recording studio in San Francisco while they were mixing their second album, Give ‘Em Enough Rope. That version was by The Bobby Fuller Four:

The song was actually written by Sonny Curtis in 1958, and was recorded by The Crickets, after Curtis joined the band to replace the late Buddy Holly. It was only ever a B-side for them, but the Bobby Fuller version was a hit single in 1966, reaching #9 in the US and #33 in the UK. There have been a number of other cover versions too, notably by Roy Orbison, Hank Williams Jr, Nanci Griffith, and Green Day. It is also a favourite of Bruce Springsteen, who has often played it in live shows but hasn’t recorded it, to the best of my knowledge.

People who break the law often go to jail. I suspect that none of our government will suffer that fate (I wish!) but if they did, this may well be how it would go:

That was the title track of Thin Lizzy’s sixth album, released in 1976, which reached #10 in our albums chart and #18 in the US. It was also a #31 single hit here. I’ve never understood why they didn’t do better in the States, as I would have thought they were made for that market. The best Irish rock band ever (yes, I know of that other one). I saw Thin Lizzy twice, and they really were as tight a unit as this video suggests, and Phil Lynott was the epitome of cool. Sadly, he was one of those who succumbed to heroin but didn’t make it through. Last month saw the 35th anniversary of his passing: such a waste.

Taking the next step with the theme of our government in jail, I guess they could just stay there and entertain themselves:

That was released in 1957, and was #1 both in the US and over here. Those were very much the days when singles ruled, and I think I’m right in saying that the song has featured on compilations but wasn’t originally released on an album. I was never a huge fan, but that song and video are great pop music.

One thing that might not be advisable if you’re in trouble with the law is to admit one crime whilst denying another – it isn’t likely to go well:

Bob Marley was another one taken from us far too young: in his case, the cause was melanoma, and he was only 36. This is one of his best known songs – possibly from the Eric Clapton cover, which was a big hit, peaking at #9 here but hitting #1 in the US. Bob’s own version was on his 1974 album, Burnin’, which reached #151 in the US but didn’t chart here. Conversely, as a single it reached #67 here but wasn’t a US hit. Bob Marley remains a legendary figure in the music world, and it was fitting that his 1984 posthumous greatest hits album, which features this one, was called Legend. To date, that album has spent over 600 weeks in the US albums chart and more than 900 in ours. In total, Marley has sold over 75m records worldwide: few have ever done better.

If our government has been unlucky enough to be found guilty in a court of law, one of the fates that might have befallen them – in other locations – could have been to be sentenced to be part of a chain gang. This gave rise to thoughts that I might feature the Sam Cooke song of that name, or perhaps The Pretenders’ Back On The Chain Gang, but I decided it was a good excuse to include another video from one of my favourite bands:

Breaking rocks in the hot sun, eh? That was on the 2013 album R.E.V.O. by Walk Off The Earth (WOTE), which reached #7 in their native Canada and #90 in the US. It was also a #60 single in Canada. The song is typical of their style, and the video displays their usual creativity, with a few nods to O Brother Where Art Thou. But, joyous though the video is, the final message is that crime doesn’t pay and you’ll end up serving the time in the end. Not that our government cares: they have broken the law before and just stuck up the middle finger to the rest of us.

Which leads me to today’s closing tune. Not everyone who breaks the law goes to jail, and some make their living avoiding it. Here’s the best song I know about that:

Perhaps a route the government shouldn’t go down? Better stay away 🖕

That was the title track of Steve Earle’s third album, released in 1988. It reached #7 on the US Country Albums chart and #55 in the main albums chart, and was his first to chart in the UK, peaking at #42. This track was also a single, making #10 on the US Mainstream Rock chart (which is based on airplay on rock radio stations), and got to #45 here. Earle is very vocal on politics, stemming back to the days when he just avoided the draft for Vietnam due to a law change. It makes him what we here call a ‘Marmite’ figure – you either love ’em or hate ’em. I’m quite partial to the stuff.

That’s all for this week. Hopefully the government will have done something else to give me a theme by next week – the newly announced ‘roadmap’ is likely to present some opportunities. But I’ll just look elsewhere if not. Have a good week, take care of yourself and those you care about 👍


38 thoughts on “Tuesday Tunes 45: Breaking The Law

  1. hi Clive
    i was here earlier enjoying tuesday tubmnes but was not logged in
    and so coming back today the last two songs were able to be sampled a second time –
    and again i have the same takeaway – the Gang of Rhythm have some seriously pleasant vocals!
    i never saw the full movie of “oh brother where art thou” but could feel the connection
    and the gritty and tough vibe of the closing song (mason jar drinking container) was nice.

    and backing up a bit- how very cool that you have that friend connection with the clash band member and his recovery – and sad that Phil Lynott could not recover and get out of the snares of heroin!
    the 2013 book “brain that changes itself” is a good read if you have time – and it helped me to understand a lot more about the depths of many addictions and the physiological force that can be thunderous to pull back from

    and oh my goodness
    elvis presley song i knew but never saw that vid and had to smile with the POLE DANICING because it is often so sexualized and that was just so 1950s – and wondered if Michael Jackson was inspired by Elvis and those leg and hip moves!

    the theme was fun and the way you connected it to your government swift

    i did think of the pretenders song when i read the first sentence with chain gang and was glad you mentioned it as you let us feel how your choices unfolded

    i grew up hearing thin lizzy but never knew the name kf the band and never connected Phil’s singing to that band name – so when i heard thin lizzy i wouod have thought heavy rock – not sure why – but now i connect it better
    – and lastly
    speaking of hard rock – i did think of Judas Priest’s braking the law song when i saw the title – but glad it did not to the list – the ones you included were a good set and with that – i thank you and bid adieu

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Yvette. Thanks for returning! Gang Of Rhythm is the song title – the band is Walk Off The Earth. You’re right about their vocals, and they have loads of other videos if you want to hear more. They do a lot of covers but their own songs are good too.

      I saw the MJ connection with Elvis too, though I’m not a fan of either!

      Thin Lizzy’s singles are all as catchy as that one, though some of their album tracks are harder rock, so you made the right connection. I’m not a fan of Judas Priest, either, so even the title of their track wasn’t enough to get it included.

      The final song is one of Steve Earle’s earlier records. Still my favourite of his albums, and the video is great!

      Liked by 1 person

      • hi Clive
        i am nkt a fan of that kind of dancing for elvis or Mj – although i can see the charm and movements brought about by the iconic performers

        and okay – the name WOTE – but they could be a gang of musicians with some melody and rhythm – just kidding


        Liked by 1 person

      • I’m not much of a fan of any dancing, tbh – probably as I have no sense of rhythm myself!

        WOTE are very much a gang of musicians with melody and rhythm – I’ve shared them often on here, and they can be found by putting WOTE into the search box. Or just go to YouTube – if you liked this one there are loads more there to enjoy.

        Liked by 1 person

      • yeah and when corrected me on the name vs song title – i did remember (faintly) seeing the band here
        that might have been the Take It Easy tuesday tunes music post i enjoyed while drinking White Claws at the pool – hahaha
        enjoyed the post but all a blur (half kidding – only had two white claws)

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hi – well I do drink maybe (big maybe) three or fours times a year – but less and less because it is not good for the human body – so you are not missing much (IMHO)
        but – with that said – next time I decide to have a cruel white claws – I will have one for you – and maybe even visit a post and comment – hahahah

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hahaha
        Sadly I think it already was a big thing last year!
        And I actually recently realized the value of modeling “not drinking” and speaking up to folks about how we got away from the conditioned way out culture promotes alcohol as fun, celebratory, social bonding, refraining, relaxing, etc.
        And had a few folks last year share that they slowly got away from alcohol in regular use,
        A danger I see often is with young women and the idas that red wine has reversatrol (compound from skin of red grapes) and so to relax and unwind it has the illusion of a healthy choice but has so many potential cons.

        Anyhow – hope your weekend is going well Clive

        Liked by 1 person

      • From what I’ve read, problem drinking has been on the increase during the pandemic, as people use it for a release from the boredom of lockdowns or the pressures of home schooling and 24 hour children entertainment. I fear there will be health issues arising from this – but there’s nothing wrong with the occasional tipple!

        Liked by 1 person

      • I think you are right – there might be a surge of issues from the pandemic –
        and maybe another reason for some of your wellness posts to be sitting here for folks to find as they need it
        I know this is the beauty of blogging – we never know how our posts will impact others and when some folks hear your story and see your helpful resource posts it really could have that rippling effect

        Liked by 1 person

      • I fear I will be proved right. I’m no expert on anything but you can see it coming, can’t you? Thanks for your kind words – if I ever manage to help anyone it is a bonus for me.

        Liked by 2 people

    • The Conservatives have always had very blurred lines with big business, they have just become more blatant about them with their allocation of contracts during the pandemic. It is scandalous, but as the media here are largely owned by the same group of people they get away with it.

      I’d not heard that one before, probably as I’ve never seen either the stage or movie versions of the show!


  2. What a great collection – I knew most of them this week. But Elvis and WOTE and Bob Marley in the same post – that is quite the collection. Fun theme. Unlike Pete, I don’t know much about Thin Lizzy, which I think I mentioned before, but I’m starting to learn a bit more thanks to you. Just like with Steve Earle…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great choices for a fun theme. Unfortunately, we all know there’s no such thing as justice for all. I like both versions of I Fought the Law, though I’m partial to the original. I would say that 90% of the time, I like the original version more. (Perhaps because I give them more credit for coming up with the tune or from my expectations of what the song should sound like.) I’m one of the Thin Lizzy fans in the U.S. Lynott was a troubled soul. It feels like he would have produced a lot more great music. What can you say about Elvis? No wonder he got all the girls. The Bob Marley version of I Shot the Sheriff is cool, but I still like the Clapton one more. What a testament to Marley’s popularity to have longevity with Legend. I don’t think there’s a Walk Off the Earth video that I don’t like. They break the rule for me because I like some of their versions better than the originals. My wife and son are more of the country music buffs in the family, but I can see why the Earle tune was so popular.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Pete – can you tell I had fun with this one? The original of I Fought The Law was by the Crickets. I can’t find their first recording but they did re-record it for an album called Double Exposure, in 1993. I think the Bobby Fuller version is better, though the Clash is still my favourite. Having said what you did about liking the originals, it’s interesting that you prefer Clapton to Marley – I don’t! I just had to use the excuse to include WOTE and Steve Earle!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Right! I thought about that when I was typing it. There is an annual music festival about an hour away from me called Reggae on the River. I never attended, but I drove by on the highway several times. It started as a fundraiser when a local community hall was burned down by an arsonist. It used to be attended by a few thousand people, but in recent years has been involved in several lawsuits by those trying to continue to keep it going with those claiming to hold exclusive rights. As usual, money is the source of much of the disagreement. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reggae_on_the_River


  4. A great collection. I love The Bobby Fuller Four and that is the version I’m familiar with but the Clash do a good job as well. Flas you included both. And Steve Earl, sigh….Many tears were shed when he passed away. That song still sends shivers.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Ah, Phil Lynott. I remember Sam and I trudging around St. Fintan’s cemetery in Dublin looking for his grave. We found it at last. It was just a headstone buried in grass, nothing fancy, but fans had left little keepsakes there.

    Liked by 2 people

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