I wasn’t very happy with the sub-ed. changes made to my recent RR column (https://www.theguardian.com/music/2016/sep/15/readers-recommend-playlist-the-forgotten-follow-ups) I did get a nice email from Matthew apologising for some of it, and explaining the rest. (We’ve completely hooked him now, haven’t we?)
So I figured the simplest thing to do would be to post what I wrote here. Unsurprisingly, I think it’s sharper; less flabby because it doesn’t waste time laying everything out on a plate, which Matt believes he has to do for the benefit of new or casual readers. I also particularly wanted to re-instate my third paragraph. So here it is …
READERS RECOMMEND FORGOTTEN FOLLOW-UPS
Big, brash, and upfront with it: the big hit gets everyone’s attention because it deserves it. Fair enough. There is an immediate follow-up. Some think the quality is still there; some don’t, and inevitably it seems, the figures take a dip. Then … nothing, for years, because there’s nothing worthy of attention. That’s how it goes, right?
WRONG! Artist or athlete, Billboard Chart or Medal Table, there’s at least as much happening away from the limelight as there is on our screens. I’m taking the current Rio Paralympics as my inspiration, and letting both the music and the athletes’ stories take you on a journey into the un[fairly under-]known.
Even before the Games started, controversy reigned. Russia’s Paralympians were given the blanket ban many felt the Olympians had deserved. A Belarus official clearly didn’t agree. Jah Wobble opens our playlist. And Furniture’s The Wrong Shoes put me in mind of Hannah Cockroft’s ruminations on sponsorship.
But I’m here to wave bouquets, not brickbats. In my mind, there’s no lowering of standards when we go from those big, brash Olympics to the follow-up Paralympics; it’s just different. We go, as Hue And Cry have it, from Strength To Strength. Ali Jawad fits that description, lifting more than three times his bodyweight in Rio to secure the medal that eluded him in London. Wow! Mr. Apollo indeed. As I write, Ellie Simmonds has also gone better than in 2012, by posting a new world record time defending her 200m medley title in the pool, and is giving her now customary disbelieving post-race interview. Susie Rodgers has a better OMG face though. Whilst we wait, let’s have a suitably wet-themed song: here’s Merril Bainbridge. Hopefully afterwards, when reality has sunk in, Then She Smiles.
UK athletes like Ellie (OBE), Hannah (MBE) and Dame Sarah Storey are actually pretty well-known already; the equivalent, I guess, of a follow-up single that does chart, but maybe not to the dizzy heights of the big hit. Cornershop, anyone? It is great to see home heroes like Brazilian swimmer Daniel Dias receive all sorts of Adorations. What I love just as much are the back-stories of the new names: GB cyclists Megan Giglia and Steve Bate got their Call-Up late, but rose magnificently to the occasion. Libby Clegg has won another gold, but with brother James not in Rio, hopefully the Clegg parents had an easier schedule to keep than in London. Two children competing? Reason enough to A-list Marc Cohn. Just as inspirational, but sadly still without a Paralympic medal after her 3-2 defeat in the Bronze play-off, is table tennis player Sue Gilroy. Sometimes, it’s a Heartbreak Beat. The 7-a-side football squad were prepared for their tournament at the same St. George’s complex near Burton-upon-Trent that the full England teams use, but narrow defeats to Ukraine and the hosts killed any medal hopes. Having met them all twice in the run-up to the Games, I’m particularly disappointed for them. I genuinely thought they were great. That may, on reflection, be because I understand football. There are some sports that I just don’t “get”. Wheelchair basketball, for instance. Those guys are just mental! A proper manic mass of muscle, metal and tension. Only one way I can soundtrack that. I’ve left it to the end of the playlist, so you can skip it if you want, but here’s Lou Reed with Metal Machine Music Part 1.