Can you create a good album with songs by alliterative artistes? Rebellious Mixtape will be your music and your friend
Before social media became a thing, we used to stand out from the competition by using catchy names and jingles. ‘Murray’ would always rhyme with ‘hurry’ among Baby Boomers because of a 1950s advertising jingle.
Very much of that time, till the internet came into being, calling a business ‘A1 Associates’ was better than ‘Zzzap Consultancy’. ‘A’ meant being an early entry in the GPO (later BT) Phone Book. If you wanted Zzzzzz Beds instead of AA Snooze, it was right at the back of the book.
The very name, Murray Mints, is also memorable thanks to the use of alliteration. Likewise with Brooke Bond, because the addition of ‘Bond’ sounded good. For similar reasons, alliterative artistes and popular music group names trip off the tongue of many music lovers quite easily.
For our first Rebellious Mixtape in what seems like an eternity, we have An Awesome Alliterative Album. Like any good mixtape, there will be some popular tunes and not-so-popular tunes. (We mustn’t forget that the alliterative compilation compiler of legendary status, Ashley Abram did the same).
- Shine, Take That (2005);
- Anyone Of Us (Stupid Mistake), Gareth Gates (2002);
- Right Here, Right Now, Jesus Jones (1991);
- Don’t Care, Klark Kent (1978);
- Secret Love, Kathy Kirby (1963);
- Love On Your Side, The Thompson Twins (1983);
- The Deadwood Stage, Doris Day (1953);
- Genius, Quando Quango (2003);
- Ha! Ha! Said The Clown, Manfred Mann (1967);
- What Have You Done For Me, Lately?, Janet Jackson (1986).
Filed under ‘Music For Going To Morrisons To’, we open the compilation with Take That’s Shine, one of the group’s most celebrated numbers from their Second Coming. Most famously (or infamously), it has had a limpet style hold on the Bradford-based store chain due to its use in their adverts. Unsurprisingly it used to be played in their supermarkets to death (see also the ubiquitousness of Jess Glynne’s Hold My Hand on Jet2 flights).
Sticking with Bradford, one of the city’s most famous musical exports is Gareth Gates. Finishing second place to Will Young in Pop Idol, Mr. Gates had a profitable career after the reality TV series. Following his first single, Anyone Of Us (Stupid Mistake) has the classic hallmarks of a reality TV schmaltzy single: triumph over adversity, romance, and a key change near the end. It has held up pretty well.
The next track, Jesus Jones’ Right Here, Right Now, is unmistakably early 1990s. Yet the lyrics in this post-Second Summer of Love tune is faintly political. Political without going into Crass territory, more like Genesis though less direct than Land of Confusion.
Somehow, our next track segues our GGR (Gratuitous Genesis Reference) with a member of The Police. Hugh Padgham worked on both Genesis’ Invisible Touch album and The Police’s work. As Klark Kent, Stewart Copeland’s Don’t Care is a decent chunk of new wave music.
Whereas Klark Kent’s tune is one approach to a love song, Kathy Kirby’s Secret Love is different again. It is a cover version of the Doris Day song. Yet another love song is Love On Your Side by The Thompson Twins. That was their first smash hit in the UK, faring better than their previous tune, Lies.
Returning to Doris Day, The Deadwood Stage from Calamity Jane, is reputed to be the first record to have been purchased by Pete Waterman. The Hit Man was also on Pop Idol as a judge and in Peter Kay’s overlooked spoof on reality TV programmes (Britain’s Got the Pop Factor… and Possibly a New Celebrity Jesus Christ Soapstar Superstar Strictly on Ice).
Next up is a bit of Mancunian musical joy from Quando Quango. The electronic group featured Simon Topping (late of A Certain Ratio) and Mike Pickering. Released in 1985, Genius from the album Pigs + Battleships, sounds fresh today. After being years ahead of time with Quando Quango, Mike Pickering would have greater success with M People.
The next piece couldn’t be any more different: a nice bit of 1960s beat music from Manfred Mann. You would have expected me to choose Doo Wah Diddy, but your writer says ‘never assume anything’. We chose Ha! Ha! Said The Clown from 1967, a number that seems to be forgotten about on golden oldie stations these days.
For the last track on side one, I shall stake a personal claim (regular readers would understand what I am about to say). This tune from 1986 always reminds me of my first four days at Ewing School. My four-day assessment period before joining in January 1987. It is the excellent What Have You Done For Me, Lately?. What I liked about the tune back then was Jimmy Jam’s and Terry Lewis’ magic in the studio. It still sounds fresh in 2020, ageing better than Nasty Boys.
- Church of the Poison Mind, Culture Club (1983);
- Is There Something I Should Know?, Duran Duran (1983);
- Bulldozer, Oliver Onions (1978);
- Love Missile F1-11, Sigue Sigue Sputnik (1986);
- Monkey Business, Danger Danger (1991);
- Jilted John, Jilted John (1978);
- This Ole House, Shakin’ Stevens (1981);
- La Bamba, Los Lobos (1987);
- Somewhere Down The Crazy River, Robbie Robertson (1988);
- Steppin’ Out, Joe Jackson (1982).
Causing commotion in the early 1980s (1982 to be precise) was a multicultural band headed by George O’Dowd. When Do You Really Want To Hurt Me? marked the group’s breakthrough, all eyes were focused on the lead singer’s sexuality (the bedsteads). Church of the Poison Mind is one of my favourite works from Culture Club, because it sounds like a Northern Soul track in parts. If you want another Peter Kay reference, it was used in the Mr Softy Top episode of That Peter Kay Thing for The Bolton Show scenes.
Also from the same year was Duran Duran’s first Number One single in the UK singles chart. Is There Something I Should Know? is also the second track into the first Now! That’s What I Call Music compilation album. For me, their strongest single from 1983 (Union of the Snake comes close).
Our next tune was used for a film featuring a retired American Footballer nicknamed Bulldozer. The film, which took his name, starred Bud Spencer and included a cameo appearance by Joe Bugner. Listening to Bulldozer, you couldn’t help thinking that The Automatics might have borrowed from that tune for Monster.
Its composers, Guido and Maurizio De Angelis are known collectively as Oliver Onions. The name was taken from a Bradford author, George Oliver Onions. As to who coined the name, it was one-time member Susan Duncan-Smith, the sister of Chingford and Woodford Green MP Iain Duncan-Smith. (As we are good like that, here’s the tune – Ed).
Whereas Oliver Onions was inspired by a Yorkshireman, alliterative music maestro Malcolm McLaren (with Tony James from Generation X) gave us Sigue Sigue Sputnik. The name was taken from a Russian street gang. Needless to say, we couldn’t resist adding their first tune, Love Missile F1-11 to the mixtape.
Next up is a bit of Monkey Business by Danger Danger. The band from New York City are very much in the same vein as Warrant and Aerosmith and still perform to this day. Their biggest UK hit single (peaking at Number 42) featured on their second album Screw It.
From alliterative artistes, we move on to alliterative songs by alliterative artistes. If you guessed Graham Fellows, John Shuttleworth, or Jilted John, congratulations as the first two answers are equally valid. Jilted John is a comic creation of comedian Graham Fellows, and his send-up of punk music peaked at Number Four in the UK singles chart.
Next up is a cover version of Rosemary Clooney’s This Ole House. The Welsh singer that brought it to a new audience was Shakin’ Stevens. Throughout 1981 and 1982, he was topping charts across the UK and Europe. This tune is no exception with a three-week stint at the top spot in the UK singles chart.
This is followed by another Number One, which also happens to be a cover version. The original version of La Bamba was sung by Ritchie Valens. In 1987, Los Lobos’ cover appeared in the film La Bamba. Its more Latin American leanings worked well in ’87, and proved to be a good little mover when it was heard in TV advertisements for Vauxhall.
Offering a more relaxed air, we move from cars and films to trains in our penultimate song. The Blue Train inspires Robbie Robertson’s Somewhere Down The Crazy River. It appeared on his self-titled album from 1987, co-produced by Daniel Lanois and Peter Gabriel. Before striking out his own accord, he worked with Bob Dylan (on The Basement Tapes) and Joni Mitchell (on The Hissing of Summer Lawns). The promo video was directed by Martin Scorsese.
For our final track, we go over to a long-time favourite tune of mine. I have loved this song since its initial release when I was three years old. I love how the song paints pictures of a dark New York City, even though it always reminded me of the St. Peter’s Precinct wind tunnel on Oldham Market Place. In January. With orange and white buses. Or the taxi queue outside C&A. With the young S.V. finding some mild stimulation from the illuminated ‘TAXI’ lights.
Yes, we finish our Rebellious Mixtape on alliterative artistes with Joe Jackson’s Steppin’ Out. This is by far his best known song, peaking at Number Six in the UK singles chart. It closes The Night Side of his excellent 1982 album Night and Day.
Before we finish, let’s close with the single mix of Joe Jackson’s most famous tune. On vinyl.
Are we due for An Awesome Alliterative Album Part Two?
As always, feel free to add to the list. Maybe suggest a few more for a potential follow-up playlist. We at East of the M60 already have a few more suggestions, though we would welcome a few more to our list. Right, I’m about to chase that elusive Andy Arthurs tune, or listen to some more stuff by Oliver Onions.
S.V., 06 March 2020.