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  • Writer's pictureTony Harris


Those of you who know me know there's few things I enjoy more than a great pop trivia question and last week, with thanks to some fellow travellers, I was set a classic that I could not get and so I share it with you to wrangle over.

The connection, if you will, between the following three records:

"Virginia Plain" by Roxy Music

"Up The Junction" by Squeeze'

"Made Of Stone" by the Stone Roses.

I shall make you read through the whole entry this week and give you the answer. It's cracking.

All of this led me to research a trivia question of a similar ilk that I thought I had unearthed, myself.

The connection, once more if you would, between the following four records:

"Almost Blue" by Elvis Costello

"Houses Of The Holy" by Led Zeppelin

"World Shut Your Mouth" by Julian Cope

"PsychoCandy" by The Jesus And Mary Chain

I was quite excited with this only to do my research and find that not only could I have added several others such as "The Crossing" by Big Country and "Sheer Heart Attack" by Queen (though I make no apologies for only having the sketchiest knowledge of their catalogue) but that there was also a technical term for them.

These are referred to as orphans.

And what are orphans you ask...

They are songs that are not on the album of the same name. Basically they are NOT the title track even though they share the name with the title of another album by the same performer released previously.

Are you with me?

Let me explain a little. And in fact, I shall borrow the story of "Sheer Heart Attack" It was a song Queen began working on during the recording of the album of the same name and much as they liked the title they couldn't finish the song and so never got round to completing it in its entirety until three albums later. They finally sorted it our three albums later and featured the song on "News Of The World".

"Houses Of The Holy" was recorded by Led Zeppelin while the album of the same name was being put together in 1972 but was left off the album because it wasn't felt to fit with the rest of the material. They also had enough to fill an album apparently.

The decision to make a double album for their next release, "Physical Graffiti", did not seem to have such a wealth of ready material and they delved back into the archives to put together the 1975 album with out-takes and off-cuts right back to Led Zeppelin III. Personally, I think it's a great track with lots of great riffs and a loose funky rhythm pinning it down, that would have been most welcome on its original album. Certainly, this kind of influence was more prevalent in that album and would have been much better than "D'Yer Maker".

After leaving The Teardrop Explodes, Julian Cope withdrew to Drayton Bassett which was near his childhood home of Tamworth and was tasked with producing his first solo album. Like all fine upstanding rockstars he went to the country and did a ton of hallucinogenic drugs instead. The output was a very patchy and weakly performing album that bore all the marks of his preferred activity outside the studio; for instance, "Sunshine Playroom" the undisciplined mess of a lead single, which sounds like the inside of his addled head rather than anything that would brush the charts. I did always rather like "The Greatness And Perfection Of Love", which sounded like it could have come from his former band's second album "Wilder".

"World Shut Your Mouth" as a title was very much a reaction to his rather spiky interaction with stardom and the rather acrimonious break-up of the band. It was followed by another flop, the suitably titled "Fried" which had the truly bonkers "Sunspots" as a lead single. Trying to gain a reputation as something of a wayward recluse/genius was all well and good but it was nothing to the one he had accumulated mutated as a spaced-out figure of fun in the now rather sneering music press.

Nowadays, I would imagine a label would not have the patience for a third album after two dismal outings that were so doggedly inaccessible but even then Mercury did not . However, having tidied himself up a bit and signed a new deal with Island, Julian decided he was going to show everybody that he still had it and, with a point to prove, released his most successful solo single in 1986 - the snarling "World Shut Your Mouth" on his album "Saint Julian". It's a whip-crack of a record full of adrenaline that was a real throwback to his earlier days.

Whilst the album "World Shut Your Mouth" was really a plea for a bit of peace and quiet, the single four years later was definitely a desire to give the finger to all those who were so quick to put him down.

"The Crossing" by Big Country is an excellent track but at seven minutes long was just deemed too long for inclusion on the album of the same name, especially, as it was a debut and needed to be accessible. And to be fair, it is an album that is not light on epic panorama. It is now regularly included on the re-released deluxe edition of the album, to put matters straight.

Something similar (but not quite) is also true of "Psychocandy" by the excellent Jesus And Mary Chain who left it off their debut record of the same name. You'll now find it on the deluxe edition of their second album "Darklands". In truth, it is has the mellower feel of the second album and may have been left off to avoid confusion with their latest (non-album) single "Some Candy Talking" or to break up the mood of the album. It's a shame because it's a great track that really stands up better over time.

Some of you may already have got to "Bring It On" by the charismatic Gomez which appeared on their second album "Liquid Skin" in 1999 a year after their debut. There seems to be no reason allocated anywhere for this anomaly, I'm afraid.

Finally, the person with the best excuse for the orphaning of one of his songs from its album of the same name is Elvis Costello. He released "Almost Blue" in 1981 as a deliberate departure from his angular New Wave work as it was a beautiful record of country music cover versions, recorded in Nashville, with "A Good Year For The Roses" rightly being the most successful.

Though feted now, it was originally rather panned by the critics (not the first or last time this would happen to the polarising Mr McManus) and as if knowing it was coming, the album carried a sticker warning that the album contained country and western music and so may cause offence to the narrow minded. It would prove to be just the first (and still most enjoyable) of many experiments he would try over his career.

However, the title of the album obviously stirred something in him and he wrote a wonderful song called "Almost Blue" which featured on the following album, the tremendous "Imperial Bedroom" - perhaps his best work.

I always knew that the song was influenced by Chet Baker but I never realised that Chet Baker returned the compliment and recorded it himself - as did Costello's wife Diana Krall. I always think Elvis Costello sounds far better when he drops his machine gun spitting delivery and makes his vocal sound more fragile - there is always a slight crack in his voice, a little hoarseness, that makes him sound far more sincere. "Almost Blue" is certainly one of the best examples - he comes across as almost wistful.

So what's in a name?

Sometimes, a title is too good to leave it languishing even if it is a couple of albums late. Perhaps it just consistently fits a mood that the artist wants to make. But undoubtedly a great title can make a great difference whether it for an album or just the song itself.

Oh and by the way, to answer the initial teaser, the first three artists thought their title was so powerful that, for maximum effect, they left it to be the very last words of the lyric on their record.

People will be buying you drinks all night when you tell them that one.

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