/Tuesday Ten /548 /Bad Blood

The 20th anniversary of /amodelofcontrol.com last week rather bumped this post back a week.

/Tuesday Ten /548 /Bad Blood

/Subject /Rivals, Enemies
/Playlists /Spotify / /YouTube
/Related /338/With a Little Help from My Friends /Tuesday Ten/Index
/Assistance /Suggestions/135 /Used Prior/29 /Unique Songs/112 /People Suggesting/68
/Details /Tracks this week/10 /Tracks on Spotify Playlist/10 /Duration/35:48

That said, maybe this wasn’t quite appropriate for Valentine’s Day anyway: as this song is about the opposite of lovers, but rivals or enemies instead.

As it turned out, there are an awful lot of rivals and enemies to those releasing music: friends, peers, record labels, the music press, even ex-lovers. This one was fun to compile, too, especially as a few songs I’d not heard in some time got suggested.

As always, thanks to everyone who suggested songs for inclusion.

A quick explanation for new readers (hi there!): my Tuesday Ten series has been running since March 2007, and each month features at least ten new songs you should hear – and in between those monthly posts, I feature songs on a variety of subjects, with some of the songs featured coming from suggestion threads on Facebook.

Feel free to get involved with these – the more the merrier, and the breadth of suggestions that I get continues to astound me. Otherwise, as usual, if you’ve got something you want me to hear, something I should be writing about, or even a gig I should be attending, e-mail me or drop me a line on Facebook (details below).

/Rage Against The Machine
/Know Your Enemy
/Rage Against The Machine

Rage Against The Machine were very much a band who tried to change the system from within (remember all the sneers at such a left-wing, furiously political band signing with a major label?). It wasn’t as if they didn’t have the roots and knowledge: Zack de la Rocha’s great-grandfather was a Mexican revoluionary, as well as Zack being a straight-edge hardcore punk in his younger days; guitarist Tom Morello, as well as being a graduate of Harvard in Social Studies, has a father who participated in the Mau Mau uprising, was Kenya’s first ambassador to the UN, and has an uncle who was one of the founding fathers of modern Kenya.

Of the many incenindiary anthems on that debut album, though, Know Your Enemy is one of the best. De la Rocha reminds us that you shouldn’t be looking at your co-worker, or your neighbour, or an immigrant, as your enemy, but those entrenching political and class systems. Then, as now, change is needed and splintering the left is not helping…

/Tori Amos
/The Waitress
/Under the Pink

For many of these posts, there is a specific song that triggers the initial inspiration, and this week, it was The Waitress. Long a fan-favourite – as the various, lengthy live versions online and crazy reactions to them attest (see also the astonishing, ten-minute live take on To Venus and Back) – the story goes that it was a late addition to Under the Pink after her producer suggested she needed another song. Two days later, after an altercation with a waitress in a nearby diner, the song was done.

Perhaps more than any other song here, it absolutely seethes with hatred. Tori switched the altercation to being a rivalry with a co-worker that everyone else thinks is lovely, but Tori can see the darkness and nastiness underneath, and the way she delivers the refrain – “I believe in peace, Bitch” – tells you all you need to know.

/Rebekah Delgado
/Don’t Sleep

Another bubbling with fury at another woman was Rebekah Delgado, whose drowsy, woozy song Scoundrelle gives both barrels and then some at another woman making passes at her lover. A song of jealousy and power, Delgado never sounded better than in the dripping scorn of her vocal delivery here, but interestingly never offering overt threats – instead detailing their transgressions and basically stating “stay the fuck away“. The song is so vivid in description, and powerful in sound, that I can’t help feeling that this based on real events…

/Dolly Parton

Less fury, and more resignation, comes from Dolly Parton. Her rival here, the titular Jolene, is described as possibly the most beautiful redhead you ever did see, and the interesting thing is that Parton isn’t hating on her. Instead, she talks her up, suggesting that Jolene’s beauty is such that she could have her pick of anyone, while Parton only has her man – so please, please try it on with anyone else…

/Boogie Down Productions
/The Bridge Is Over
/Criminal Minded

There could be an entire series of /Tuesday Ten posts on Hip-Hop rivalries in song, as most of them played out in raps traded back-and-forth, but sometimes with tragic consequences (as per the East Coast-West Coast rivalries of the nineties, that resulted in the death of both 2Pac and The Notorious B.I.G., as well as the deaths of others in the wider circles). But the biggest of them all – and the one with the best tracks, frankly – was The Bridge Wars of the late-80s in New York.

This was a feud between Boogie Down Productions – led by KRS-One and Scott La Rock – and Juice Crew, led by Marley Marl, ostensibly over a misunderstanding about where hip-hop originated. It was generally agreed to have originated in the Bronx, where BDP came from, and Juice Crew’s track The Bridge suggested their home area of Queensbridge (Queens) was an originating point. Whether that claim was really the case or not quickly got forgotten as BDP responded with the instant anthem South Bronx, and culminated in the smackdown of The Bridge is Over, and KRS-One in particular was undoubtedly victorious.

After Scott La Rock was killed in an unrelated incident months later, KRS-One transformed himself into a progressive, socially conscious rapper, doing more than many to reduce gang violence in NYC – and arguably became one of the best of all. Juice Crew, comparatively, faded away somewhat, member MC Shan’s most notable moment subsequently being his involvement in Snow’s Informer

Well worth watching for more context is Hip-Hop Evolution – the episode Do The Knowledge has the story.

/This Town Ain’t Big Enough For The Both of Us
/Kimono My House

The classically odd art-pop of Sparks – and their career that has continued now for well beyond fifty years – is pretty much summed up neatly in the three glorious minutes of this song. Starting with the classic Western cliche of the title (which comes originally from 1932 film The Western Code, apparently), it features gunshot samples, bizarre lyrical set-pieces, and a sense of rivalry and one-upmanship that even stretches as far as Ron Mael writing the song in a key that Russell Mael could barely sing…

/The Undertones
/My Perfect Cousin

Familial rivalry is the more overt subject of this classic song by The Undertones. Fergal Sharkey’s spends two-and-a-half minutes seething about his cousin Kevin: who has better clothes, a better education, more money and even is better at Subbuteo than he his. We’ve all been there, right? Sick of a family member that you’re always compared to by someone, as if nothing could possibly be enough…

/You and I Will Never See Things Eye to Eye
/In the Best Possible Taste

Loz Hardy had a lot of enemies, of a sort, by the time Kingmaker dissolved in 1995. He and the band had been at loggerheads with their label, Chrysalis, as they wanted (the acutally very good) Sleepwalking to be “more commercial” – I rather suspect the searing Armchair Anarchist spooked them (“Bomb the idiots, now” wasn’t exactly going to get radio play…) – and then there was the frosty relationship at best with the music press. Early on they were critical darlings, but as attention turned to Britpop, suddenly Kingmaker weren’t in fashion. Nowadays, he barely even acknowledges his old band, such was the unpleasant way things ended (and despite being the lead vocalist, declined to be involved in a reunion).

This song, from the last album, feels like an resigned acceptance that this lark just wasn’t for Hardy. Everything the counterpart to his protagonist in the song was, he wasn’t. And maybe, pop stardom wasn’t really the right route for him. A shame really, as Kingmaker really were a great band.

/That’s Where It’s At
/We Care

Whale are best known for their big alternative hit Hobo Humpin’ Slobo Babe – a catchy, sneery wall-of-sound masterpiece that sounded like little else at the time. The band were not exactly obvious alternative stars, either, coming from Norwegian children’s TV (!), but their debut album We Care turned out to be a wildly eclectic beast.

That’s Where It’s At was one of the striking tracks here, as vocalist Cia Berg calmly holds things together while musically everything seems to be falling apart around her. But it’s not as calm as it appears, as Berg lists a whole set of entertaining insults and wishes of terrible things happening to someone else, who is presumably some sort of rival. Either way, it’s hugely entertaining…

/Benny Hill
/Ernie (The Fastest Milkman In The West)
/Ernie (The Fastest Milkman In The West)

Once one of the biggest names in TV entertainment, the innuendo-laden humour of Hill somewhat had fallen from favour by the time of his death in 1992. But in 1971, he even managed the feat of the Christmas Number One, with this marvellously surreal song: involving a love-triangle between a milkman, a bread delivery man and a housewife, a Western-style duel in the street using dairy and bread products, including death by rock cake (!), and Ernie haunting the newly married couple after death…

One thought on “/Tuesday Ten /548 /Bad Blood

  1. He said, “D’you want it pasturised? Cause pasturised is best,”
    She says, “Ernie, I’ll be happy if it comes up to my chest.”

Leave a Reply