Voyage To The Bottom Of The Road
The title is obviously a less ambitious version of the 1961 film "Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea", which starred Walter Pidgeon. There was also a US TV show of the same name, starring Richard Basehart and David Hedison. Made in the '60s, much repeated throughout the '70s on ITV and seized upon in the '80s by Channel 4.
The character on the cover is Stretch Armstrong, a popular bendy toy from the early 80s, recently seen making a comeback in Argos (for slightly less than £24.99, I hope).
The photos on the inner sleeve are more interesting (recommendations below from Nigel):
The quote on the sleeve (and the back of the T-shirt) is from "The Wicker Man", a bona fide British eccentric near-classic from 1973 in the 'erotic paganism' mould; more of a cult favourite in the US than in Britain, starring Edward Woodward, Britt Ekland and Christopher Lee in drag. A policeman from mainland Scotland, Sgt Neil Howie (Woodward) was sent to a very small Scottish isle (inhabited by v. strange heathens) to investigate a missing girl. They are a tad upset 'cos their apple crops failed, and use Sgt Howie as a sacrifice to some Sun God or other. Just before they burn him alive in a giant Wicker construction he proclaims, "Killing me won't bring back your apples". He was probably right as there was never a Wicker Man 2.
Title taken from a book-length poem by frustrated, unrequited Edwardian gay Oxbridge academic AE Housman, about watching beautiful young men leave Shropshire to go off and get killed in the trenches (ta Dickon). It is also a piece of classical music by George Butterworth, frequently heard in TV programmes on World War I. Neil is apparently a bit of a swot on the subject (the war, that is).
"Shropshire Lad" is also a beer brewed by Wood's (no relation!).
Shropshire English county between the West Midlands and Wales.
Donnington Motor racing circuit; home of the Monsters of Rock festival.
Chirk Airfield Chirk is in Clwyd, Wales, just across the county (and country) border from Shropshire. Presumably there is an airfield there.
The Met The Meteorological Office - weather forecasting centre. I was under the impression they didn't do long range forecasts mind (though The Weather Channel would seem to suggest otherwise).
Boom Boom Boom ... Borrowed from the hit song "Boom Boom Boom" by The Outhere Brothers.
Hosepipe ban Introduced by water authorities in times of drought to cover up for their own inefficiency.
Columbia Hotel celebrity hostelry.
Isle of Man Island between Great Britain and Ireland.
Man Late 60s/early 70s Welsh rock band (pretty obvious really).
Charlie Slang for cocaine.
Bali Indonesian island.
Drake Nick Drake (not Charlie, though a good pun, Nigel), maudlin UK singer-songwriter from the late 60's - early 70's, who Belle & Sebastian are always being compared with. A very private man (even his record company didn't know him), he spent a large amount of time in his bedroom at his parents' house near Stratford-upon-Avon after the release of "Pink Moon" in 1972. He died there aged 26 on October 25, 1974 from an overdose of anti-depressants.
Superglue Fast, hard setting glue with plenty of comic potential.
Stromness is one of the two major conurbations on the Orkney Islands (Kirkwall being the other).
"Achtung, Edwardian lampoon" I feel an essay coming on...
Achtung common cry of German soldiers in Boys Own-type war comics.
Edwardian The song title is from an Edwardian epic poem. Despite being written in 1896, 'A Shropshire Lad' is usually lumped in as Edwardian literature in terms of style and theme, and also because it didn't really become well-known until WW1. Probably as it's mainly about lads in the prime of life meeting a premature death, often as soldiers being sent off to die on some muddy battlefield... "come you home a hero / or come not home at all"... Unlike yer Owens and yer Sassoons (Siegfried and his brother Vidal... ), it's not anti-war in the slightest. AE Housman clearly got a kick out of their untimely deaths... much like Nigel in the song. (ASL is really about Housman's homosexuality and the reason he appears to 'get a kick' out of untimely deaths of young men is because he uses it as a metaphor for their sexual attractiveness. An odd choice of metaphor but I guess in 19th Century England it was OK to romantacise about the violent death of young men but not about wanting to shag them).
Lampoon Housman was much lampooned for his style and the homosexual subject matter of his poetry - most famously with the lines "What? Still Alive at twenty-two? / A fine upstanding lad like you?" by the Edwardian parodist Hugh Kingsmill. And who else but Nigel would equate Housman's WW1 trench-popular verse with his equally gleeful account of sending unwitting heavy metal bands off to the site of a rain-cancelled rock festival, hoping they'll meet a similar futile, muddy end? (Thanks to Dickon and Matthew in Poetry Corner for this.)
Lots of religious references - "parish cruelty", "Let's go to chapel" - not sure of the significance.
Deptford Abyss Does this venue actually exist? Don't think so. Deptford is in SE London.
Jeff Dreadnought Made up(?) music journo with obligatory silly name.
Strat Stratocaster - popular make of guitar.
Stroud Gloucestershire town famous for meningitis outbreaks and being the home of Blurt's Ted Milton.
"Let's go to chapel" and not "Let's go to town", i.e. give it some welly.
My Coo Ca Choo was a hit for Alvin Stardust in the early 70s. This line only features on the Peel session version.
This is a remixed version to that which appears on the EP (which Carl Alty tells me was recorded (at least in part) in the living room of a house in Burtonwood, Warrington!). The other EP tracks not on the LP are here.
[Brian] Eno Former Roxy Music keyboards man, went into all this pretentious shite as a soloist and has since worked with just about everyone as a producer/musician, especially
Bono U2 lead singer.
[Yoko] Ono John Lennon's second wife. She split the Beatles up, you know.
Chrissie Hynde Lead singer of The Pretenders and all-round rock-chick. Bloody hell, this song's easy to do.
Ray-bans Designer sunglasses. The main difference between these and normal sunglasses is that the latter protect your wallet from the rays that burn holes in it.
"From The Indies To The Andies In His Undies" was recorded by the Hoosier Hot Shots in 1939.
Andes South American mountain range.
The Indies Depending on whether it's West or East, these islands are either in the Caribbean Sea or the Indian Ocean.
Montego Jamaican bay.
Aurora Borealis The Northern Lights (not the Renaissance song).
über alles From that most nationalistic of old national anthems, Deutschland Über Alles (Germany above everything).
Same version as on the "What's That Noise" E.P.
The title is based on the old Irish saying "Dead men tell no tales" often rendered as "Dead men don't tell tales". I think the direct influence though is Viv Stanshall's monstrous creation Sir Henry Rawlinson (of Rawlinson End) who exclaims "Dead men don't need haircuts" when he is about to give his two long-post war POW's a good thrashing. The Steve Martin film "Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid" doesn't come into it...(ta to Nigel Bell).
The Lakes The Lake District - picturesque popular holiday destination in NW England.
This song is choc-full of musical genres:
Deep House Just like house music, only Deeeeeeep, so I'm told.
New Romantic 1980s glam, synthesized pop with loads of make up and effeminate clothing
New Wave Post punk derivative, late 70s.
Riot Grrrl Early 90s, thrashy yelly girl-fronted bands, e.g. Huggy Bear, Bikini Kill.
Italian Speedcore At a guess, this is stuff like Black Box, Alex Party - repetitive thudding dance music. Possibly not, mind.
Handbag Another house derivative.
French Trance vets Gallic old-timers.
This is the same version as that on the "Eno Collaboration" E.P.
C.A.M.R.A. Campaign for Real Ale. Their live backdrop from Xmas 95 read D.R.A.B. which unfurled to read "Death to Real Ale Bores". They ain't got me yet, mister.
5% Ale under 5% alcohol can't be real ale, can it?
Hand-held pumps are a damn site better then those tap things.
The blackboard Most "Real Ale" pubs seem to have a list of beers available chalked up these days.
Belstaff Much research tells me that this is a manufacturer or range of motorcycle clothing.
Willie Rushton 60's satiricist, worked with all the usual suspects (Peter Cook, Dudley Moore, various Pythons, the Two Ronnies...), went for a sideways career move to Jackanory (kid's storytelling show) in the 70's, then spent most of his time impersonating Great Uncle Bulgaria from the Wombles. Tragically died December 1996.
Jack Dee Not in the single release, but replaced Willie Rushton on the Peel Session version. A droll stand-up man, who sits in pubs threatening penguins.
Sally James Tiswas (70's Saturday morning kids TV) presenter, something of an icon due to her providing a nation of pre-pubescent schoolboys with a one-woman wet T-shirt competition on a fairly regular basis.
Guess the guest... The guest being the "Guest beer". Have a habit of tasting crap when I have a go
Five Nations Rugby tournament, the Home nations and France. Now the Six Nations, with Italy joining to prevent Scotland coming last.
Cheap Trick Dodgy 70's rock band from Illinois, of an allegedly 'wacky' nature. Main man Rick Neilsen allegedly never took his baseball cap off. Read all about 'em here.
Budokan Venue in Japan, popular for recording live albums (Bob Dylan and, er, Blur have, anyway). The LP Cheap Trick At Budokan also exists, believe it or not.
Bonneville 750cc Triumph motorbike. Bonnevilles have the oil retention abilities of the Sea Empress, and owners driveways are usually marked by several slicks.
"You can really taste the hops!" From the Ben Truman advert on telly, a number of years back.
P.R.S. Performing Right Society. Mainly responsible for ensuring due royalties are paid to writers of covered songs, public broadcasts, etc.
Drawbridge Entrance to proper castles (i.e. not bouncy ones or Nottingham) that can be raised to keep out intruders. Oh, come on, everyone know's that...
Runrig Shyte Scottish band whose lead singer (Donnie Munro) stood in the 1997 General Election for the Labour Party in the Ross, Skye & Inverness West constituency (cheers Al!) and narrowly lost.
Mike Peters Lead singer with The Alarm.
Information Service Blame The Stranglers for starting this one back in 1976, "a fan club, but without the bullshit aimed at teenyboppers with a mental age of nine (to quote from the inside of their Dreamtime album)". Many more followed.
Agony Aunt Marje Proops and her clan, top at advising 12-year-old girls to tell their alcoholic father that they're pregnant.
Wings of a sparrow, arse of a crow From another footy song.
IRN Independent Radio News.
A&R Artistes and Repertoire - record company talent spotters.
Rock City, Notts Nottingham's premier gig venue and nightclub. Honest.
Cowes Port on the Isle of Wight famous for its regatta.
Stars in their Eyes Dreadful television show whereby people dress up as and try and emulate various singers. Hosted by Matthew Kelly for christ's sake. It's where the title comes from - "So, who are you going to be tonight, Fred? " "Tonight Matthew, I'm going to be Nick Cave." "Big Jesus soul makes trash can" indeed...
Factory Manchester record label owned by Tony Wilson, featuring the likes of Joy Division/New Order, ACR, Happy Mondays, hence Factory completist - one who owns all Factory releases. The most annoying thing about many Factory releases is the cover only said "FACT 45ff" or some pish like that with no indication of artist or album name on the cover. This meant non-Factory completists always had to open the tape box, etc. to see what was really inside.
"You come on like a dream ... Peaches and cream/ Lips like strawberry wine/ You're sixteen/ You're beautiful/ And you're mine" is a verse from You're Sixteen by Johnny Burnette, later covered by Ringo Starr.
Julian Bream was the first professional guitarist. Subject of This is Your Life 10/2/97.
David Vine Host of BBC snooker programmes and Ski Sunday amongst other sports commentating stuff these days, but was spotted hosting such delights as It's A Knockout, the Eurovision Song Contest and even Miss World in a previous life. Never noticed anything unusual about his lips, mind.
A country mile A long distance. Not quite sure why country miles are any different from normal miles. Probably cos there's a hedge in the way.
Koi carp Ostentatious fish.
Par 4 Yep, another golfing reference. I await John Daly's appearance in a HMHB lyric.
Fine harmonica and banjo from Andrew Holland on this dig at the arty-farty.
Orme Great and Little, two hills in North Wales (Llandudno). Popular suicide spots, and also the place to go for that first teenage dangerous liaison. They're visible from the Wirral, and like Abersoch and the rest of the North Wales coast much visited by people from over the water (who are subsequently blamed for any trouble that might occur there).
[David] Hockney "Interesting" art-type.
"road signs back to the council" More furniture, obviously must've been students.
bog side the toilet.
Gaulois French fags. Loads of other new age crap as well in this (the song, not the fags).
"I scream you scream we all scream for ice cream" was of course from some far off ice cream ad on the telly. Also appeared in one of the funniest scenes from Jim Jarmusch's film "Down by Law" (1986).
I Ching The Book of Changes, an ancient Chinese philosophical and literary classic dating back to around the 12th century BC. Its symbols are used for divination. A major influence on Confucianism and Taoism. History lesson over.
Spag bol is obviously spaghetti bolognase.
Soul Mates As well as the literal meaning, "Soul Mates" is also an advertising section in The Guardian (and now also The Observer), and is basically a contact service - one 'phones an 0898 number to listen to messages recorded by other sad lonely gits. It's probably advertised on late night telly as well.
"Say that again and I'll generalise yer" Think this is a Simon & Garfunkel reference.
Monmore Greyhound track near Wolverhampton.
Hare's running Shouted at the beginning of every greyhound race. Signifies that no more bets can be placed.
Weller-gram A reference to Paul Weller, former singer/guitarist with The Jam and Style Council. Now chief Dad-Rocker, he's a champion of many dire bands, most notably Ocean Colour Scene.
Sass a Sasparilla flavoured soft drink made exclusively by Marsh's Soft Drinks, Barrow-in-Furness. It is also a colloquialism for snakebite (Lager and cider) with blackcurrant cordial.
Paolo Hewitt Self-appointed Mod expert, part-time DJ and biographer of The Jam (Beat Concerto), Oasis and, "definitively", The Small Faces, whose "Lazy Sunday" is quoted in this self-same song...
Neighbours Aussie soap opera, shown on BBC1 at 1735hrs.
"Wouldn't it be nice ... to get on with your neighbours" is the opening line to The Small Faces' Lazy Sunday.
Albert Hall Posh concert venue in London.
Sellotape Adhesive tape brand, now used as generic name for such stuff. Once again, Nigel's reference to it is spot on - if no-one's experienced the same, they've never used it.
Waiting for the man Velvet Underground song.
Camelot Organisers of the UK National Lottery. Possibly Nigel's most contemporary reference.
Murder Mystery Weekend A chance for people to stay at a hotel for a weekend and pretend they're part of an Agatha Christie thriller.
Bouncy Castle Inflatable mini castles that appear at fairs, etc. that parents can shove their kids on to shut them up for a minute or so. Pretty sure the average goth would puncture the thing in five seconds with his/her pointy boots.
Barn Dance Evening's entertainment where people can dance with as many sweaty-handed people as possible, shouting "yee-haw" and getting all the moves completely wrong.
Hot pot Famous stew-like dish of Lancashire, immortalised by Betty Turpin in Coronation Street.
Title comes from the radio programme ITMA (It's That Man Again), which ran through the war from 1939 to 1949, featuring the wonders of Stinker Murdoch and others. The track features Nigel reading the jargon from the job pages from the local paper - reminds me of Mark E. Smith's intonations before "Lost In Music" on the Fall's "Why Are People Grudgeful?" single.
Any explanation would defeat the object of the song, but any employer still wanting WordPerfect 5.1 operators may need to think again.
Title comes from that favourite school hymn, "He Who Would Valiant Be", which also cropped up at the start of The Trumpton Riots. Guest appearance from Martyn Jones on organ.
Stag weekend Obligatory "last weekend with the lads" for a potential bridegroom. The idea is to get pissed and to leave the groom in a potentially embarrassing situation.
Pub grub Cheap and cheerful public house cuisine.
Pit bull Vicious dog - extension of one's masculinity.
Chelsea, Chantelle, Jordan From Carl the drummer says that this bit's all about giving your kid unacceptable names. Wonder what Peelie thinks of this?
Lady in Red Possibly the most irritating song ever written. A number one hit for Chris de Burgh for too long and far too recently (i.e. within living memory).
[Roy] Chubby Brown Comedian famous for his crudeness.
It was what Derek Bentley said to his dad whilst in Wandsworth Prison in 1952, whilst awaiting trial for the murder of PC Sidney Miles & Attemped Burglary, in anticipation of being let out of prison. It wasn't until 28th January 1953 with 10 seconds left to go of his life that he realised he wasn't going to be riding his or any other bike again...(MB)
Anyway, as the sleeve says, a traditional song the original was "See That My Grave Is Kept Clean". Blind Lemon Jefferson recorded the first version (ta Peelie!). A version also appears on Bob Dylan's eponymous debut LP. Hearing the original certainly makes the HMHB version a whole lot funnier. To help you on the way, the original verses went something like this (choose yer own order)
There's one kind favour I'll ask of you x 3
See that my grave is kept clean
It's a long lane, ain't got no end x 3
It's so bad it is a miserable shame
There's two white horses following me x 3
Waiting on my buryin' ground
Did you ever hear that coughing sound? x 3
Then you know the poor boy's in the ground
Dig my grave with a silver spade x 3
You can place four diamonds on my grave
Did you ever hear them church bells tone/sound? x 3
Then you know the poor boy's dead and gone
My heart's stopped beating and my hand's turned cold x3
Now I believe what the bible told
cf Football's coming home - the refrain from "Three Lions" by Baddiel/Skinner/Lightning Seeds - England's Euro96 anthem.
Set to the tune of "He's Got The Whole World In His Hands" - a song made especially to sing at school assemblies and happy clappy churches. Laurie London somehow managed to get it into the charts in 1957. Bastard.
Paintball Craze whereby adults try and recreate their childhood by dressing up in army gear, running round woodlands and splattering each other with paint shot from guns. Also derided in Fear my Wraith.
Ten-pin bowling Sport where you stick your thumb and two fingers in an unnecessarily heavy ball with the aim of releasing it and knocking over 10 pieces of wood. Ten-pin bowling centres are often to be found in large out-of-town complexes, alongside multiplex cinemas, deep pan pizza places and drive thru' burger houses. Best avoided like the plague.
B&Q DIY warehouses often found in out-of-town shopping complexes, next door to the ten-pin bowling place.
The Joy of Sex 'Educational' book and video by Dr Alex Comfort designed for couples to improve their sex life. Apparently.
German Shepherd Posh alsatian type of doggy.
The Crystal Maze UK TV Channel 4 adventure/puzzle game show, initially hosted by Richard O'Brien, latterly by Edward Tudorpole (Tenpole Tudor) of "Who Killed Bambi?" and "Swords Of A Thousand Men" fame.
Florida Popular destination for European holidaymakers to get mugged/murdered in in the early 1990s.
Annie Lennox Singer, formerly with The Tourists and The Eurythmics. Ex of Dave Stewart.
If I were a linesman... cf "If I were a rich man" by Topol from "Fiddler On The Roof".
If I Knew You Were Coming I'd Have Baked A Cake was written by popular novelty songwriter Bob Merrill. He also penned How Much Is That Doggy In The Window and the lyrics to Funny Girl (and therefore the truly awful Barbra Streisand hit People) among others. Committed suicide to escape chronic illness in 1998 at the age of 74. Full obituary here.
Title appropriated from the Michael Caine film Get Carter, which also 'stars' Bryan Mosley, otherwise known as Alf Roberts in Coronation Street. May also have been from the line "Get me Rex Kramer!", Lloyd Bridges legendary line in Airplane! whilst striking a pose identical to a photograph of himself on the wall behind him.
Kramer Wayne Kramer was the guitar player with the ...
... MC5 Influential bunch from the late 60's.
Falcon in Camden Pub where the whole of Brit-pop congregate. I think Lush have got personal barstools there.
Aleister Crowley Satanic-type author, immortalised by Ozzy Osbourne in the song "Mr Crowley".
Glens The bits at the foot of Scottish mountains.
[Alan] McGee Boss of Creation records.
Liquid Greek I believe they exist, and have done a Peel session. Not very old, I'll wager.
"This Land is Your Land" is of course a Woody Guthrie song.
Kick Out The Jams LP by MC5.
Brian May Guitarist of Queen and long-time partner of Angie off Eastenders. Well known for having an appallingly large ringlet-type hairstyle.
The Dee River that separates the Wirral from Wales.
Armoury Show Band that Richard Jobson formed after him and Stuart Adamson couldn't believe their luck that two such people could form such an (initially) excellent band as The Skids. John McGeoch (Magazine, Banshees) also figured.
Snood A Scottish net-type hat.
Bude On the north Cornwall coast. There's a beach there.
Crossroads Long-lamented Brummie motel immortalised in the ITV soap opera, previously referred to in Carry On Cremating. The "Crossroads" theme is that 9 note solo.
...bypass... A popular thing with road planners in Britain, sticking bypasses through forests. Especially in Newbury.