Tuesday Tunes 63: Down

Sometimes, the themes for these posts just fall into my lap. This is one such week. Readers outside the UK may not be aware of this story, but the main news item here since Friday has been the revelation that our now former Secretary of State for Health, Matt Hancock, has been caught in an affair with one of his main aides. She was a friend from his university days, who he had appointed to a post – paid for by UK taxpayers – with no proper process, and then he started bonking her in his office. The fact that her brother owns a company which has seemingly benefitted from NHS contracts awarded without competitive tender is, of course, entirely coincidental. Just when you thought that the hypocrisy and sleaze in this government couldn’t get any worse, along comes someone who lowers the bar to champion limbo dancer level. Going down in his office, and now going down in his career: there could only be one theme word this week, and that is down.

I went through my usual process of supplementing my memory of song titles with a search of my Apple Music library, and quickly got to twenty possibles. That was too many even for me to contemplate putting into one post, so I’ve stuck to usual numbers – the selection was very difficult, though, and as this is such fertile ground I may make this a two week miniseries.

Where do I begin? How about a band who I’ve featured before, who mean next to nothing in the States even though they have been hugely popular around the rest of the world – especially in the UK and Europe – for over fifty years:

If you weren’t fully awake before that, I’ll bet you are now! Status Quo have long been a firm favourite with fans here, and that is one of their best, and best known, songs. It was released as a single in November 1974, and was their first, and so far only, UK #1. It also reached #1 in Belgium and The Netherlands, #4 in Australia, and many other top tens across Europe. In the US – absolutely nothing. That was my final year at uni, and listening to it again brings back great memories of the lunchtime that I was in our communal kitchen when this came on the radio. Suddenly, there were about six of us throwing our long hair around, madly playing air guitar, only to realise that our corridor’s cleaner was standing with her mouth wide open, watching us in bemusement. Stella was a lovely lady who had, I think, long ago come to the conclusion that her ‘boys’ were all mad, and that just confirmed it for her. Happy days!

Fast forward seven years and you get to this piece of madness:

In case you hadn’t noticed, Men At Work are an Australian band. That was a massive global hit in 1981, reaching the #1 spot in the UK, US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and several other countries. The album it came from – Business As Usual – was also #1 in the UK, US, Australia and New Zealand. That was quite some debut, although this was actually the second single from the album: Who Can It Be Now had initially been released as a single before being included on the album, and was a US #1, #2 in Australia, and had various lower chart placings in other countries including the UK, where it only got to #45. I still find that the video makes me smile forty years on, and love the song.

I could hardly do a post of down songs without including this next one, could I:

As that is the official video I’m hoping it doesn’t run into any copyright problems, which tend to beset Beatles videos. As the YouTube note tells us, this is the version of the song which was included on the Let It Be – Naked album, and was recorded on 30 January 1969 on the roof of the band’s Apple Corps headquarters in central London: the final time they played in front of an audience. The performance was at lunchtime, and made the tv news broadcasts that evening – I can still recall complaining to my parents that the news bulletin didn’t show much of the twenty minutes for which they played. The song was recorded as part of the sessions for the Let It Be album, but was omitted from the final release. It was however the B-side to the Get Back single, which was of course #1 in the UK, US, and just about everywhere else. This song also reached #35 in the US in its own right as part of that. It was finally included in 2003 on the Let It Be – Naked album, a stripped down version of the original release, with a slightly different track listing. The album reached #7 in the UK and #5 in the US.

The next one is another from my uni days, having been released in late 1972, in the days when bands did a lot of lip synching on tv shows:

The song gave The Strawbs their first hit single, reaching #12 in the UK charts, and was the first single taken from their 1973 album Bursting At The Seams. The follow up, Part Of The Union, got to #2. They only had one other top forty single before returning to their life as a folk/prog/rock band, but it was fun while it lasted, and various incarnations of the band under the leadership of Dave Cousins have continued to this day. The album was also #2 in the UK and although they had no chart singles in the US the album did climb to the dizzy heights of #121 there. I can find no information as to whether drummer Richard Hudson ever found that missing tooth, in case you were wondering.

My next choice is one that I’m guessing will be unfamiliar to many. The original of this was a pop hit for Billy Joe Royal in 1965, but this version shows you what can happen to a song in the hands of a master of Americana slide guitar music:

I have also found a video of Billy Joe singing the song as part of a gathering of country musicians, which is perhaps not surprising when you consider that it was written by Joe South, the Games People Play man. But for me this version knocks the original out of the park. The musicianship is excellent, and the vocal harmonies are superb. Ry Cooder has made seventeen albums since his debut in December 1970. As the video shows, this was a track on Borderline, his ninth album, released in October 1980. In addition to his own records, he has written many film scores and has been involved in a huge number of collaborations, as part of his continuing drive to explore music from different cultures. I have been a fan since the beginning: he is remarkable. The album only charted in Australia, at #43, and no singles were released from it. The Wikipedia entry for the song doesn’t even mention this version, so I think it safe to say that it has very much gone under the radar for most people! I still love it, though, and I hope you enjoy it too.

Having had to prune down my original list of twenty songs, I’m giving you the first seven of them this week, and this is the penultimate one. This one has been a favourite of mine since it was first released in 1989:

James are another of those British bands who have meant nothing to the States, and on initial release this one didn’t do much here, either, peaking at #77. A re-recorded version was released in 1991, and gave the band their first big hit, reaching #2 here in the UK. Another remix was a UK #7 in 1998, which was around the time this video was recorded, so I’m guessing that is the version they are playing here. I’ve always thought that singer Tim Booth has a pleasing voice, and feel they deserved more chart success than they have had. The band are still going strong, and released their sixteenth album, All The Colours Of You, on 4 June this year – an album created at long distance, as the band members were stranded in a variety of different locations by the pandemic. It has been well-received critically and has reached #3 in the UK – their audience is still loyal!

I’m closing this first set of down songs with another which I have always liked:

This is the song whose lyrics gave Creedence Clearwater Revival’s fourth album its title: Willy And The Poorboys. I played this album to bits when it first came out, and have everything they have ever recorded. The band are, in my view, unique in their role in American rock music, and it is good to see that John Fogerty is still going strong: if you didn’t see the series of videos he released last year, playing some of his classic songs with his daughter and two sons, you’ve missed a treat – they are all still on YouTube so get on over there! They did a version of this one, but I preferred to stick with the original for today – that bass line needs to be heard again. The album was released in November 1969, and reached #3 in the US and #10 in the UK. This was the only single released from it, also making #3 in the US but only #31 in the UK.

So, that’s it for this week. Looking at my list of unused down songs I think I may well be sharing some more of them next week, as there are some cracking tunes in there. That is, of course, unless the sleazebags running the country do something to throw another theme at me in the meantime, which is of course perfectly possible. Until then, I hope you enjoy the music, and have a good week. I shall be immersing myself in Wimbledon and Euro 2020 (deferred) so you’ll know where to find me! Have a good one 😊

38 thoughts on “Tuesday Tunes 63: Down

  1. It’s Quo all the way for me…I’ll say it quietly but never a huge Beatles fan unlike everyone else I know some songs are ok but they don’t set my world on fire…Have a great week, Clive 🙂 x

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The stays quo “down down” song does have that wake you up energy 🎶🎶🎶

    And we listened to “whatever you want” and hubs said it reminded him of queen (a little) and for some reason I thought of ELO with that one –

    Liked by 1 person

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  4. Imagining you at the unI with long hair and rocking out with your friends was a fun image
    Thanks for introducing me to status quo and James
    – the CCR was a must include song (whew – fit well) and glad Men at Work made the first post.

    Liked by 1 person

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  6. Much to love here, my friend! I must admit that, like Keith, I immediately thought of Lay Down Sally, too. Several of these were unfamiliar, a couple I liked, but I have to admit that I much prefer Billy Joe Royal’s version of ‘Boondocks’ … a matter of what you’re used to, I suppose. You know I loved CCR. Oddly, I hadn’t ever heard that one by The Beatles … not one of their very best, but … hey … it’s The Beatles! I really liked “Lay Down” by the Strawbs (is that short for Strawberries?) and “Sit Down” by James. Thanks for some toe-tapping tunes, my friend!

    Liked by 2 people

    • That’s the beauty of music, as we have discussed before: I think Ry Cooder knocks the original out of the park! I think the Beatles one went under the radar for many, only being a B-side, though it had been included on one of their compilation albums.

      I’m glad you liked the Strawbs one, they were underrated as a band in my view. Yes, they were originally the Strawberry Hill Boys, named after the London street where the college at which they met was located.

      I’m also pleased you liked James – I was hoping to give American readers some songs they probably wouldn’t know.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I’ve heard that song by Status Quo somewhere before. I don’t know how because most bands who’ve never scored it big in the United States, I’m unfamiliar with it. I also have a sneaking suspicion you have posted something by them before as the groups’ name rings a bell. Anyway, I like it very much as that is the kind of song I listen to quite often.

    Men at Work was big here, but I can’t give them a thumb up or down.

    It strikes me that the Beatles have such a large catalog of work that you could probably include them just about any week.

    The Strawbs are new to me, No strong feeling about this one either.

    I remember the original version of Down in the Boondocks.

    James is also new to me. No strong opinion on this one either. I guess I’m just in one of those moods.

    I know I’m on the outs with this opinion, but I’ve never been a big CCR guy, but I do like this one better than most of their other songs.

    If this was a competition, my vote goes to Status Quo.

    Liked by 3 people

    • You’re right about Status Quo: I’ve featured them a couple of times before. Odd that you’ve heard the song before though – I was expecting none of my American readers to recognise it! You’re also right about The Beatles – I realised after I posted this that they were in last week’s selections too. As you say, a song for any occasion…

      It seems that you weren’t in listening mode this week – you don’t usually hold back on your thoughts on the songs!

      Liked by 2 people

  8. Whi would have thought there would be so many great songs with the theme of Down! Love CCR as well and really enjoyed the videos of John and his kids. A great version of Down in the Boondocks too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ll admit to being surprised how many I could find without having to think too long! That’s why there may be a part two next week. Those Fogerty’s Factory videos were a highlight for me last year. Glad you like the Ry Cooder one too: I’m a big fan but most people’s reaction is ‘who?’

      Liked by 2 people

  9. Great selection Clive! I suppose a selection based on hypocrite or smug b****** would be a bit tricky. I remember seeing The Beatles live on that roof top. The James song is a great one. They have a new album so I’m looking forward to hearing that. I didn’t realise how many good songs had ‘down’ in the title until I googled. I’m sure you’d have no problem doing another selection. Some of my favourite ‘down’ songs in my iTunes library are Don’t let me down again by Depeche Mode and I won’t back down by Tom Petty.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Paul. Those might not have been easy, and I’ve already done one of these on cheating so this seemed a good way to go. The Beatles performance is on YouTube, if you haven’t seen it. There are loads more I could have chosen, but Depeche Mode aren’t my thing and I’ve already used the Tom Petty one in posts. He does have another, though, and that’s on my list.

      Liked by 2 people

    • It’s a great song, all the more so for the way it blasted out of nowhere. I should have put this in the piece but I always have a wry smile at the fact that Colin Hay, who wrote and sang it, was actually born in Scotland and lived there till his parents emigrated. He was 14 at the time. I guess ‘I come from a land up yonder’ and lyrics about men in tartan skirts wouldn’t have worked as well…

      Liked by 2 people

  10. Clive, no matter the country, what I fail to understand is men in power thinking with their lower extremity versus the one on their shoulders. Also, the fact they seem to forget things are recorded. Here we have names like Elliott Spitzer (governor brought down by his penchant for prostitutes), Anthony Weiner (Congressman who like to sext pictures of his private parts), Mark Sanford (governor who has a Argentinian mistress), Bill Clinton, Donald Trump, etc. The last two escaped the scrutiny they deserved on this topic, yet were more prolific than the others.

    I will give a shout out to Mark Sanford’s wife who did what other wives should have. She told Sanford that she would not attend his mea culpa press conference and divorced him. Something about him calling his mistress his “soul mate” may have proved offensive.

    So, Mr. Hancock, you reap what you sow. I was humming Eric Clapton’s “Lay Down Sally” as I typed this. Keith

    Liked by 3 people

    • He compounded it by doing what he had criticised a government scientific advisor for doing several months previously, heaping hypocrisy on top of infidelity. The pictures that caught him out were taken by a spy cam that had been hidden inside a smoke alarm. True to form, the government is now wasting time and effort investigating how it got there.

      Lay Down Sally is amongst my possibles for a second set, if I do one 👍

      Liked by 3 people

  11. that’s odd that Status Quo never had success in the U.S. like they had elsewhere. that was a great song to start off your post, and my day!

    I always liked Down Under, and it’s been a while since I’ve heard it, and the first time I’ve seen the fun video that goes with it.

    sad to think that’s the last time the Beatles played in front of an audience…

    maybe if the Strawbs had had more success in the U.S., the drummer could have had some dental work done…

    Down in the Boondocks was a nice song to listen to; I was not familiar with it. I don’t know much about Ry Cooder either…

    I’ve never heard of James before, but it’s great to see they are still out there making music, and having success doing so…

    and a great song to close with, also one of my all-time favorite songs and bands..

    look forward to what will be going down next week…

    Liked by 3 people

    • I’ve never understood why the Quo didn’t make it over there, I’d have thought they were ideal for your market. They had a couple of very early hits in their psychedelic pop days, but nothing after that.

      The Down Under video is terrific, isn’t it.

      I think The Beatles had become a recording band long before the end: they kind of fell out of love with touring and hordes of girls screaming so loudly that they couldn’t hear what they were playing.

      I’m guessing no one told The Strawbs about dentistry.

      You’re really missing out with Ry Cooder. Try listening to something like Little Sister, from his previous album (Bop Till You Drop) and you’ll see how good he is. Another good starting point would be Why Don’t You Try Me, which is included on an anthology called The UFO Has Landed: a double album stuffed with great songs.

      James did break up for a time but it’s great to see them still making records and enjoying what they do. It didn’t fit the theme, but my favourite song of theirs is Runaground.

      I knew you’d like the last one! And there will be more, unless the government gives me another idea…

      Liked by 4 people

      • yes, it is strange that the Quo never made it here.

        it’s a shame the Beatles didn’t get a chance to tour more often…

        thanks for the suggestions on Ry Cooder, I’ll give them a listen tomorrow…

        and yes to closing with CCR!

        Liked by 3 people

  12. Wow, you finished as you started this week, making sure no feet would be still. Believe me it didn’t make it easy for the nurse changing the dressings. Somewhere I have a cd by a man called Colin Hay and I’m ot sure if he was with Men at Work or not .Did a great track called Overkill which featured heavily in an episode of Scrubs. Tell me, were James known as Halo James in a previous incarnation or was it a different group altogether? Enjoy your Wombledon and the Euros. Have a Great Week.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I aim to please! Glad you enjoyed them, and please give my apologies to your nurse. Colin Hay was the leader of Men At Work – that’s him in the video doing the singing and manic expressions. Overkill was a track on MAW’s second album, Cargo, and he re-recorded it with several of their others for a solo album called Man@Work. He’s still going strong, got a new album of covers of other people’s songs coming out soon. No, Halo James were a different band: much less successful and quite short-lived by comparison.

      You have a good week too. For me, I think ‘endure’ might be a better word than ‘enjoy’ for this afternoon’s game 😉

      Liked by 2 people

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