Dec 07

KEN BOOTHE – “Everything I Own”

FT + Popular63 comments • 5,621 views

#359, 26th October 1974

“Give up my life, my heart my home” – Boothe sings this high-stakes plea like a man who’s already lost the bet: he wants to continue abasing himself, piling more and more onto his end of the scales, potlatch-style, but his lover has simply got up and walked away. “Everything I Own” is a thoroughly dejected record, but also a pathetically lovely one, with the rising “is there someone you know” plea at its hopeless centre. Boothe’s vocals are the deal maker or breaker here. His phrasing is impeccably precise – he knows this is the last time she’ll pay attention and he’s weighing, choosing, and forcing out every word even though they’re just carefully-placed straws to cling to. Even his consonants tremble! To be honest his nerdy neediness inspires more pity than sympathy (in other words, you can intuit why he’s got the push) but as an old school indie boy I can get down with pity too. 



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  1. 31
    Marcello Carlin on 11 Dec 2007 #

    I don’t believe those well known VOCAL number ones do.

  2. 32
    Mark G on 11 Dec 2007 #

    The Legend Of Xanadu

    Unless you translate it into Spanish.

  3. 33
    Marcello Carlin on 11 Dec 2007 #

    I gave that one a bit of a licence because it does say “Xanadu” quite a lot of times but then I suppose I’d have to do the same with Our Ken on an “I Own” basis (see also “The Ballad Of Bonnie And Clyde”).

  4. 34
    Billy Smart on 11 Dec 2007 #

    “Double Barrel”?

  5. 35
    Marcello Carlin on 11 Dec 2007 #

    Aye, that one as well…

    (memo to self: check your fecking facts next time…)

  6. 36
    mike on 11 Dec 2007 #

    Annie’s Song?
    Maggie May (strictly speaking)?

  7. 37
    Marcello Carlin on 12 Dec 2007 #

    A London hospital outpatient clinic, circa 2017:
    “Now, Mr Carlin, do you know the name of the Prime Minister?”

  8. 38
    Waldo on 12 Dec 2007 #

    Don’t torment yourself, Marcello. I spend a good deal of time in hospital waiting rooms, the result of my libatious tumblings, and not only have I forgotten the name of the prime minister by then but my own name is oftentimes similarly out of my reach. Fortunately they know me down at Eastbourne DGH.

  9. 39
    rosie on 16 Dec 2007 #

    Waldo, I just spent two days in an NHS hospital without spending any time whatsoever in a waiting room. Mind you, it wasn’t because I fell over drunk!

    Nasal surgery is never pleasant but notwithstanding that it was an agreeable experience.

    When in A&E I plead asthma and that generally ensures prompt attention.

  10. 40
    Waldo on 16 Dec 2007 #

    Rosie – When in A&E I plead insanity and that also generally ensures prompt attention…

  11. 41
    Waldo on 16 Dec 2007 #

    By the way, Rosie, by some odd coincidence I like yourself placed “Ulysses” on my “to read” pile a few months ago (I should say my “to re-read” pile, since I first tackled it as a teenager and it nearly drove me nuts). For this reason, I have resisted digesting your own wonderful running comments recorded in another place until I begin my own return to Bloomsday, which is not far off now.

    Yes I’m going to read it again yes and yes I’ll sit awake in bed and read it yes and yes I said yes I will Yes.

  12. 42
    rosie on 16 Dec 2007 #

    Ulysses, I find, works best while listening to the Pogues.

  13. 43
    Waldo on 17 Dec 2007 #

    Not The Dubliners?

  14. 44
    Marcello Carlin on 17 Dec 2007 #

    “Seven Drunken Nights,” the most unlikely of pirate radio hits, largely because the guy who ran the Major Minor label also bankrolled Radio Caroline so they were obliged to play the label’s strangely diverse output, although in the wilderness of ’68 this policy nearly caused open rebellion among the remaining DJs when they were compelled to give regular spins to “Sentimental Songs” by Freddie “Parrot Face” Davies.

  15. 45
    Waldo on 17 Dec 2007 #

    “Seven Drunken Nights” is, of course, a Waldo staple and absolutely wonderful.

    “And now here’s the Seven Drunken Nights…but we can only do five of them, so here we go…” Simply marvellous.

  16. 46
    rosie on 18 Dec 2007 #

    The Dubliners quite possibly, but somehow the earthier sound of the Pogues goes with the scatalogical Joyce. Maybe the Dubliners go best with the excellent Flann O’Brien (The Third Policeman is one of the most astonishing novels I have ever read.)

    Why did I never feel it odd that Seven Drunken Nights was a hit? I enjoyed it and I think the singles charts were much more diverse in 1968.

    Swerving a little: another musical analogy that has struck me is that Flann O’Brien is Puccini to Joyce’s Wagner.

  17. 47
    Marcello Carlin on 18 Dec 2007 #

    You’d think that with downloading etc. there would still be room for diversity in today’s singles charts but inevitably the big marketing money wins, which is why Leon Jackson will be sending everybody to sleep at number one next week rather than Malcolm Middleton waking everybody up.

  18. 48
    rosie on 18 Dec 2007 #

    I’m sorry the Pogues won’t get their well-earned Christmas number one at last, but I suppose it would have been so much more meaningful at the time.

  19. 49
    Marcello Carlin on 18 Dec 2007 #

    It is, however, nice to see that Chris Rea’s “Driving Home For Christmas” finally made its Top 40 debut this week at #35.

  20. 50
    rosie on 18 Dec 2007 #

    I just heard that Radio 1 are insisting on broadcasting a bowdlerised version of FToNY, with the word ‘faggot’ dubbed out (doesn’t the word come into Good King Wenceslas as well?) I’m gobsmacked and think it’s a bit rich coming from a station that allows fat slob Moyles to use ‘gay’ as a term of abuse and get away with it.

  21. 51
    Marcello Carlin on 18 Dec 2007 #

    And has no compunction about playing homophobic rap tracks which repeatedly use that particular F word without ambiguity of intent.

  22. 52
    Waldo on 18 Dec 2007 #

    Flann O’Brien may or may not be Puccini to Joyce’s Wagner (these things come in cycles, you know) but there’s one thing which I agree with him without equivocation: “A PINT OF PLAIN IS YOUR ONLY MAN!!!” How wise…and how true!

    Without wishing to incur again the terrible wrath of Rosie and one or two others with regards FToNY, I shall never be swayed from truly detesting this with a passion. It’s so far up its own arse it’s unbelievable. I do however accept that I’m probably a lone cry in the wilderness on this point as I am yet to encounter anyone who agrees with me.

    Marcello’s point about homophobic rap guys can be easily explained. In the entirely unpleasant society we endure today, being dubbed “homophobic” or indeed “sexist” is not as serious as being labelled a “racist”. It’s as simple and uncomlicated as that.

  23. 53
    Marcello Carlin on 18 Dec 2007 #

    I’m absolutely in agreement with Waldo re. FToNY – speaking of which, shouldn’t they also censor the title? I mean, FAIRY Tale of New York? What were they thinking?

  24. 54
    intothefireuk on 20 Apr 2008 #

    Well with thoughts of Christmas & fairies far behind us I’ll try and turn attention back to dear old Ken Boothe.

    The one thing that stood out when I revisited this track some years ago was how damn slow and difficult to dance to it was (not that dancing comes anywhere near naturally to me) although that never stopped people trying when it came on at parties – especially after a few sherberts. It does have a lovely skanking reggae feel to it and Ken’s vocal is nicely overwrought (if a little too concise at times). At the time I thought it quite pleasant but probably preferred the original(the proper version as I used to say). However subsequently I have come to love this version and I would easily now give it a 7 or an 8.

  25. 55
    wichita lineman on 25 May 2008 #

    This used to scare me, mainly thanks to the eerie vagueness of the middle eight: “You may lose them one day, someone takes them away, and you don’t hear a word they say”. This is edging into Johnny Remember Me territory. In fact, it’s creepier – it sounds more like Ken’s gal has been abducted.

    It kind of makes sense when you know he’s altered David Gates’ death-related lyric, but still. Maybe Ken only did it to try and land some royalties (see no.1 from Xmas ’78 and another from early ’80).

    My nomination for Ken Boothe’s best 45, much as I love EIO, is The One I Love (Caltone, 1967): quiet pent-up verse, screaming desperation on the chorus, it borders on deep soul super-intensity.

    And another JA cover that trumps the original: The Wailers’ What’s New Pussycat.

  26. 56
    hectorthebat on 6 Jul 2014 #

    Critic watch:

    Michaelangelo Matos (USA) – Top 100 Singles of the 1970s (2001) 26
    Paul Roland (UK) – CD Guide to Pop & Rock, 100 Essential Singles (2001)
    Jamaican Poll – The Top 100 Jamaican Songs of 1957-2007 (2009) 18
    New Musical Express (UK) – Singles of the Year

  27. 57
    fat slob on 3 Jan 2016 #

    ROSIE you lose all credibility when you call someone a, “fat slob” – even if it is chris moyles

  28. 58
    thefatgit on 3 Jan 2016 #

    @57 credibility lost in the eyes of the oppressor or the oppressed? Moyles has plainly been on the side of the oppressor for ages.

  29. 59
    Mark G on 4 Jan 2016 #

    This seems to be a good place to add one of those misheard lyrics loved by so many..

    You didn’t hear The Clash on the radio much, and even when you did it wasn’t all that clear on my old mono radio. So, I used to think Joe Strummer was singing “You can’t put UK pop reggae through backing fine sound systems” like what he wanted was the real thing.. In fact, it was “Ken Booth, UK pop reggae, with backing (etc)” which wasn’t anti.. And then, eventually, I found out more about what the song was about and it makes sense now.

  30. 60
    Erithian on 4 Jan 2016 #

    And re Marcello’s comment at #49 above: eight years on, “Driving Home for Christmas” finally became a top 30 hit last month!

  31. 61
    Tommy Mack on 4 Jan 2016 #

    #59 – I always thought Strummer was singing “Ken Boothe, UK pop parade…” – as in reggae is taking the charts by storm. Which I suppose would have been quite odd coming from the anti-TOTP Clash.

  32. 62
    lonepilgrim on 31 Oct 2019 #

    I’m more familiar with the Bread original version than this – I can’t recall it getting much airplay in subsequent years and it didn’t really register at the time. It’s a very stiff performance from KB which I find hard to engage with

  33. 63
    Gareth Parker on 7 Jun 2021 #

    I think Tom’s right with the 6/10 here. Just feels a tad slow to me imho, but a good song and I like Ken’s voice.

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