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Tune Tag #6 with Britta Pejic: Bowie, Small Faces, U2, Chris de Burgh & More!
Tune Tag, for this round, travels through many genres, many eras, and many decades!
SEATING FOR TUNE TAG HAS COMMENCED, BRITTA!
For this Tune Tag, we happily welcome Britta Pejic (above, somewhere on the coast between France and Spain), whose musical Bandcamp page is clickable here, and her Britta’s Substack, can be found and subscribed to, here! One of my fave songs of hers:
How to Play: Each track Britta and I sent the other will have some tie-in with the one previously sent by the other player! Whether thematically or musically (or personnel), the challenge is to pick a common element for a song to send to the other player.
That element can be elusive or vague, or it could be obvious and easy to discern.
Please note: The comments written by each Tune Tag player are written in real time, before each see the comments from the other! In other words, Britta won’t see my comments until this is published (and, I only saw hers after I had written mine)!
Play along, if you’d like (which song would you follow with? Leave us a comment!), and consider playing Tune Tag with a friend!
Britta’s #1 Song Sent to Brad: James Gang “Ashes the Rain and I,” 1970
So, this is a beautiful song. The strings are fine. It stops. It starts. It builds. It’s epic. But I thought the nodule that may have caught Brad’s ear, which is most earworm worthy is the segment sampled in everyone’s favorite overused song in motivational PowerPoint presentations -Fatboy Slim’s “Right Here, Right Now”:
Brad’s response: I’m flattered Britta had such high hopes for what I’d know/like, etc! Here’s the disappointing run-down: I don’t recall ever hearing that James Gang song, although I was very aware of Joe Walsh and that album at the time (I was 15 in 1970), although I didn’t own it.
I probably listened to it at a friend’s house after my band, Brimstone (for whom I was lead singer for a couple years…that story’s readable by clicking here), chose “Walk Away” from their Thirds album (released in April 1971) to add to our set. Their “Ashes” song is oddly pretty and orchestrated for a rock band in 1970 not otherwise involved in a rock opera.
Britta mentioned PowerPoint presentations…things I avoided (especially if they threatened to be “motivational”) in my working days, almost as much as I steered clear of anything called “meetings.” Which means I also know as much about “Gravity-Challenged” Slim as he knows about me. So, I don’t know from “Right Here, Right Now.”
A strike-out all around except for noticing that this unfortunately-monikered Slim cat is really one Norman Cook, who once drew a paycheck as bassist/vocalist for ‘80s indie rockers, The Housemartins! In December 1986, they had a #1 international acapella hit with the Isley Brothers spin-off group, Isley-Jasper-Isley’s “Caravan of Love”:
Brad’s #1 Song Sent to Britta: David Bowie “Ashes To Ashes,” 1980
I played it easy (or lazy; pick one), not wanting to really challenge Britta, whom I just met. So, matching the “Ashes” in the previous James Gang song, I went with the far-too-obvious Bowie song from his Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) album. And, of course, she got it!
I quickly learned my lesson, and knew she was more than up to the task from here on in!
Britta’s response: It was “Ashes” that led the trajectory!! “Ashes to Ashes” by David Bowie [co-directed, with Bowie, by British director, David Mallet, it was the most expensive music video produced at the time, at £250,000].
Britta’s #2: Small Faces, “Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake,” 1968
Brad’s response: I have no idea why Britta followed the Bowie with this odd Small Faces instrumental. My only connection would be a British one, but she’s got to have something else (and more) up her sleeve! My only personal connection with this album (I never owned it) was my late-’70s record store days.
I knew the original release featured a rounded jacket to match the record (shown above), while subsequent (and cheaper to produce) editions had jackets that housed the vinyl in a traditional square sleeve. I can’t even recall the album in the control rooms of the two mid-’70s FM radio stations I worked at, although by that time, the record had morphed into the square iteration.
Britta’s rationale: Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a big fan. I used to live in Austin, Texas where I used to go see Ian “Mac” McLagan play his weekly gig! This guy played with Small Faces, Faces, Stones, Dylan, Bonnie Raitt, Billy Bragg. Not! Fair!
[Brad: Britta might be surprised to know my home has been Austin for the past 3 decades! McLagan, a proud Austinite for 20 years, had gotten quite a lot of local press prior to his untimely passing, at 69, in December 2014.] A good example:
But, if there ever was a rock and roller who aged gracefully and joyfully, it was Mac [the name he insisted being called]. He was the kindest, sweetest chap with the most wry sense of humour who stood at a towering 5’5”. I Googled his height.
The other Small Faces hovered around the same height.
So, what is the “Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake” (the track, not the whole album-that would be a whole other can of ballgames) connection with Bowie’s “Ashes to Ashes”? The piano!
In “Ashes,” it is played by Roy Bittan (on loan from Springsteen’s E Street Band), and his piano is fed through an Eventide Instant Flanger to give it a wiggly destabilizing jello effect:
This makes the songs both playful and creepy…such a winning combination! Mac used a wah-wah effect on the piano in “Ogden’s,” which gives it such a wonderful and evil psychedelic effect. This song was a slowed down and repurposed instrumental version of an earlier track, “I’ve Got Mine” from 1965 (featuring Steve Marriott on lead vocals). This song was featured in the film from the same year, Dateline Diamonds (with Small Faces pre-Mac, who replaced keyboardist, Jimmy Winston, in 1966):
Brad’s #2: David McCallum, “The Edge,” 1967
Britta’s response: Where did Brad take it from here? “The Edge” by David McCallum? Why? His father, David McCallum Sr. led the exquisite string section in “Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake”!
Brad’s rationale: Well, she got me! I, indeed, chose “The Edge” because “Ogden’s” uses orchestral flourishes from a string section led by David McCallum Sr. (an orchestral violinist, and the father of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. star, the late David McCallum, whose mom, Dorothy Dorman, was a cellist).
I enjoyed the McCallum/Robert Vaughn TV spy drama (The Man From U.N.C.L.E.), which ran on NBC from 1964 (I was 9) through January ‘68, and recall seeing McCallum the younger (who played Russian spy, Ilya Kuryakin) in the teen mags I was reading to keep up with The British Invasion!
Apparently, McCallum’s “The Edge” has been sampled by Dr. Dre as the intro and riff to the track “The Next Episode,” “M.I.A.” by Missin’ Linx, “No Regrets” by Masta Ace, “Actions” by John Legend, and “Murderer (live acoustic video)” by British musician, Ren.
McCallum’s “The Edge” also appears on the soundtracks to the 2008 video game Grand Theft Auto IV and the 2017 film Baby Driver. Having never heard or seen any of the above, I’ll have to take Wiki’s word for it!
Britta’s #3: U2, “Wire,” 1984
Not a big stretch of the imagination: Title of Brad’s second song contribution = name of the U2 guitar player. But let’s see if he runs with the Brian Eno theme!! Nope! Song title——>band name…(see below)
Brad’s response: It didn’t surprise me that Britta came with U2, having given her the song I gave her! Which only left me with the simple thread from the U2 song title to the late ‘70s edgy Wire, with a familiarly-numbered song:
Brad’s #3: Wire, “12 X U,” 1977
From the band’s November 1977 Pink Flag debut comes this “12 X U.” I gave them a shot at the time (at 22, and having pounced on “the punk thing”), and bought the album, but it didn’t find a home on my turntable.
I was fascinated by drummer, Robert Grey’s official punk name at the time, Robert Gotobed, and secretly wished other rockers would adopt childhood Mom-directives as last names, like Tommy Takeoutthetrash, or Billy Getdressedandgotoschoolandsteponitnoreallyi’mnotkidding. Robert, you were light years ahead of the rest.
Britta’s response: Love this band. Love the album, Pink Flag, and Chairs Missing, their second album, followed by 154. These three albums were produced by Mike Thorne, but engineered by Paul Hardiman….who produced…
Britta’s #4: Chris de Burgh, “Lady in Red,” 1986
Hardiman produced “Lady in Red.” This I find hard to believe! I mean, this song was met with such critical acclaim [Brad: and scorn]!! According to various sources:
The song tends to divide public opinion and it was voted the tenth most annoying song of all time in a poll commissioned by Dotmusic in 2000. It was one of only two singles in the top ten which were not novelty songs, according to BBC News.
It was also voted the third worst song of the 1980s by readers of Rolling Stone. It was chosen as the sixth worst love song of all time by Gigwise, who said that “it is destined to grate on you at weddings forever more.” In a 2001 poll of more than 50,000 (UK public TV) Channel 4 viewers and readers of UK’s The Observer, the song was voted the fourth most-hated #1 single, according to The Guardian.
Brad’s #4: Desi Arnaz, “Lady in Red,” 1952 (written in 1935 by Allie Wrubel, Mort Dixon)
Britta’s response: That all said, I definitely like the Desi Arnaz “Lady in Red” better!! That was really fun! Thanks for enlisting me for TT!