By Olive Butler
So many excellent noms over the festive period! Quite a few of my B-List picks were on my first draft A-List, but many of them are previously zedded – including, amazingly, The Sweet’s Blockbuster! But in any case that riff can be traced back much farther than Bowie. Incidentally, three recordings are usually cited as the major influences on The Jean Genie:
Jacques Dutronc - La Fille du Père Noël
The Shadows of Knight – Oh Yeah
The Yardbirds – I’m A Man
For obvious reasons, I just couldn’t bring myself to pick Rolf Harris for the A-List. Even though he won his legal action against Adam and the Ants for alleged copyright infringement, the idea of him claiming ownership of a song he himself had stolen from the Indigenous Australians leaves a bitter taste in the mouth (and that’s without all the sexual assault stuff …).
Turning to the A-List proper, ParaMhor provides us with a textbook example of this week’s topic - The Beach Boys’ Surfin’ USA, a barely disguised rehash of Chuck Berry’s Sweet Little Sixteen. ParaMhor also wins a bonus point for identifying the source of the distinctive guitar into to Surfin’ USA – namely, Chuck Berry’s Brown-Eyed Handsome Man.
Magicman nominates the first of an A-List hat trick for Beatles soundalikes, but in fact on this one, them sounding like someone else. Here it’s I Feel Fine which owes one hell of a debt to Bobby Parker’s terrific Watch Your Step.
MussoliniHeadkick’s choice of The Ting Tings’ That’s Not My Name is particularly apposite too since the song it sounds like – Toni Basil’s Mickey – is itself a rewritten and rearranged version of Kitty by Racey.
Kudos to Bethnoir for suggesting The Daysleepers’ Release The Kraken – a band I was unaware of, but the similarity between this track and Blue Oyster Cult’s Don’t Fear The Reaper is undeniable.
Since this is the week for rip-offs, I’m tempted to try to pass off SweetHomeAlabama’s words as my own. The nom is for Sam Spence’s The Pony Soldiers which sounds exactly like Booker T & the MGs’ Hang ‘Em High. “Spence rather brazenly plundered Hollywood film scores and Spaghetti Western themes to create the NFL Films soundtrack of the 1970s. His bravado was matched only by knowing exactly what to steal and how to put his own spin on it.” That last sentence could equally sum up David Bowie’s career.
Megadom proposed the next Beatles-related pick: the immensely charming Clarietta Rag by Kevin Ayers which clearly channels Being For The Benefit Of Mr Kite.
The final bite of the Apple comes courtesy of The Aerovons who recorded Resurrection at Abbey Road in 1969, the year after The Beatles recorded Across The Universe. Despite the fact that The Beatles’ track was not released until after Resurrection was recorded, it seems utterly inconceivable that The Aerovons had not heard it. Oh, and Resurrection was engineered by Geoff Emerick and Norman Smith too. A superb shout from ShivSidecar who makes the A-List twice this week.
(I feel that At The Sign Of The Swingin’ Cymbal should be playing in the background right about now… Alright? Not ’arf!)
Proving that last-minute noms can make the A-List, EnglishOutlaw is in at number nine with Cadaver Club’s Follow Me To Hell – an irresistible example of funeral punk which is strangely reminiscent of the doo-wop classic Earth Angel, originally recorded by The Penguins, but represented here in a fine version by Marvin Berry & The Starlighters.
Alison Dempster, I both salute and curse you! Teitur’s The Singer does indeed echo Laurie Anderson’s O Superman, but I’ve been playing it on repeat the whole time I’ve been writing up this week’s lists!
The second of ShivSidecar’s noms is Wild Cats of Kilkenny by The Pogues. I was highly sceptical of the contention that there might be any resemblance to the original BBC Radiophonic Workshop’s ‘Doctor Who’ Theme, but from the moment I hit play on The Pogues’ track, I had a big grin on my face and frankly I’m baffled that no enterprising YouTuber has yet created a film for it in which Shane MacGowan’s dissolute features materialise in the middle of the old Doctor Who titles in place of Patrick Troughton.
The A-List wraps up with two shouts from FretlessBasser - Coldplay’s Talk, which, as any fule kno, is just Kraftwerk’s Computer Love with different words, and Forget About You by The Motors for which Keith Mansfield is surely due royalties since the song is unarguably built around the exact same riff as his ‘Grandstand’ Theme. Incidentally, if anyone ever gets a chance to see the KPM Allstars in concert, don’t miss it. Hearing the ‘Grandstand’ theme played live by a terrific band, conducted by Keith Mansfield with the legendary Alan Hawkshaw (composer of the ‘Grange Hill’ and ‘Countdown’ themes among many others) on keyboards was an unforgettable night.
The Echoey A-List Playlist:
The Beach Boys - Surfin’ Usa
(Chuck Berry - Sweet Little Sixteen)
The Beatles – I Feel Fine
(Bobby Parker – Watch Your Step)
The Ting Tings – That’s Not My Name
(Toni Basil - Mickey)
The Daysleepers – Release The Kraken
(Blue Oyster Cult – Don’t Fear The Reaper)
Sam Spence – The Pony Soldiers
(Booker T & The MGs – Hang’em High)
Kevin Ayers – The Clarietta Rag
(The Beatles – Being For The Benefit Of Mr Kite)
The Aerovons – Resurrection
(The Beatles - Across The Universe)
Cadaver Club – Follow Me To Hell
(Marvin Berry & The Starlighters – Earth Angel)
Teitur – The Singer
(Laurie Anderson – O Superman)
The Pogues – Wild Cats Of Kilkenny
(BBC Radiophonic Workshop - Dr Who Theme)
Coldplay – Talk
(Kraftwerk – Computer Love)
The Motors - Forget About You
(Keith Mansfield - Grandstand Theme)
The Bring It Back B-list Playlist:
The Sweet - Blockbuster
(David Bowie - The Jean Genie)
The Beach Boys – Don’t Worry Baby
(The Ronettes - Be My Baby)
George Harrison - My Sweet Lord
(The Chiffons - He’s So Fine)
Green Day - Warning
(The Kinks - Picture Book)
Nick Lowe - I Love The Sound Of Breaking Glass
(David Bowie - Sound + Vision)
Jet - Are You Gonna Be My Girl?
(Iggy Pop - Lust For Life)
Adam & The Ants – Prince Charming
(Rolf Harris – War Canoe)
Steely Dan – Rikki Don’t Lose That Number
(Horace Silver – Song For My Father)
The Beatles - Lady Madonna
(Humphrey Lyttleton Band – Bad Penny Blues)
Avishai Cohen – Will I Die, Miss? Will I Die?
(Miles Davis – Nuit Sur Les Champs-Élysées)
Nico - Afraid
(Pachelbel – Canon In D Major)
Guru’s Wildcard Picks:
Shoegazer also wondered if there could be a similarity between Do They Know It’s Christmas? and the Doctor Who theme, but at the time of the original release I do recall Midge Ure saying that Bob Geldof had accused him of stealing the Band Aid synth riff from the theme to Z Cars:
Since theme tunes have cropped up several times in this topic, who remembers Sid and Marty Kroft’s pre-Muppets puppetry and live action mash-up, ‘H.R. Pufnstuf’? The show's theme song was written by Les Szarvas, but the writing credit is now shared with Paul Simon on account of the similarity between its opening chorus and The 59th Street Bridge Song:
Patsy Gallant’s disco hit From New York To L.A. was a blatant borrow from a 1966 French-Canadian folk song entitled Mon Pays by Gilles Vigneault, which Wiki tells us is the unofficial national anthem of Quebec. Patsy’s lyrics were written from scratch, so they bear no relation at all to the meaning of Vigneault’s original words:
Many Beatles-related noms this time, but no one pointed out that Paul Weller based The Jam’s Start around the distinctive Taxman riff:
Perhaps parodies are a whole other topic, but the Rutles received precisely zero nominations which came as a big surprise (although severin, to be fair, did mention them in a post). Neil Innes is an accomplished pasticheur - as is Graham Fellows (aka Jilted John & John Shuttleworth) who wrote and performed My Turn To Be Poorly, a masterly piss-take of The Smiths in the guise of one of his lesser-known characters, part-time Media Studies lecturer (suspended), Brian Appleton:
So many choices, but I hope you enjoy these double-length playlists and I wish a happy and peaceful 2019 to one and all.
These playlists were inspired by readers' song nominations from last week's topic: Familiar? It's a Christmas special: songs that sound like other songs. The next topic will launch on Thursday at 1pm UK time.
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