Tuesday Tunes 53: Crowds

I’d been thinking about a theme like this, and was prompted to do it by a post from Hugh at the weekend, in which he shared one of the songs I’m including today. The theme is a response to some of the scenes we’ve seen in the news since the lockdown in England had another gradual relaxation last Monday. Despite the exhortations of our esteemed Prime Minister for people not to go mad and congregate without taking the recommended precautions, that is exactly what the usual moronic suspects did, celebrating the fact that they could go out and have a beer. The theme that came to mind from this was: crowds. The song that Hugh shared had a lot of ‘audience’ (or ‘crowd’) participation, and I said to him in the comments that it put me in mind of another video. After a little bit of thought, I came up with another four which also have a good deal of involvement by people other than the band, so that is this week’s six. Here goes.

Following Hugh’s lead I’m starting with the song he shared:

In keeping with my other choices for this week that video is full of joy, which is a kind of  sub-theme for this set. The song comes from Coldplay’s 2014 album Ghost Stories, which like most of their albums was #1 in the UK and the US, and in loads of other countries too. This one was released as a single, reaching #9 in the UK and #10 in the US, though it did make #1 in Italy. A little snippet for you about the video: if, like me, you puzzle about these things, you may have wondered where the video was recorded. The road signs didn’t look to be in the style of ours, the cafe prices were in dollars, but the traffic was driving on the right side of the road. I wondered if it could be Australia, and a quick trip to Google confirmed that it was made in Sydney. So now you know!

This week’s second song is by a singer-songwriter who is, I think, under most people’s radar despite his successes in the UK albums chart. I have featured him in this series before, but not with a song as raucous and ultimately uplifting as this one:

No one sleeps while Frank’s on! This is a rather different song from the one of his I shared earlier in this series, all the way back in episode 5. I have actually included this one in a post before, but as that was back in November 2014 I’m not expecting that anyone will remember that (I didn’t – I had to look it up!). The song is actually quite a bleak one, about a guy whose relationship has broken down and is turning to chemical solutions for the pain. But the underlying message is one of hope that things can – and will – get better, and the sight of all of those people having a great time dancing like their lives depended on it always cheers me up. The song was on Frank’s fifth album, Tape Deck Heart, released in 2013. It reached #52 in the US but was a big hit here, getting to #2 (his three subsequent albums have reached #2, #3 and #3 here). The song was a single, too, peaking at #75 here but not charting in the US, though it did make #16 on the Billboard Alternative Airplay chart, which is based on radio plays.

This week’s third song is another which includes a lot of people dancing, plus a few extras:

I had a CD of the best of Blink-182, and when I first put it on in the car, while taking my daughter back to uni, the look on her face was priceless – it was the kind of music she and her friends enjoyed, and supposedly wasn’t for dads. Who cares? I’ve always loved this song and video, and it never fails to make me laugh and cheer me up. It comes from their third album, the wonderfully titled Enema Of The State, which was released in 1999 and peaked at #9 in the US and #15 here. As a single, it was #6 in the US and #2 here – still their best chart positions for a single by a distance, though their 2016 album California reached #1 on both sides of the pond.

Another bunch of people having a good time are to be found in this next one, too:

That was the second song to be released as a single from the Kaiser Chiefs’ debut album, Employment, which came out in March 2005 and got to #2 here and #86 in the US. As a single it reached #9 here but, like all of their US releases, didn’t chart over there, though it did make #34 on the Billboard Alternative chart. The song is based on band members’ experiences growing up in Leeds, suggesting that their younger years were quite lively! ‘Smeaton’ is a reference to John Smeaton, an 18thC engineer who designed canals, harbours and lighthouses and who, like Ricky Wilson, the band’s lead singer, went to Leeds Grammar School (the ‘Leodensian’ link). And in case you were wondering, the band ‘borrowed’ their name from the Kaizer Chiefs football team in South Africa, the former club of the Leeds United player Lucas Radebe. Some enlightenment to go with the entertainment is always good, I think!

NB: I’ve been advised that this video doesn’t play in the US. However, the band’s record company obligingly put out a newer video, which does work there. You’ll find it here: https://youtu.be/84qWb8i_Q_A

This next one takes a slightly different approach to its crowds, assembling groups together for scenes in the video. But it comes together to make a joyous collection:

If you watch that on YouTube you’ll see that the comments are full of people sharing their experiences of being involved in making it. This just adds to the enjoyment for me. The song comes from Big Country’s third album, The Seer, released in 1986; the album reached #2 here and #59 in the US. As a single, this song reached #19 in the UK but didn’t chart in the US. It was used in the 1980s by the Tennent’s Lager brand in its advertising, and was played at the launch in 2012 of the official campaign for a ‘Yes’ vote in the Scottish independence referendum – the band are Scottish, if you didn’t already know that, hence the choice of their music.

Hopefully you haven’t already overdosed on joy from these crowd videos, as I have one last song for you. This also appeared in the same 2014 post as the Frank Turner one, and is the song I mentioned to Hugh. As an example of music’s power to create happiness I think it takes some beating:

I just love the way that a simple song builds, layer by layer, until the confetti crescendo. The song has been covered many times, including by Foxes and Fossils (who featured covering another song in Back Under The Covers), and is a great way to end this week’s tunes. This was from The Lumineers, the band’s eponymous debut album, released in 2012. The album reached #2 in the US and #8 here. This was the lead single, and peaked at #3 in the US and #8 here – their only top 100 UK single to date, though their three albums have all been top ten here, including a #1 for Cleopatra, their second record.

I’m very aware that I haven’t given you the usual balance of upbeat and reflective tunes this week: these are unremittingly happy songs, but I think we all deserve a little bit of joy in our lives, especially now. No doubt I’ll return to normal next week, so there may be some misery on offer then if you’re missing it 😉

As always, I wish you a good week and hope that you stay safe and well. I’m off to continue my celebrations over my football team finally seeing sense and relieving old misery guts of his job. Ho hey!

Tuesday Tunes 52: Revisiting The Sixties

It may come as a surprise to you, but I do actually keep notes on what I’ve included in these posts. Whilst I was going through these the other day I came across the list I made last autumn when I was sharing music from the Sixties and Seventies in this series, and was surprised to see how many more I had considered, but not yet shared. You seemed to enjoy these when I did them before, so I thought I might do a couple more, rather than rack my brains for a theme for the week: it’s called ‘taking the easy way out!’ There was so much good music around in the days when my musical tastes were forming, and I’ve enjoyed revisiting some of these – I hope you will, too.

First tune for this week is from a band I featured a couple of weeks ago:

That was released as a single in 1969 – I think the fashion styles rather give the date away – and was very successful here. It didn’t chart in the US but, given its title, it was perhaps ironic that it peaked here at…yes, you guessed it…#2. They are viewed as very much a pop band, but a number of their B-sides displayed an underlying rock influence and this track – which was composed by the band – saw them dipping their toes into more ambitious territory. It has always been my favourite of theirs and yes, I did buy it at the time.

Whilst The Tremeloes have had a long career this next band were only around for a couple of years, but they had some big hit records in that time – four top ten singles in that brief spell. This is the most successful of them:

The song was actually offered to The Tremeloes, but they turned it down – that might be deemed a mistake! Amen Corner, a Welsh band, had just changed record companies and this was their first release on the new label. It spent two weeks at #1 here in February 1969, but after one more hit (Hello Susie, which reached #4 here) the band disbanded at the end of that year. Andy Fairweather-Low, their vocalist, has had a long solo career, and has appeared on records by a number of big names, including Eric Clapton, George Harrison and Roger Waters (of Pink Floyd). Blue Weaver, their keyboards player, has since been in The Strawbs and the backing band for The Bee Gees.

Next up is the quintessential one-hit wonder:

Thunderclap Newman were brought together by Pete Townshend of The Who. They made one album, Hollywood Dream, and released four singles from it. One of those, the rather morbid Accidents, did actually reach our chart, but it only got to #46. This is the one they are remembered for here, though they didn’t have any chart success elsewhere. It is unique, I think: do you know of any other hit record which has had a honky tonk piano solo in the middle? I sure don’t! This spent three weeks at #1 here in June 1969 – clearly a good year for music. It knocked The Beatles off the top and held Elvis Presley off it, thus making its mark. The band didn’t last long, though there have been a couple of reformed versions featuring the pianist Andy ‘Thunderclap’ Newman. Sadly, he died in 2016. The most well known of the original members was probably Jimmy McCullough, who went on to be a member of Paul McCartney’s Wings – he died in 1979 at the age of 26, from a heroin-induced cardiac arrest. A sad waste of a young talent, when you consider that he was only 16 when he played guitar on this track (he’s the one in the vest). Pete Townshend didn’t appear on stage with them, but he played bass on their recordings, under the pseudonym of Bijou Drains (no, I’ve no idea, either).

Moving back a little earlier in the Sixties brings me to the first record I ever bought:

I actually included this in my now largely defunct series of #SaturdaySongs. This is that post. The song means a lot to me, as it brings back memories of when I was first getting interested in music, and that earlier post gives you much more background both on that and on Barry McGuire. In brief, the song was a protest song about the Vietnam War, written by P.F.Sloan, recorded in summer 1965, and released instantly. It was a huge hit, reaching #1 in the US and #3 here. Sadly, there is still much of relevance in its lyrics today – you only have to look at what is happening in Myanmar at present to see what I mean.

Staying in the same vein, this is another long-time favourite of mine:

This was on the second pressing of the eponymous debut album by Buffalo Springfield, although it hadn’t been included on the first pressing. I guess that was due to its success as a single: released in 1967, it reached #7 in the US. The song was written by Stephen Stills, who sings the lead vocal, and the band also included Neil Young, later to join Stills in CSN&Y as well as their both enjoying stellar solo careers. Two other band members, Richie Furay and Jim Messina, went on to start the band Poco, who are another favourite of mine and have featured in this series – in episode 36 if you’d like to revisit it. This is also a song with lyrics that are still just as relevant today as ever – possibly even more so, given the epidemic of shootings that continues in the States. It seems that we don’t learn…

I’m rounding off today where I began, in a way. This is yet another song from 1969 – but only just, as it was released in November of that year. It is another from a ‘pop’ band who showed themselves capable of much more:

I’m sharing this live recording as it is such a great performance of a really lovely, meaningful song. There are many songs which were written at a young age which belie their author’s youthfulness with wisdom beyond their years: Janis Ian’s At Seventeen and Richard Thompson’s Meet On The Ledge are two such, but there are loads more. The striking thing for me in this one is that Marmalade had, until then, been regarded (by me, at least) as a happy go lucky pop band releasing records like their cover of the Beatles’ Ob-La-Di. This one kind of stopped me in my tracks, and I still find it hard to listen to it without getting something in my eye. The song was a worldwide hit single, peaking at #3 here in the UK and at #10 in the US, where it sold over a million copies. It’s just a pity that one of the band members didn’t get the memo about wearing yellow, though…

That’s all for this week, but I hope I’ve shown you that there was a lot of good music around in the Sixties, without needing to delve into the catalogues of the big name artists of the time. I still have a list of more Sixties songs to share with you, so I’ll do this again next week. Given all the pictures in the news this morning of loads of morons out getting drunk last night, and throwing social distancing to the winds, we could be back in lockdown by then. Hey ho. Take care, stay safe and look out for each other.