Friday, 21 May 2010

Great origin myths of rock and roll

Following hotly on from yesterday's post (thanks to those who sent me their contributions), the same friend has just emailed with another task.

This one I confess I'm struggling with. He wants album titles (exclusively British ones at that) that are seemingly incomprehensible but have an interesting story behind them. Examples he gives are Disraeli Gears by Cream (apparently a mispronunciation by a roadie of bicycle "derailleur gears") and Pink Floyd's Ummagumma (allegedly slang for sex).

So far I haven't been able to think of anything that quite fits the bill. My Life in the Bush of Ghosts sounds a bit mysterious but is just named after a book. Ogden's Nut Gone Flake is just an imaginary tobacco brand referencing the tradition of keeping one's stash in a tobacco tin.

Although this latter example makes me think that an interesting list for the book might be to gather together all the British song and album titles that are elliptical references to drugs and drug taking—a huge and controversial corpus. (Golden Brown, Brown Sugar, Ebeneezer Goode, erm, Puff the Magic Dragon, etc.)

Or, for something more challenging, how about British songs that make elliptical references to masturbation? I could only think of two off the top of my head—Turning Japanese by the Vapours and Pink Thing by XTC. Oh, and I'm told that Teenage Kicks by the Undertones is also about wanking.

A brief search of the internet, however, also throws up Pump It Up by Elvis Costello, Dancing With Myself by Billy Idol, Blind Vision by Blancmange, St Swithin's Day by Billy Bragg, Desperate But Not Serious by Adam Ant, Far Too Hard by Dead of Alive, Close to Me by The Cure, Every Day I Die by Gary Numan, Hit It by The Beat, Lift Me Up by Howard Jones, Eve's Volcano (Covered With Sin) by Julian Cope, Touching Me, Touching You by Squeeze, Mother Fist by Marc Almond and Sat in Your Lap by Kate Bush. Some of these may need verification…

Incidentally one such online list had a post by someone alleging to be the Undertones' manager, insisting that Teenage Kicks is not about wanking and demanding it be removed from the list. I wonder how much of his time he has to spend doing that.

Any ideas out there for any of these?

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