Friday Factory Tune

Friday Factory Tune: The Band Played Waltzing Matilda

The last U.S. veteran of World War I, Frank Buckles, died in February at the age of 110.

The great Irish folk-punk band, The Pogues, played two sold out shows at the 9:30 Club in Washington this week in what is probably their last U.S. tour.

Next Thursday is St. Patrick’s Day.

And there’s a new, much-praised book out by Peter Hart, the military historian, “Gallipoli,” on the 1915 battle by the Allied forces against the Turks.

So this week we bring The Pogues singing, “The Band Played Waltzing Matilda,” the mournful song about a wounded Australian veteran of Gallipoli.

This is a performance from the Pogues in the 1980s before lead singer Shane McGowan destroyed himself with booze. He still manages to croak out the songs these days with prompting by his band mates, but it’s not all that interesting and certainly not romantic. The Baltimore Sun’s insightful review applies equally to the shows at the 9:30 Club. Here’s a clip from Tuesday, “The Band Played Waltzing Matilda.”

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Friday Factory Tune: State of the Nation

There was a band called Industry? Well, we missed them back in the day, but that’s not that big of a surprise since they were at best a two-hit wonder of the synthpop subgenre, 1980s. The band was founded with the name Industrial Complex, and that’s a closer connection to manufacturing than usual for a Friday Factory Tune video.

Here they are playing their hit, “State of the Nation,” a jaunty anti-war number filmed on board some sort of military  vessel. Featured are a marching band and cheerleaders, because nothing says principled passivism like cheerleaders.

Speaking of the Navy, Mark Helprin had an excellent op-ed earlier this week in The Wall Street Journal,The Decline of U.S. Naval Power.”

Speaking of marching bands in music videos, here’s a fun OK Go video, “This Too Shall Pass,” and a classic of the genre, Fleetwood Mac performing “Tusk” with the USC Marching Band. We also like this audio of the UC Berkeley Marching Band playing “Pink Triangle” by Weezer.

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Friday Factory Tune: Wanted Man

This one goes out to all those state legislators who flee their responsibilities…

And in keeping with Shopfloor’s preference for aging new wave artists, here’s Nick Cave doing the same song in his pre-superannuated days with the Bad Seeds.

In other rock news related to collective bargaining for public employees, we read that the Pogues/Green Day tribute band, the Dropkick Murphys, have recorded a song in solidarity with union workers in Wisconsin. It’s a very civil shoutalong called “Take ‘Em Down.” Who’s the ‘em? Must be the taxpayers.

The Murphs should have just brushed off their old song, “Walk Away.” The lyrics already work:

Somewhere it all went wrong
And your plan just fell apart
And you ain’t got the heart
to finish what you started
You walked out that door
To find out where you belong
To fulfill your own selfish dreams

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Friday Factory Tune: I Lost at Jeopardy!

For obvious reasons

One of Weird Al’s lesser works. Satirizing the Greg Kihn Band? (And is that Dr. Demento at the 3:10 mark? Reed College grad, you know.)

Congratulations to the people at IBM. The development of Watson and its “real language” abilities is a remarkable accomplishment, an advance in computer science that could pay off in many real-world applications, including manufacturing.

Suppose Watson already knows how to sing “Daisy Bell.” IBM cracked that nut 50 years ago.

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Friday Factory Tune: You’ll Never Pay for the Farm

At the risk of supplying too many superannuated early ’80s punk stars here at Friday Factory Tunes, we offer Gang of Four and “You’ll Never Pay for the Farm” off the latest release, “Content.” It’s a subtle yet sophisticated analysis of the failed model of Government Sponsored Enterprises to promote home ownership in the United States.


The band played Washington’s 9:30 Club on Wednesday and were exceptional. Their analysis of North Sea oil development and territorial claims in “Ether” was especially compelling: “There may be oil, under Rockall.”

Gang of Four invented (with PIL’s assistance) the aggressive punk/funk sound that inspired the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Rage Against the Machine and similar ilk. As for the politics, expect a further recrudescence of early ’80s British lefty bands with the release of the new Margaret Thatcher biopic starring Meryl Streep. Bet they use UB-40 in the soundtrack and Tom Robinson, too.

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Friday Factory Tune: Müngersdorfer Stadion

With America’s attention focused on the Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, we choose to pay tribute to another sporting structure, Müngersdorfer Stadion.

These days it’s known as the RheinEnergieStadion Köln in Cologne, Germany. Referred to affectionately as the Jewelry Box, it was opened in 2004 and is home to the soccer team, 1. FC Köln. The naming rights belong to RheinEnergie, the electric and water utility.

And that’s Max Zeltinger, who occupied the campier side of early ’80s German punk. This was kind of a hit at the time, a rip-off (in a good way) of the Ramones “Rockaway Beach.” Singing in the local dialect, Zeltinger expresses a desire to sneak a ride on the subway to go swimming at the stadium.

Why this song? Well, we were thinking about Reagan at 100, which led us to the Ramones and the disrespectful “Bonzo Goes to Bitburg” — but remember, Johnny voted for Reagan – and wound up somehow with Max. Who did not vote for Reagan.

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Friday Factory Tune: Mathilde

In salute to new Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who is driving a strong agenda for jobs, manufacturing and economic growth, we offer this video from another great Scott Walker from the Midwest. It’s the pop Scott’s performance from the “Dusty Springfield Show,” Sept. 19, 1967.

The video is Walker doing one of the Jaques Brel numbers he liked to cover, “Mathilde.” His version of another Brel tune, “Jackie,” is excellent.

As Scott Engel, the performing Scott was an Ohio-born teen star who emerged as a Walker in Los Angeles and then England as part of the hugely successful Walker Brothers (“The Sun Ain’t Going to Shine Anymore.”

Since then, he’s become idiosyncratically reclusive, or reclusively idiosyncratic, with a fair documentary done about his life, “30 Century Man.” The hipster like him, probably more than they like Gov. Walker.

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Friday Factory Tune: California Zephyr

So glad that singer/songwriters continue to write train songs. For a while you had to worry whether “City of New Orleans” would be the last.

This one is former Husker Du drummer Grant Hart performing “California Zephyr,” which namechecks many of the famous train lines. The Empire Builder!

Hart stopped off in Washington, D.C., last week for a show in the downstairs bar at the Black Cat club, with maybe 50 people in the audience. Bob Mould has had the more commercially successful post-Husker Du career, but Hart remains an appealing, quirky performer who wrote some of the best rock songs of the ’80s.

The Washington Post’s review nicely captured the evening in its review, “Grant Hart at Black Cat: Softer by Husker Du standards, but attitude still punk.” Along with the music, the audience learned that Hart was Harold Stassen’s paperboy and that he went to school with Tim Pawlenty. Boy, he does not like Tim Pawlenty.

Interestingly, there seems to be an outbreak of “California Zephyrs.” Here’s Jay Farrar and Ben Gibbard performing a different tune with the same title.

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Friday Factory Tune: Pale Blue Ties

From The Washington Post, “1 thing Democrats and Republicans agree on: Pale blue ties“:”These days, the new power tie, the ne plus ultra of Washington accessorizing is the same for everyone: pale blue.”

Thirty-five years ago Patti Smith was already leading the nation — and Sweden — into this fashion trend with her performance of “Pale Blue Ties,” the Lou Reed-era Velvet Underground song.

The song has long been a favorite for the New Wave and alt-rock crowd, e.g. R.E.M.

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Friday Factory Tune: Derezzed

Despite its high-techedness, “Tron Legacy” has sputtered at the box office. Alas. Think of all the next-generation whiz kids it could have inspired.

At least they’ll have the Daft Punk soundtrack and lead tune, “Derezzed,” to  bop too, hyperkinetically, even if Jim and Greg from Sound Opinions are unhappy with its lack of imagination.

Journey performed a synth-heavy song for the original “Tron.” Gah. Wasn’t Ultravox available?

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