Round about 1990/91, John Peel played a version of I Can’t Stand Up For Falling Down on his late night Radio 1 show. It was loose, sloppy and fairly fantastic and I’m almost positive he said it was by Nirvana. Given the year, this would be the post-Beach/pre-Nevermind globe straddling Nirvana. Peel mentioned something about a Japanese compilation called Teriyaki Asthma, and though I can find these albums online, as far as I can see there’s no mention of …Can’t Stand Up… on any of them. No matter where I search or who I ask, I can’t seem to find a recording of it anywhere. To all intents and purposes, it just doesn’t exist. Or does it? Over to you…
For years I was under the impression that I Can’t Stand Up For Falling Down was an Elvis Costello original. It was released on 1980’s ‘Get Happy’ but began life in more dubious circumstances. Following the collapse of Radar (the label Costello recorded for up until this point) and fresh from producing The Specials’ first album, his manager Jake Riviera approached 2 Tone with the idea of releasing the track as a one-off single until a label was found and a deal was struck to release the Get Happy LP. WEA, owners of Radar, were not impressed. Given that they had been distributing his records, they felt that they had a stake in Costello’s success and promptly served a writ on 2 Tone, stopping them releasing the record.
The few thousand 7”s that had been pressed were given away at a Rainbow Theatre gig in London, and Riviera sneakily pressed up some more which were given away at other London and American gigs. Interviewed in Record Collector No 363, Jerry Dammers takes a slightly different view point :
“Jake Riviera cheekily printed up a few thousand Elvis Costello singles on the 2 Tone label, obviously thinking that I would be delighted to have such a major star on the label, but I was having none of it, 2 Tone being strictly ska at that time. So Elvis was forced to give these singles away free at his gigs.”
These 2 Tone singles are now ridiculously collectible. If you have one it’s worth checking out what the 2 Tone nuts’ll pay for it. Disappointingly, my version
comes from a Best of 2 Tone
CD I got about 20 years ago. No cash-in for me.
Hipsway. Glasvegas taking notes just out of shot.
For years I was met with blank stares and sneering indifference from trying-too-hard-to-be-cool wankers in West of Scotland record shops whenever I asked for Hipsway (aye, really!) doing It’s A Family Affair
, until I found out it was just called Family Affair
. I had seen Hipsway play it live and assumed it was an old b-side or something, having never heard Sly Stone at this point in my life. I doubt those wankers behind the counter had heard Sly either cos no-one ever corrected me and pointed out what it was I might be asking for. Even the nice wee old woman who worked behind the counter in RS McColl’s record department (best record shop in the world by the way!) at Irvine Cross couldn’t help me. I got into soul music big time when I worked in record shops myself and had access to all these artists I had heard of but never heard. That was when I discovered that many of the records I liked were cover versions. The Jam doing Stoned Out Of My Mind
? That’s a Chi-Lites cover, man! The Black Crowes doing ‘Hard To Handle’
? That’s an Otis Redding cover! And it’s not as good as the original (of course). Elvis Costello doing I Can’t Stand Up For Falling Down
? That’s an old Sam & Dave
song. Is it? Oh, so it is! But whereas the Elvis version is an uptempo new wavey 2 minute wonder, Sam & Dave’s original
is a different kettle of crawfish altogether.
Sam & Dave. Or Dave & Sam. I’m no’ sure.
Theirs is an exhausted, knees-to-the-floor, crumpled in a pool of sweat, southern soul tearjerker. Half the speed of Costello’s with twice the soul and despair, it’s a belter. What makes it all the more amazing is when you know the story of Sam & Dave. For most of their time together, they barely spoke to one another. They had separate dressing rooms. They turned up separately to shows. By the 70s, one of them might not even turn up at all. Which made it difficult for the promoter promoting the Sam & Dave Show. Sam had aspirations for going solo. Dave resented this. Sam hated the ‘Sam & Dave Show’ material they were made to perform. On stage, they would constantly try and out-do one another, which made for outrageous dance-offs and a frenzied live performance. Following the 1967 Stax/Volt tour of Europe, Otis Redding refused to go on after them as night after night they brought the house down – Follow that Otis and all that. Aye, Sam & Dave’s version is the real deal. Though not as good as the cover……
*Apologies for the layout/font/spacing etc. My computer’s having an off day.