Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Player's anthem

So England are through to the World Cup, and the biannual beanfeast begins as the papers name every male guitar band they can think of as being in the running to record England's official song. Football and music. There's two uncomfortable bedfellows, whether through personnel - we'll get back to that - or audio. Or, for all in one, Chris Evans' Rock'n'Roll Football during his Virgin Radio days. Ever hear that? There actually is such a thing as too little excitement.

See, since the turn of the decade there's been plenty of talk, and plenty of jostling for position, about football songs but little reward. For Euro 2000 the FA, having seen Vindaloo wreck their best laid plans, picked up on the Groucho allstars for... go on, I'll have to hurry you... no? It was a cover of Jerusalem featuring four male voice choirs and it reached number 10, with only the England Supporters' Band joining them in the top 40. Two years later it was Ant & Dec's We're On The Ball, only notable as a) it was adapted from a 1970 record Chris Evans had been plugging four years earlier - ah, the zeitgeist, it moves so fast and so far - b) one of the promo items was a T-shirt sloganed "TORD GRIP SAYS RELAX", and c) it now transpires Ant & Dec thought as much of it as the rest of us. These, readers, were the days of Bell & Spurling.

2002, incidentally, was also the year World In Motion got re-released, surfing that tidal wave of nationalistic emotion and Italian memories to, erm, number 43. In a week when Spunge entered the top 40 (as did a debuting Libertines, actually). It was also the first year when Peter Hook would claim they were just about to re-record it, as he already has this year despite the band being inactive.

2004 was soundtracked by a great pub singalong anthem. Of 1990. A remixed version of the Farm's All Together Now, in fact, which fell victim to the Eamon/Frankee wars and the inexorable force of Peter Andre's Insania in getting no further than number 5. This was the golden age of the cash-in. Three places above the Farm was Come On England by 4-4-2, a cover of Come On Eileen with some TalkSport DJs on alleged backing vocals. Four below was Born in England by Twisted X, XFM's official song featuring the Libertines, Delays, Supergrass, Bernard Butler and that well known Englishman James Nesbitt. Think things can't get more desperate? In 2006 speculation was as rife as speculation ever can be but Embrace got the FA's nod with World At Your Feet, such an unlikely choice that you could, for perhaps the only time ever, sympathise with the Daily Mail and their winner of a headline 'Band chosen for England's World Cup song'. Their career's never recovered, but then neither did the image of the unofficial song - thousands, it seems, were released but the only ones to make a chart dent were Tony Christie's (Is This The Way To) The World Cup, the in no way cliched Who Do You Think You Are Kidding Jurgen Klinsmann? by Tonedef Allstars (featuring, god spare them, Geoff Hurst and Martin Peters along with Frank Bruno), Talksport Allstars' We're England (Tom Hark), Sham 69's Hurry Up England and - our heart turns to pumice just considering these words, original tune for once or no - Stan's World Cup Song by Stan Boardman. This is why we can't believe the Cribs. You can't ignore the ignorant, because without guidance they'll buy World Cup singles by Stan Boardman.

Do you think the players properly appreciate this effort? There's a long standing truism about footballers' musical tastes, which was only embossed by the Steven Gerrard assault case where it turned out the row was facilitated by the DJ's refusal to put on Phil Collins. All footballers, the motto goes, are into Luther Vandross, Simply Red and Phil Collins, the younger ones split by racial profile into Oasis/Coldplay and Ja Rule/Akon. Naturally they are. Footballers are of the undereducated working class, blessed with a drive and self-belief that doesn't match the anti-mainstream alienation inherent in the music us priggish snobs like.

But not all of them. Inspired by Simon Raymonde's interview guest at In The City in Manchester yesterday, we threw together, with a little Twitter help, a feasible, if overly defensive, XI of players who don't mind a musical sortie into darker waters. John Barnes will not be acknowledged.

Marcus Hahnemann
Metalhead. Loves Mastodon and Disturbed, but mostly Tool. Good friends with bassist Justin Chancellor, he invited the band to the Reading v West Ham game in September 2007. One can only imagine Maynard James Keenan in the pie queue. Also, collects handguns.

Slaven Bilic
Plays rhythm guitar in anthemic rockers Rawbau, with whom he wrote and recorded Croatia's Euro 2008 anthem Vatreno Ludilo.

Alexei Lalas
Played with The Gypsies, who made two albums and opened for Hootie and the Blowfish in Europe. Went on to make a creditable power-pop solo record with the inevitable title Ginger. Beard lol.

Leighton Baines
Acknowledged Hot Club de Paris fan. Alright, maybe we're stretching it a little.

Graeme Le Saux
Reads the Guardian, we hear. Asked for tapes of the Evening Session to be sent out while at the 1998 World Cup.

Stuart Pearce
Everyone knows he's a Sex Pistols fan. Fewer know that he's among the pogoing crowd pictured on the inner sleeve of the Lurkers' 1978 live album Fulham Fallout, and he wrote the foreword for a biography of the band. Was spotted at a Stiff Little Fingers gig in April.

Gaizka Mendieta
According to Kingsley out of the Chapman Family his favourite song is Rock And Roll by the Velvet Underground. Some light Googling also brings up penchants for Mercury Rev, Wilco, Yo La Tengo and Pavement. He'll do.

Frank Rijkaard
Lists his musical heroes as Pixies and the Smiths. Favourite Smiths song: Half A Person.

Mehmet Scholl
Has put his name to two compilations of alt-rock. Never mind that, though, for his final game, a Bayern Munich v Barcelona friendly in August 2007, he flew the Hidden Cameras over to perform pitchside during the warm-up. Joel Gibb describes his band's sound as "gay folk church music". You wonder whether that would pass without comment in Britain.

Pat Nevin

Our captain. Our don. The aforementioned chat partner of good friend Raymonde. Chelsea team mates used to dig through his kit bag weekly and rip up his newly purchased copy of the NME. He eventually got round the problem by buying two. Has DJ'd for a good 25 years, including a night at indiepop hangout How Does It Feel To Be Loved? Often namechecks Camera Obscura. And he was trusted enough to be made PFA chairman for four years.

Paul McGregor
A slightly weak link right up front in our team, were it real. (And we were worrying about the 5-4-1 formation earlier too. Because we're managing them against Rooney's Stereophonics Select next week, you know.) McGregor was a promising youngster at Nottingham Forest before fitful spells at Plymouth and Northampton and an early retirement in 2003. Almost as famous was his spell as The Britpop Footballer, fronting a little heard but much discussed band called Merc. And that was that... except about eighteen months ago he was outed as the frontman with Spacemen 3/Suicide-ish confrontational types Ulterior. Supposedly once talked up Godspeed You! Black Emperor in the Plymouth programme.

Manager: John Gregory
Badger haired ex-Villa boss. Obligatory at one point to mention in interviews his adoration for Bruce Springsteen. Once appeared on Ian Wright's chat show performing a self-written song with own acoustic accompaniment.

And to round this all off, with 'credit' to Nick Dunkeyson for passing it on, here's a tribute to Roque Santa Cruz during his spell at Bayern Munich. The man looks mildly baffled, as well he might.

1 comment:

darvé said...

This is about the time i get to roll out my 'i went out with John Gregory's Niece' story again.. I went to his daughters christening sometime summer '97 and ended up meeting the drummer from Thunder, he deserves his honarary place. If only for his niece being a teen-c/riot grrrl who the rest of the family (John's side) were quite scared of..