Spin Doctors – Two Princes (Leaping Ahead #91)

Leaping Ahead Project 2016 #91 (160331)

[A driving song]

Reaching No.3 in the UK on its 1993 release, this has featured on all of the driving compilations I’ve put together since on tape, CD and MP3. I’m having none of that ’50 worst songs of all time’ rubbish; this to me is an absolute cracker and worthy of a lot more praise than the critics gave it.

Patti Smith – Because the night (Leaping Ahead #90)

Leaping Ahead Project 2016 #90: 160330

[A song for soulmates]

From the ‘Easter’ album, this song, released in 1978, became our soulmate song, was the song we danced to at our wedding in July 1979 and remains a firm favourite 38 years later. We still have both copies of the 45 (‘Godspeed’ on the B side) we brought each other at the time. The song brings a smile every time – cos it’s definitely our song.

The Beatles – Please please me (Leaping Ahead #89)

Leaping Ahead Project 2016 #89: 160329

[A song from 1963]

Released on 11 January 1963, this was the second Beatles single in the UK and the first in the US. It did so well in the UK that Parlophone rush-released the album of the same name on 22 March 1963, primarily to capitalise on its success. It didn’t do so well stateside but, on its re-release in January 1964 with ‘From me to you’ on the B-side, leapt to No.3 in the Billboard 100.

Gay Dad – Joy (Leaping Ahead #88)

Leaping Ahead Project 2016 #88:160328

[Song from a band beginning with G]

Gay Dad were formed in 1994 by former Mojo and The Face journalist Cliff Jones and art magazine publisher Nick Crowe. Their debut album ‘Leisure Noise’ followed in June 1999 but despite initial good reviews, only made No. 14 in the UK album charts. The second single “Joy!” reached No. 22 in the UK but subsequently found its real fame in a Mitsubishi car advertisement, the football video game FIFA 2000, and TV shows including Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) and The Naked Chef. Gay Dad split in 2002.

Deep Purple’s ‘Smoke on the water’ (Leaping Ahead #86)

Leaping Ahead Project 2016 #86: 160326

[Favourite guitar song (3)]

I make no apologies here for repeating again the story behind the song – because it doesn’t get much better than this. Deep Purple had gone to Montreux in Switzerland to record their 1972 album, ‘Machine Head’, the original intention being to use the Casino with the Rolling Stones mobile studio. But at a Frank Zappa gig on 4 December 1971, a disastrous fire put paid to that. All was not lost though as the band relocated to the Grand Hotel to finish things off.

It was here that the remaining song needed for the album was written and recorded. Eventually becoming the opening track of side 2, “Smoke on the Water” was inspired by events just after the fire that engulfed the Casino. Frank Zappa had wisely called a prompt end to the gig once the fire (caused by an over-zealous fan firing a flare) had set fire to the casino ceiling and rapidly taken hold. Watching it from a nearby restaurant, Deep Purple bassist Roger Glover coined the song’s name from the layer of smoke gathering over Lake Geneva after the flames had died down. Ian Gillan penned the lyrics and that uber-famous guitar riff was written by Ritchie Blackmore

Radiohead – Everything in its right place (Leaping Ahead #85)

Leaping Ahead Project 2016 #85: 160325

[A song to chill to]

The opening track from Radiohead’s 2000 album ‘Kid A’, this was, however, never released as a single. Written by Thom Yorke in the shadow of the band’s 1997–1998 OK Computer tour, he recalled in an interview that it was their show in Birmingham that affected him the most; the time when he was beginning to fully realize the band’s sudden and unexpected fame. Immediately after the show he returned to his dressing room feeling burned out and helpless. “Everything in its right place” was written in 1999 reflecting an attempt to find normality; a realisation that everything in life has a place and usually for a good reason.

Yorke revealed in an interview that while promoting OK Computer, he was told he frequently exhibited a sour-faced look, hence the line “Yesterday I woke up sucking a lemon”. Other lyrics were drawn randomly from a hat in a process inspired by artist Tristan Tzara, whose instructions for “How to make a Dada poem” appeared on Radiohead’s website at this time.

I particularly relate to the line “There are two colours in my head”, a reference to the paintings of Mark Rothko, one of my favourite painters.