I was up with the larks this morning. Actually I was up so early the larks kept telling me to keep the noise down.
I always wake myself up with a cup of Earl Grey and it’s a bit like starting a dodgy outboard motor these days. The pull string needs to be yanked many times before I get properly going, or at least before I start doing anything useful.
I use this start-up time to reflect on the deeper aspects of philosophy: Plato, Descartes, Wittgenstein and of course Steve Harley.
For inexplicable reasons, Steve Harley popped into my head and I started wondering about rock ‘family trees’ and the connections therein. So I set myself a task.
I don’t really follow the charts because I’m an old codger and music ended in 1985 as far as I’m concerned, but the last I knew about the Top 40 was that Camila Cabello was at Number 1 with Señorita (although I have since found out she no longer is). So I idly wondered if Steve Harley could be connected to Camila Cabello just by using names and bands (i.e. no record labels, places or other, less direct connections … mostly).
Let’s do it, I thought, and before the cock crows. So here goes, and a long and winding road it is (as The Beatles might say).
Steve Harley was of course the front man for Cockney Rebel and Cockney Rebel’s drummer was Stuart Elliot.
Elliot was a session drummer for many famous artists and bands, including Kate Bush, Al Stewart, The Alan Parsons Project, Paul McCartney and, relevant to my current task, Roger Daltry.
Daltry worked with Rick Wakeman on the soundtrack of Ken Russell’s Lisztomania and of course Wakeman was in Yes.
The cock was beginning to stir now.
In 1980, after the success of Video Killed The Radio Star, The Buggles’ duo Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes joined the line-up of Yes and, after Yes, Horn became a founding member of the synth-pop band Art Of Noise. During this time Horn and his production team worked on Malcolm McLaren’s Duck Rock album.
Tenuous, I hear you say. Gimme a break, it’s 4AM.
McLaren was the manager of Bow Wow Wow (and who can forget C·30 C·60 C·90 Go). Bow Wow Wow had a short life initially, active only from 1981 to 1983, but they’ve reformed a few times since. During one of those reunions they had an American drummer called Adrian Young who was also the drummer for No Doubt, perhaps best-known in the UK for their Don’t Speak Number 1 single.
The cock was beginning to warm up its vocal cords, but I was in the home stretch now.
No Doubt worked with electro-dance band Major Lazer on their Push and Shove album and Major Lazer in turn worked on their first single, Lean On, with DJ Snake.
The fourth single of Mr Snake’s Encore album — The Half — featured Young Thug who, with a moniker like that, is undoubtedly a pacifist.
Finally, Mr Thug appeared on Havana, Camila Cabello’s breakthrough single.
A completely pointless exercise but one I enjoyed nevertheless.
Anyway, here are some videos from the start and end of my journey. First up it’s Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel with Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me). I like the red coat and bowler hat arrangement, which I should perhaps investigate as resident fashion leader hereabouts.
And now the vastly less good but not entirely bad Havana by Camila Cabello featuring Young Thug.