Uke Tunes

Uke-ifying my favourite songs


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World Shut Your Mouth – Julian Cope

Another gig inspired song, although this one didn’t actually get played on the night.

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I’ve been a long-time fan of Julian Cope, stretching right back to when The Teardrop Explodes Reward blasted out of the Top of the Pops studio (no, I wasn’t cool enough to be a pre-fame fan). The Teardrops imploded an album later in a haze of drug-fuelled paranoia, an event that set in train a wild and varied career that I’ve written about a number of times on this blog.

But somewhere in the late 1980s, Julian Cope the leather-clad rock star emerged blinking into the light, and for a fleeting moment it looked like mainstream success was beckoning, something that the resolutely lof-fi, whimiscal and surreal nature of the previous two albums had made look all but impossible. But this was Julian Cope we are talking about here, and those ambitions were resolutely dashed as Cope’s future headed off into even more arcane and defiantly un-commercial avenues, a direction from which he has never returned. But for those who like there pop stars unpredictable but errudite, wayward but smart, Julian has carved out a niche for himself that would have made his very own cult heroes proud.

World Shut Your Mouth comes not from the album of the same name (how boring and predictable would that be!) but from the messiah-like St Julian, the point at which his commercial star briefly shined. It’s one of those songs whose presence seems to have grown since its day (it only peaked at 19 in the UK singles chart), and is – if anything – the song that the vaguely interested general public know Mr Cope by.

World Shut Your Mouth is a top-class shouty anthem. It’s not subtle, and so is great for thrashing and singing at the top of your lungs. Its simple and straightforward (I’ve transposed it down from the original B to A to make it easier to play), and clearly needs to be played loud. Enjoy!


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Rent – Pet Shop Boys

More synthpop. More 80s. I know, i know, this phase will pass. But not just yet!

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“Rent” is a single culled from the Pet Shop Boys second album, Actually, a less successful (but still top 10) follow-up to the massive hits It’s A Sin, and the Dusty Springfield duet, What Have I Done To Deserve This?

Rent is a mid-tempo, melancholic song that focuses on a financially one-sided relationship, where a kept man is in hock to another. Commonly perceived as depicting the lot of a rent boy, Neil Tennant has been quoted as saying that it was originally conceived as being about a kept woman.

It’s a simple and straightforward song, spoken word for the first half of the first verse, and generally veering towards the understated. Enjoy!

 


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When Will You (Make My Telephone Ring) – Deacon Blue

Sorry, it’s been a bit quiet here lately, hasn’t it?! No excuses really, just life getting in the way. But here’s a couple of songs to make up for it.

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First up, a band that definitely have fallen on the wrong side of the “cool” divide, but who – for me – have consistently produced quality songs. Deacon Blue emerged in the mid-80s, taking their name from a Steely Dan song, adopting a sound that was a kind of pop / rock / soul hybrid that saw them bracketed with similar bands of the era such as Prefab Sprout and The Christians. Their debut album, Raintown, from which this song was taken, was steeped in the city of its birth (Glasgow), reflected in the albums title, its cover art, and many of the themes of the songs.

The song itself was a relatively minor hit, as were all the singles taken from the album – it wasn’t until the follow up, When The World Knows Your Name, that the band really broke through. Elements of 80s production creep through into the song (those snares!) but this is – in my books – a powerful and emotional example of Deacon Blue at their best.

So nothing particularly tricky here in the songsheet. It’s in the same key as the original, so you can play along(!). Note the C and D chords are best played as barre chords, both because they sounds better (to my ears), but also because it makes that nice little run in the chorus (C / Cm / Eb / D) nice and easy. Enjoy!


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Never Can Say Goodbye – The Communards / Gloria Gaynor

communardsSorry, it’s been a while hasn’t it? Things going on I’m afraid (nothing significant, just general life stuff) which meant I haven’t got round to putting much up on here. But I do have a batch of stuff that I will post over the next few weeks, and here is the first.

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Depending on your generation, this is either a disco classic from the 1970s (Gloria Gaynor) or a classic hi-nrg cover from the 1980s (The Communards). Or possibly even a Jacksons classic from the early 1970s (I didn’t know anything about that one until I started looking into this). For me it’s the 1980s version that is the most evocative, although I do like the Gloria Gaynor one for it’s subtlety (The Communards version is *not* a subtle record!).

The Communards had already had a huge hit with a cover of a disco classic (Don’t Leave Me This Way) in 1986, and followed it the following year with this. Some might call it a cynical attempt to re-capture the success of the following year, and there is probably some justification for that (subsequent original songs had not really set the charts alight). But I don’t think you can fail to respond to the enthusiasm and clear love of the song that Jimmy Somerville and Richard Coles (now the Rev. Richard Coles) brought to this recording. I particularly love the totally camp enthusiasm that Cole shows in the video (see 1:12) and Sommerville is obviously immensely enjoying himself (see 3:25).

And so to the songsheet. There’s a few unusual chords in there (although you could probably skip the Db if you struggle with it) but they do add something to the song. The rhythm is relatively straightforward and consistent throughout, although I have add a couple of counts where the timing might get a little tricky. Sing and play with enthusiasm an you can’t go far wrong.

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Just Like Heaven – The Cure

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I’m conscious that there’s been a lot of 80s stuff on here lately. And here comes another one. I guess it’s no surprise given it’s the era when I was growing up, and that is an age at which music seems to have such a significant impact. The music you love at at that time lives with you forever, and it’s often hard to be objective about it. It becomes part of who you are, somehow written through you and in you.

Just Like Heaven is an 80s song, from a band who were undoubtedly most prolific and creative during that period. My first awareness of The Cure was when their song Charlotte Sometimes (still a favourite) appeared on the early 80’s compilation album Modern Dance. I can’t say it turned me into a huge fan, but there was a run of singles through the 80s that was very impressive – songs like The Lovecats, Inbetween Days and Close To Me were all great singles, and there was a real sense of creativity and variety that came through what The Cure did, despite their being tarred with the “Goth” badge. Recently I’ve been digging back into some of the music of the early -80s that I missed, some of the post-punk music of the time, and along with bands like Magazine, Josef K and the B-52s, I’ve discovered that I *did* miss something with The Cure – albums like Seventeen Seconds, Faith and Disintegration are records I really love.

Just Like Heaven is from the band’s 1987 album Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me, which is probably at the poppier and more accessible end of the spectrum of the bands music (those terms are relative – this isn’t Bros or One Direction!). Apparently it is considered by the band’s singer and main songwriter Robert Smith to be one of the bands strongest songs. I don’t think anybody would much argue with that. It’s a simple and effective pop song, albeit one with a slightly opaque lyric which, according to Smith, is about “hyperventilating—kissing and fainting to the floor”.

The Cure songs seem to translate well to the ukulele. The ukulele group of which I am a part, Southampton Ukulele Jam, regularly perform a version of Inbetween Days (listen here), and sometimes have a bash at Friday I’m In Love. Just Like Heaven scores quite a few hits on YouTube for ukulele covers, of which I think this has to be the best. Although I think this one captures something of Robert Smith’s performance.

The song sheet is a relatively straightforward one. I’ve added in a transcription of the two solo sequences in the song as well, the first over the intro and the first instrumental break, the second combining guitar and keyboard solos over the second instrumental breaks. Enjoy!

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