Uke Tunes

Uke-ifying my favourite songs


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Get It Right Next Time – Gerry Rafferty

I’ve already posted one Gerry Rafferty song (Baker Street) on here, and if the web-site stats are anything to go by it’s the most popular song on the site. So in a totally cynical attempt to drive traffic to these pages, here’s another!

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“Get It Right Next Time” was the last time Rafferty bothered the UK Top 40 singles, although it only peaked at a relatively lowly number 30 in the late summer of 1979. In fact Rafferty was never really a mainstay of the singles chart, with only Baker Street and Night Owl ever being significant hits. As befits his time and background, he was more of an album artist, a “serious” musician coming from a folk background via. Steelers Wheel, best known for Stuck In The Middle With You, a song that seems to have gained some significant favour in ukulele circles, in part I suspect a reflection of the vintage of those playing the uke at the moment! After Get It Right… and it’s parent album Night Owl, Rafferty’s commercial fortunes declined, in part as a result of his reluctance to perform live. But that purple patch in the late 1970s left us with a number of bona fide classics as his legacy. And Get It Right Next Time, with it’s eternal pick-yourself-up-and-start-again message certainly ranks in that number.

So a song for the ukulele? Well yes, and this time round I’ve got some solid-ish evidence that it works. We’ve been playing this with my band The Flukes for a little while now, and after a fair bit of practice (more of which later!) it seems to work quite well. If definitely benefits from the driving bass (thank you, Will!) and Doug’s harmonica really add something, but it still works with just the single uke if you want. If you want to hear what it sounds like, here’s us performing at a recent Southampton Ukulele Jam Christmas Cabaret.

There’s nothing too tricky chord wise here – even the Bb/G, A/G, Ab/G, G sequence is a very straightforward rundown the fretboard. The trickier bit was timing, and particularly the middle instrumental break. The best way to get this is to listen to the original (and maybe even to The Flukes version!) and get the feel for it – it is very much about feel on this, I find, and the key to that is playing some of those chords just before the beat. In the songsheet I’ve added a third page which tries to annotate how this works for that instrumental section. It may help, it may not, but it may be worth a look if you’re struggling with that bit.

Enjoy!

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Baker Street – Gerry Rafferty

bakerstreet

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Ah. Back to the 70’s we go with this one. Probably most famous for it’s wonderful saxophone riff, this was probably one of those songs / artists that punk was meant to kill off. But a year after the Sex Pistol’s rose to public prominence, here is a classic piece of 70’s pop/rock that has weathered the years and established itself as a bona fide classic.

Gerry Rafferty was originally a member of folk/rock/pop group The Humblebums, which included comedian Billy Connolly in its ranks. In the early 1970s he was part of Stealers Wheel, most famous for their hit “Stuck In The Middle With You“. But by the mid 70s that had all folded, and he was out there as a solo artist. Baker Street was the first single from his second solo album, “City to City”, and was the song that got the solo Gerry into the public consciousness.

With a gentle opening, the song explodes into that classic saxophone refrain (by Raphael Ravenscroft), and takes a full minute before getting to the opening verse. For all the attention that the instrumentation gets in this song (and there is a great guitar solo in there as well towards the end), the song itself – verses and choruses – is, to my mind, the equal of the music, albeit somewhat more understated.

The song was voted best British single of 1978 in the forerunner to the British Rock and Pop Awards (although this is the only – somewhat bizarre – reference I can find to that). I can’t say I’ve been a huge Rafferty fan, although great songs like “Get It Right Next Time” and “Night Owl” remind me that I really should check out some more of his music, and are definitely sounds that transport me back to a certain time and place (late 70s, middle years of secondary school, and all that goes with that!).

Now with all that sax and lead guitar solos, I can understand why you might be raising your eyebrows at a ukulele version of this song. Hopefully this will show you that the songs works just great on the humble old uke. I think this version is stunning!

And so here is the song sheet. It follows the song arrangement fairly closely, and hence has lots of space for instrumental improvisation, if required. I guess you could try and replicate the saxophone parts on the kazoo, but I wouldn’t recommend it. I’ve also included some tab for the intro and instrumental sections, which I stumbled across on Ukulele Underground. Worth giving a try, I think, if you want a bit of a challenge.

Enjoy!!

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