Hard-to-find, Kraut-y, Stinky

J-J-J-Jack (and Jill) Yr Body

Loose Booty is perhaps the standout track on America Eats Its Young, the 4th album by Funkadelic. A leftover from George Clinton’s Parliament days, it’s a one-chord groove, packed full of dental-bothering basslines and duh-duh-duh doowop counter vocals fighting for your attention with an out of control clavinet. Imagine a drunk 70s Stevie Wonder, or an excitable class of Primary 5s being let loose on the keys for a few minutes and you’re some way there. Despite the irritating keyboard line, fonky honkys might be inclined to call the track ‘phat’. Certainly, it grooves in all the right places.

FunkadelicLoose Booty

The lyrics, bizarre as they are, are meandering and drug-addled, mixing nursery rhymes with a self-aware social conscience. Imagine a Bummed-era Shaun Ryder (“Chicken Lickin’, Turkey Lurkey“) in one of his less lucid moments. Desperately trying to get out from between the grooves is an anti-drugs message – “Eeny Meeny Miney Mo, catch a junkie by the toe...”, which, given that half the band were on another planet altogether at the time is a bit rich.

You might think Funkadelic called the track Loose Booty on account of some hot woman or other, or because the funkiness of it all causes your own booty to shake uncontrollably, but in fact it’s so-called because of the effects of heroin withdrawal. Gads. Jack your body indeed.

My kids like it because they can sing half the words. I mean, how many times have you heard the Jack & Jil l Went Up The Hill nursery rhyme in a song?



Funnily enough, those forward-thinking Germans Can utilised that self same rhyme in one of their groovier moments. I like Can. Not always an easy listen, but I’m ok with that. I prefer them at their wild and funkiest though, when they riff on a chord or a groove for 16 hours or whatever it may be.

Pauper‘s Daughter And I from 78’s ‘Out Of Reach‘ LP does just that.

CanPauper’s Daughter And I

Despite being the only Can album not to feature Holger Czukay (causing it to be subsequently disowned by the group), it’s still got the Can sound; a non-stop beat (in this case a four-to-the-floor ‘n hi-hat disco shuffle) expertly played instruments and a babble of pidgin English floating on top.

It might even pass for early Talking Heads if you didn’t know. The first Michael Karoli guitar riff that comes chiming in is all clean-picked, high up the frets riffing of the sort Johnny Marr might’ve made more of had he spent his formative years in Mozambique rather than Manchester.

It quickly seesaws from the sublime to the ridiculous though, so just as you’re getting into the swing of it, Karoli turns on the flash and an incessant, seemingly never-ending noodling guitar appears. It’s like Guitar Guitar on a Saturday afternoon, only worse. The temporary vocalist, feeling like he needs to do something, jumps in with a straight-faced run through of Jack & Jill Went Up The Hill while the rest play on regardless. It’s quite bonkers. Or shite (depends on what you’re smoking) and the whole thing continues until Michael Karoli has disappeared up his own jacksie and noodled on down to sell his soul at the prog crossroads.


Cover Versions, demo, Stinky

Weller Weller Weller oops

elo 72

10538 Overture was the debut single by the Electric Light Orchestra. It was written by Jeff Lynne and produced by Roy Wood when he was still in The Move, pretentiously given the ‘Overture‘ title and prompted the split of the band. Released in 1972, it was the love child of I Am The Walrus and The Who’s more bombastic moments; a Heinz 57 variety pack of swooshing synths, see-sawing cellos, minor key breakdowns, ELO’s trademark multi-tracked vocals….and a terrifically cod-psychedelic, eastern-tinged descending guitar riff.

10538 Overture

10538 Overture would eventually appear on ELO’s self -titled debut LP, with it’s big, ambitious sound a portent of things to come. In America, the same album was released as ‘No Answer‘, after the man from the US record company phoned the band to get the name of the LP. No one picked up, the under-assistant west coast promo man wrote ‘no answer‘ on his paper, left his desk, and someone picked up his note and ran off to the printers where the sleeve was being assembled. True story, that.

Perhaps drawn in by the backwards Beatlish bits and the windmilling Townshend chords and Moonisms on the drums as 10538 Overture drags itself to a bloated end, Paul Weller‘s magpie-like antennae pricked up. “That descending guitar riff,” he thought. “I’m having that.”…..

Weller demo:

weller 95A shame-faced Paul hides his head

Welding it on to a mid-life crisis of a lyric, Weller gave birth to The Changingman, lead single from the epoch-defining Stanley Road LP. Named after a picture his son had drawn – “Who’s that?” “It’s the changingman, daddy,” the single reached number 7 in the charts, at the time a career best for the solo Paul.

This is where it gets a wee bit muddled. On the LP, the track is credited solely to Weller, but if you consult that last bastion of credibility Wikipedia, you’ll see that Weller shares the writing credits with 3 others – Brendan Lynch, his producer of choice at the time who added the ambient textures and wonky noises (his remixes from this time are terrific) that lift the track above bog standard r’nb fare, a certain R. Wood who we now know all about, and, most interestingly of all, forgotten cult hero and Syd Barrett for the Brit-Pop genearation, Lee Mavers.

The Changingman LP/Single version:

Quite what Mavers’ involvement in the writing of the song was is unclear (if any), although around that time he was in a bit of a sorry state through drugs. It’s been suggested that Paul Weller took one of Lee’s unreleased tunes and built Changingman on top of it. Some of the lyrics (‘the more I see the more I know, the more I know the less I understand‘) are kinda La’s-ish as well. Weller, on Go! Discs, as was Mavers at the time (or was he still, in 1995?), also had Lee open a few shows for him. Maybe he was just trying to help him out, a support slot here, a writing credit there,  but as you’ll know already, Mavers is pretty comfortably well-off thanks to the regular royalties he receives for There She Goes (between £5000-£10000 a month, depending on where you read). Maybe Bo Diddley nut Lee contributed the percussive backbeat that gives the track it’s mid 60s swagger towards the end. Who knows? I need to investigate further…

The Changingman Radio1 Evening Session 8th May, 1995 (Exactly one week before the album release);

rod 90sRod Weller

Around the same time as Weller was releasing Stanley Road, an ill-advised Rod Stewart was assembling a catalogue of contemporary tracks of the day that would make up a covers LP. When I first heard about this album, I immediately thought of it as similar in spirit to Bowie’s Pin Ups LP. Primal Scream’s Rocks. Cigarettes And Alcohol. Skunk Anansie’s Weak. All would be filtered through the Rod voice and into the Mondeos and family saloons of 40-something Britain. There was even space for a (terrific) track by Scottish underachievers Superstar that would make writer Joe McAlinden very wealthy.  At the sessions, Rod tackled The Changingman with all the gusto of a prime time Faces, although the finished version comes across as a highly polished piece of session musician rawk and nothing like the raggedy arsed Faces it could’ve been. Consequently, it never made the final cut.

The Changingman Rod Stewart version;

Never has a singer betrayed his talent quite like Rod.

But that’s for another day.



I’m lucky I no longer have to work weekends, so after five days at the coal face of reality, I strive to make my Saturdays and Sundays last as long as possible. Until they invent a pill that enables me to stay up all night and lie in bed all day while my kids amuse themselves, and I still have 15 hours left over in which to carry out the various family/home/leisure pursuits I like to do, I try to trick myself into believing the weekend lasts longer than just two quick days. To use an analogy – anyone who attends football regularly will know that the second half always flies in faster than the first. Especially if you’re at Rugby Park and the home team are chasing a goal that’s never going to happen.  Sundays always go faster than Saturdays, it’s the unwritten law of the working man’s land. Saturday night therefore tends to be the night I stretch things out into the wee small hours. Saturday night just gone found me channel hopping, delaying the inevitability of half the weekend drawing to a close.  Flicking through the assorted music channels cluttering up my telly I happened upon a live concert of the Red Hot Chili Peppers (that’s one ‘l’ in ‘chili’, school boys ‘n girls). After 2 minutes of glass-at-45-degrees, bleary-eyed watching I had a bit of a lightbulb moment…..

Has there ever been a band as insipid, as derived, as contrived, as shitty as Red Hot Chili Peppers?

No. There has not.

It’s the sweat. It’s the muscle. It’s the jock rock sock-on-the-cock shlock of it all. Four back-slapping, hi-fiving, bro-mancing dudes, at least 3 of whom are no strangers to a set of GHDs, in a display of tops-off, homo-erotic machismo. Goodness knows what Google hits are going to land here now that I’ve said that, but there you go.

rhcp gif(you might need to click for full effect)

I can’t stand the way every second of their existence is presented to look and sound like an extreme workout. Flea (Flea! Gie’s a break – he’s about 63!) plays his bass as though he’s wrestling an angry Amazonian anaconda. He’s the ‘alternative’ one, all purple hair and Hendrix tattoos, equally at home in Thom Yorke’s Atoms For Peace or whatever of Damon Albarn’s side projects are going this week as he is a slap happy Chili Pepper.

And the perma-grimaced drummer – is he not called Chad or Brad or Rad or something equally dudealicious? Gives good face, but he’s not really there for the ‘music’, is he? He’s not really there, full stop. You shoulda seen him,  thick as a brick and bashing away with all the grit and determination of someone who has both eyes fiercely set on how his equity bonds are doing on the Dow Jones Index.

John Frusciante. He’s the one it’s probably OK to like. Makes solo records. About 16 a year, by all accounts. Hit and miss, but interesting. He stays on the sidelines, happy to hide behind his hair whilst firing off effortless super-cool rock riffs. Frusciante is the melody man. It’s his tunes that are mugged and mangled by the others who just can’t resist the opportunity of adding in one of those horrible white boy rap sections.

Those horrible white boy rap sections would be the fault of Anthony Kiedis. He really gets on ma goat. If they gave out prizes for turning good tunes bad, he’d win every time. Not content with ruining his own music, he even had the audacity to rearrange Stevie Wonder’s Higher Ground into a big pile of backwards-baseball-cap ‘n big shorts wearing mince. He’s in his 50s, for crying out loud. D’you ever see Nick Cave or Paul Weller in shorts?

rhcp green

And yet………

The have some good tunes. One and a half, to be precise:

Scar Tissue

Scar Tissue‘s their best. A simple riff. Clean lines. Three instruments not fighting for space.  Some sunny Californian harmonies. And no rapping. “Sarcastic know-it-alls“, “Push-up bras” and a perfect wee sky-surfin’ slide guitar part. I bought this when it came out. Played it to death on repeat, and I’ve never tired of it.

By The Way

By The Way‘s almost up there with Scar Tissue but it’s let down by those pointless white boy rap parts. They just can’t help themselves. Another decent riff with a tune and harmonies and everything, Flea goes and spoils it all by revving up the bass line and Kiedis starts going on about “steak knives” and “cash back” and whatever else pops into his head. You can practically see their collective six packs and baby-oiled biceps bulging between the grooves. Even the ever-reliable Frusciante goes all Limp Bizkit funk for half a minute. I bet there’s a great light show whenever they play it live though.

With the exception of the above tracks, they’re rotten really, aren’t they? Walkin’, talkin’, livin’ and breathin’ rock music cliches. To paraphrase Telly Savalas in that old advert – I know that. You know that. But they don’t know that.  Someone should really tell them. “Put some clothes on, eh!” Or put them down in a dignified manner, like you would an old stinky dog.