The First Top 20 Single Penned By Andy Was A Song He Really Hated: “Sgt. Rock (Is Going To Help Me)”
As you know, the song that gave the Swindon-based art rockers their first taste of success was “Making Plans For Nigel”. That was the first single culled from “Drums & Wires”, and it was a Top 17 hit. But it wasn’t penned by Andy Partridge. Rather, it had been composed by bassist Colin Moulding.
Andy would have to wait until the next album (Black Sea) to have a Top 20 hit of his own. Yet, fate dictated that his least-liked composition from the whole LP was to be the one putting him on the map. The song “Sgt. Rock (Is Going To Help Me)” got to number 16 on the charts.
Andy was to lament forever more that a song harking back to his puerile writing days became his first hit. Remember, at that time he was already penning stuff like “Living Through Another Cuba” and “Respectable Street”. Continue reading →
The song was removed at Natalie Merchant’s behest, in the aftermath of the Salman Rushdie incident.
When Rushdie published his book “The Satanic Verses” in 1988, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomein pronounced a death sentence on him.
When asked about the pronouncement, Cat Stevens (who had by then converted to Islam, and adopted the Muslim name of Yusuf Islam) remarked that the will of Ayatollah must always be respected. This comment was then placed out of context and/or edited, and soon people believed that Stevens did actually support the death sentence pronounced on Rushdie.
In the wake of this incident, “Peace Train” was removed from all American copies of “In My Tribe”. It is, however, found on international copies of the album (the one I have from Germany has it), and more recently it was included among the rarities featured on the compilation “Campfire Songs: The Popular, Obscure and Unknown Recordings” (2004).
A classic rock & roll image, the cover of The Who's epoch-defining album was chosen over a shot featuring Keith Moon on wig and corset (!).
The monolith depicted on the cover of Who’s Next is found on Sheffield. You might know that already, but what you might not know is that the monolith is surrounded by lots of similar constructions. Have a good look at this video, shot by a fan:
The photo was taken by Ethan A. Russell.
And I hate bringing rock & roll myths down, but the band members did not really urinate on the monolith. Rainwater was tipped from an empty film canister to create the intended effect.
“Song For Guy” Remains The Sole Instrumental Piece By Elton That Has Cracked The Charts
“Song For Guy” is a six-minute instrumental piece that closes Elton’s 1978 album, “A Single Man”. It is preceded by a short introduction which is named “Reverie”.
If you have “A Single Man”, you will be able to read in the credits that the song is dedicated to Guy Burchett, a seventeen-year old boy that worked at Rocket (Elton’s record company) as a messenger. He died in a motorcycle accident.
There are two common misconceptions surrounding “Song For Guy”. The first is thinking that Elton wrote the song after Guy had died. He did not. He had a strange inspiration the night before the accident, and he wrote it right then. He named it upon learning the devastating news the following day.
The other misperception involves the sole lyric of the song. This is often transcribed as “Life is a delicate thing”, when Elton is actually singing “Life isn’t everything”.
“Layla” Was An Alias For Pattie Boyd. She Was The Wife Of George Harrison, One Of Clapton’s Best Friends.
“Layla” was an alias for Pattie Boyd, the (then) wife of George Harrison. She was a British model of singular looks who had also captivated John Lennon and Mick Jagger. Clapton would eventually succeed in stealing her from Harrison. And it is very interesting to note that the friendship between the two men ran so deep that when Clapton and Boyd married in 1979, Harrison was among the attendees…
The whole “Layla And Other Assorted Love Songs” was actually built upon a distortion of reality. Clapton created a fantasy in which he was “Derek” and his backing band became “The Dominos”. Besides, Blind Faith had left a sour taste in his mouth and he wanted to keep a lower profile for a while.
Andy picked the name XTC while watching a skit in which Jimmy Durante was looking for “the lost chord” (have you heard, Pete Townshend??). At one point, the American performer exclaimed “Dat’s, it, I’m in eks-tee-see!”. Andy failed to understand the phrase the first time around, and he only got what Durante was saying when he transcribed it phonetically. It was then he also realized what a cool name XTC would be for a band – a name that is all in capitals lends itself to cooler posters and puns. Thus, “XTC” replaced the band’s old moniker (the gimmicky “The Helium Kidz”) right away.
Just for the record, the name XTC had nothing to do with the drug ecstasy. The drug was introduced a good couple of years down the line. The Swindon band amply preceded it.
Some People Think That The Names “Joy Division” And “New Order” Were Picked Because The Band Had Some Kind Of Nazi Sympathies. That Is A Misconception.
During the Second World War, Nazi officers stationed at concentration camps used the expression “Joy Division” in reference to the younger women imprisoned there – women that they frequently raped.
Ian Curtis, Stephen Morris, Peter Hook and Bernard Sumner settled for that name because all their fathers had fought in World War II. They just wanted a name that had some kind of connection to that armed conflict, as a way of referencing its true weight and how it had touched the lives of their parents.
The fact that the band rechristened itself “New Order” after Curtis died sometimes makes people think that the band had some kind of Nazi affinity – the concept of “New Order” was actively featured in Hitler’s “Mein Kampf”. But that is a mistake. There were no Nazy sympathies of any kind at play. As a matter of fact, the band didn’t even pick the name “New Order” themselves. It was chosen by Rob Gretton, the band’s manager at the time after reading an article on a newspaper about Kampuchea and “the new order” of people living there.
Issued As A Single In 1968, The Song “(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay” by Otis Redding (1941 - 1967) Was The First Posthumous Release By An American Artist To Ever Top The US Charts.
Otis Redding (1941 – 1967) was the first American artist to have a posthumous number one single. The song “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” (released one month after the plane crash that ended his life) achieved that distinction.
Janis Joplin (1943 – 1970) and Jim Croce (1943 – 1973) would then become the second and the third artist respectively to hit the top of the American charts posthumously. Janis did it with Kris Kristofferson-penned “Me and Bobby McGee” (from the successful “Pearl”, issued in 1971), and Jim with a song he had written about his yet-to-be-born son, “Time In A Bottle”.
Jimmy Page Played On The Who’s First Single “I Can’t Explain/Bald Headed Woman”. Producer Shel Talmy Used Him Extensively In Those Days.
Yes, it is true. He played on their debut single, “I Can’t Explain/Bald Headed Woman”. The single was produced by Shel Talmy. He was famous for barring bands from playing on their own records, and for using session players to get the job done instead. The Kinks (the first British hit band he produced) had to put up with that for quite some time.
When The Who went into the studio to record their first single, they found themselves outnumbered by session men. These included a trio of singers named The Ivy League, and a young (but already legendary) Jimmy Page. Talmy used him in all his sessions whenever possible.
Page was supposed to play the lead both on “I Can’t Explain” and “Bald Headed Woman”. However, in order to play the “I Can’t Explain” riff a twelve-string Rickenbacker was needed. Page didn’t have one. Townshend did. And he would have lost an arm before lending it to Page. So The Who’s frontman was the one who played the lead, while Page strummed along. Continue reading →