Apr 14


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#777, 29th November 1997

PDay Charity covers as multi-artist jigsaw puzzles were a whiskery idea by this point, so it’s remarkable how startling and beguiling “Perfect Day” sounds. It’s a successful reinvention of the Band Aid concept that also more or less finishes it off: the next time I write about this kind of record, it’ll have explicit nostalgic overtones.

There are several things this record gets right. Firstly, it wasn’t a record. The “Perfect Day” collage was a video first – a promotional film for the BBC justifying its license fee – and it had a huge visual impact. Massive stars, enticingly shot, and – crucially – not collaborating. The point of Band Aid and USA For Africa was that the famine crisis had been big enough to bring all of pop together, but the BBC’s aim on “Perfect Day” was to celebrate its diversity, not its unity.

This made the film superb television – gorgeous, colour-saturated portraits of the musicians, a dramatic shift in tone and look every few seconds, and almost a decade before YouTube you couldn’t quite be sure you’d really seen its many surprises. Wait a minute, that was Shane MacGowan!?

The second right choice it makes is the song. The best reading I’ve seen of “Perfect Day” is from the wonderful Bowiesongs blog: it’s sung by a man whose life is so shot that “the perfect day for him is one that the good and prosperous people of the world would forget about in a week.” Whether it’s about heroin or not, it combines a lovely piano and string setting (courtesy of Mick Ronson – another Bowiesongs tip of the hat needed) and plain, halting vocals that turns out to be ideal for this recording’s purpose. There’s room for strong, dominating readings which take their cue from the orchestration – and there’s room for weaker or more idiosyncratic vocalists to take the song flat, like Lou Reed did. And, in fact, does here.

And that’s the third right choice – the idea on “Perfect Day” seems to have been for every performer to be as much themselves as they could possibly be. So Ian Broudie sounds more scouse than ever, Bowie more Sphinx-like, Heather Small more belting, and Huey from the Fun Lovin’ Criminals (somehow) sounds more of a dick.

It feels like the first time since the original Band Aid that someone has thought about how to make one of these Frankenrecords work aesthetically – instead of trying to smooth the juxtapositions over, revel in them. You can spot several places where the gear-shifts seem joyfully deliberate – Huey into Broudie; Boyzone’s timid harmonies shifting to Lesley Garrett; Tammy Wynette feeding Shane MacGowan the track’s best gag. It’s as good as any record that lets Bono have a go twice can be.

By the time “Perfect Day” finishes, with Tom Jones and Heather Small in an absurd, colossal reap-off, we’ve gone back beyond charity records and are firmly in an older entertainment tradition – the TV Christmas special. There’s a loveable, vaguely tacky pantomime ambience at work here – guest stars galore, in relaxed holiday mode – which overwrites any lingering remnants of the song’s original context or emotional heft, and in fact makes its bombastic arrangement enjoyable kitsch. You might say “Perfect Day”’s drive at the spectacular kills the feeling in the song – the specific line readings are mostly just singers performing themselves. But given how overwrought previous charity pass-the-parcels have been, this feels like a price worth paying.

There is one exception to this: Suede’s Brett Anderson drops his vowelly fruitiness for a grave, beaten-down “You’re going to reap just what you sow” to begin the song’s coda, making it sound more like a warning than Reed ever did. This, more than anything, nudged commentators to consider at the politics behind the record. Of course, the BBC didn’t create this simply to give Dr John and Laurie Anderson a Number One single – this is and remains an advert. The whole piece is an argument for the license fee, explicitly stated at the end: without that, you can’t have things like this. For once – between Blair’s election and the death of David Kelly – the BBC could make this case from a position of confidence, which to an unfriendly eye (and there were still many) might look close to hubris.

But if there’s one thing the BBC really had been proven good at, it was creating unusual and spectacular music juxtapositions. They’d had thirty-three years practise at this point. “Perfect Day” works in the same way Top Of The Pops once did, by taking everything happening in music and jumping around between it, making the contrasts the point of the show. But in 1997 TOTP was in decline, shunted opposite Coronation Street on a Friday and subject to perpetual failed relaunches. The new model of how music worked on the BBC was more cautiously curatorial – Matthew Bannister’s Radio 1, with its brief to serve a smaller audience with more explicit tastemaking and a deeper concern with that was cool.

“Perfect Day” straddles these two ideas. It’s a carefully compiled mixture of the current and the classic, of obscure and household names, which then rejects tastefulness in favour of delightful spectacle. It’s a marketing triumph and a lovely moment in the spotlight for some mostly deserving acts. But it’s also the BBC poised between its Top Of The Pops past and its Later With Jools Holland future, a future where the role of “the charts” already looks considerably murkier.



  1. 1
    punctum on 4 Apr 2014 #

    No one seems to have stopped to think about the aptness of “Perfect Day” as an all-star charity record, but in truth the tale of two junkies vainly trying to forget their real lives (“I thought I was someone else/Someone good”) could work either way, since the climactic line “You’re gonna reap just what you sow” does not disallow the hope of escape or salvation; pearls to be scooped up from heaps of apparent ruination. In addition, “Perfect Day” was originally intended as the basis for an extended BBC promotional film, assembling a fair balance of celebrities from different genres of music to prove a point about the catholicism of the music output of a publicly funded broadcasting system. However, following a massive public response to the advertisement (since that was basically what it was – subtext: don’t take our licence money away, this is what it pays for) and equivalent public demand for a record of the performance, it was rushed out as a single with all profits going to the BBC’s annual Children In Need fundraising enterprise.

    It was a good idea, and occasionally executed dazzlingly, but sputters towards a disappointing end after a nearly awesome start. Fittingly, Lou Reed himself tops and tails the performance, though his drawled “drink Sangria in the park” indicates that he already thinks the whole thing is a bit of a joke. The record and video were painstakingly assembled from thirty or so separate shoots and recordings – no one was in the studio at the same time – and joining Lou (in the megastar division) are a very subdued Bono, Bowie and Elton with uncertain murmurs from Suzanne Vega and Morcheeba’s Skye Edwards; Boyzone represent the boyband vote; Lesley Garrett, Sir Thomas Allen, Andrew Davis conducting the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the Brodsky Quartet and tenor horn player Sheona White, the BBC’s 1996 Young Musician Of The Year, represent classical music; Burning Spear’s Winston Rodney appears for reggae; Emmylou Harris (very fine) and Tammy Wynette (in nearly her last creative act) for country; Dr John and Robert Cray for the blues; Courtney Pine for jazz; Joan Armatrading seemingly for the whole of the pre-punk seventies. The substantial indie component comprises Ian Broudie from the Lightning Seeds, a chillingly stark Brett Anderson (who, by standing in for an unavailable Thom Yorke at the last minute, appears on his only number one single), a clearly out to lunch (but quite magical) Evan Dando, Huey Morgan from Fun Lovin’ Criminals (“someone good…yeah”) and a mercifully brief appearance by Shane MacGowan (“Ith thuch thunnn…”). And, of course, if Lou is there, then so is Laurie Anderson, finally getting revenge for “O Superman.”

    As you can see, there’s a sense of multiple wrongs being righted in the procession of number one singles since the participants include many important and crucial musicians who otherwise would never have been mentioned on Popular except in passing or on extended diversion. And for its first half, the record miraculously works; the Horn-esque maximalist production (an in-house job by “The Music Sculptors” and Simon Hanhart) opening up the song, letting chinks of real sunshine and wonder filter through its dubious celebration.

    Sadly, however, its second half descends into a very familiar pattern of yowling and caterwauling in the names of Soul, Passion and Honesty courtesy of the Real Music Not “Tarzan Boy” delegation, principally the piercing (like a tuning fork being inserted into one’s skull) Gabrielle, that incontinent toad and unworthy Mercury winner Heather Small from M People (complete with The Inevitable Sodding Gospel Choir – the Visual Ministry Choir, if you will) and, the final deposit on the cake, Our Old Friend (Wales Division) with his unlovely belch of “yaaaaa gonna REEEEEEEEEEEEAP!” (listening to “I’m Never Gonna Fall In Love Again,” it is easy to detect the clear cues in the song’s arrangement for Mr Jones to “emote”). A pity, but it did its job and overall is still a marked improvement on Duran Duran’s slaughter of the same song on their covers album Thank You, which latter artefact has long since been internationally acknowledged as the World’s Worst Record Ever Ever And I Mean Ever.

  2. 2
    Seb Patrick on 4 Apr 2014 #

    I think a lot of what followed this – endless radio play followed by endless comedy parodies – makes it one of those that’s difficult to appreciate on its own terms. If it had just stayed as the promo, it’d be “Hey, remember that awesome BBC advert from the late ’90s” rather than “The Perfect Day charity single”. If you *can* watch it without considering all the other context, though, then it does remain brilliantly put together. Although it’s hard to get too sniffy about something that raised so much for charidee.

    There’s another layer added to the “was it really an apt choice to be used as a Children in Need single” point, of course: to wit, the idea that the song was presumably chosen due to someone having just seen Trainspotting. I mean, I find it hard to believe it’s just a coincidence…

  3. 3
    Tom on 4 Apr 2014 #

    I vaguely know Jane Frost, the woman who put it together – she now heads up the UK’s biggest market research trade body – so I may ask about the “Trainspotting” connection.

    “Endless comedy parodies” – is this the UK’s first viral?

  4. 4
    wichitalineman on 4 Apr 2014 #

    It’s an interesting coincidence that this crops up just as the BBC has Jo Whiley and Steve Lamacq on trailers celebrating 20 years since they changed the face of British radio, from its Yewtree Roadshow past to a 6Music indie-leaning future. Or, from uncool to cool, at least in Whiley’s eyes. What it makes me think is that 20 years is a long time and they are loudly advertising the fact that they should both be pensioned off, as forebears like DLT were in the 90s.

    This record, so smug it’s like an indie Peter’s Friends, really makes my skin crawl. A cool (but not obvious) song, cool acts like Dr John, cool, professional eccentrics like Shane Magowan, and the very cool Huey Morgan (someone must think he is – how has he kept a job after his disgusting comments about Lauren Laverne?).

    Hats off to Brett Anderson for handling his line with similar cool (as in not warm) aplomb to Kate Bush on Ferry Aid. But that’s not enough to lift this above a 1.

  5. 5
    Mark G on 4 Apr 2014 #

    What shocked most people was the prominence of Michael Hutchence not long after he died.

    It took the BBC to let everyone know it was actually Evan Dando.

    Still, though…

  6. 6
    Tom on 4 Apr 2014 #

    #4 Definitely the spectre of Cool lurks behind this record – but I think its attempt to be cool is thoroughly dashed by the actual execution (to PD’s immense benefit). Bowie is the key man here I reckon. Whether that was intentional or not I don’t know – it wouldn’t be the first time the Beeb had made the serious look gaudy. I can’t imagine the performers weren’t told to ham it up.

    There’s also an awful lot of celebration of Britpop around this week, too, I notice (without wanting to read any of it)

  7. 7
    Mark G on 4 Apr 2014 #

    So, looks like this will get the widest range of marks from the faithful..

    Me, I’ll pass it a five.


  8. 8
    Paul I on 4 Apr 2014 #

    Yeah, at the time this felt very Disco Dad, what with the song steal from Trainspotting (a curation of a curation), and the too-late-to-the-bandwagon adoption of Brett Anderson as yoof representative, and all that horrible Heather Smallpox business at the end, and the general putrid soulless grandiosity.

    But these days I think it’s quite fun. It’s aged into a respectable sort of naff, much like we all have.

  9. 9
    Steve Mannion on 4 Apr 2014 #

    Of those performing I’d never heard of Dr. John, Robert Cray, Thomas Allen or Laurie Anderson before seeing this and wondered who they were – and Burning Spear I only knew because of ETA’s sampling of him on ‘Casual Sub’ earlier that year. Dando and Emmylou Harris I did not initially recognise. I’m intrigued by the thinking that went into the single’s making (selecting a non-hit song to cover, ignoring its contexts, focussing largely on veterans to promote a cause for the young…)…one of the more bizarre chart-toppers on this basis. The inclusion of Broudie makes him a tasty pub quiz question re total number of chart-toppers he features on.

    re Huey coolness I liked him a lot initially (more than FLC as a musical thing really). Post-90s…less and less.

  10. 10
    Tom on 4 Apr 2014 #

    #7 Doubt it, I suspect I’ll be at the high end with a 6.

    Re anti Heather Small sentiment. OK, but she is used here very well, in a Hulk v Thing style battle against Tom Jones – which she loses – with the ringside “reap! reap! reap!” choir adding a final touch of nonsense. I appreciate I’m treading a thin line, but dammit, I think it’s a really funny part. (This record is GREAT for pub imitations, too.)

  11. 11
    James BC on 4 Apr 2014 #

    Loved this at the time. It’s dated a bit but I’d still give it a 7.

    On the CD single there were alternate versions made up of just male vocalists and just female vocalists, suggesting that they got each artist to record the whole song, or at least a fair bit of it, not just the one line assigned to them. Can anyone verify this? Is there a video somewhere of Huey (no surname at that time!) singing the whole song?

  12. 12
    Chelovek na lune on 4 Apr 2014 #

    Nah, I can only presume Ms Small knows where the bodies are buried (metaphorically), either at the Beeb, or at New Labour, or both: her unwelcome, vocally foghorn-honking, presence (and I say this as someone who had some time for Hot House, and even some early M-People) was unavoidable in national life on far too many occasions for the best part of a decade. “What have you done today that makes you feel proud?” Well, ruined this record a bit, anyway.

    I dunno, now. At the time I liked this – the sheer quality of the song is inescapable, as is that of many of the performers; as record by analytical cubism goes it’s OK. But it is like flicking through a “look at how very well connected we are at teh BBC” scrapbook nonetheless. Coherence remains or not? I’m not sure. Really not sure. 6, still, just.

  13. 13
    Cumbrian on 4 Apr 2014 #

    I agree that Bowie is the key performer here. The Bowiesongs blog is incredible – when it comes out as a book, I’ll almost certainly buy it – but I don’t agree with the take that COL has of Bowie’s readings as wry bemusement. His “you made me forget myself” is delivered as if this is Brel or something similar, melodramatic, wistful and with a tinge of regret. Just for that line alone, I can’t give this 1.

    It’s tempting just to run down the list and go, “good”, “bad”, “OK” after each of the people who sing this, and it’s inevitable that people will prefer individual performers as they go along. That said, it’s the idea that’s the thing I think and it is a more than solid one, in terms of what the Beeb are trying to do and the message that they’re trying to put across. Nevertheless, it really makes me wish for a Bowie version and a Brett version and pray there will never be a Heather Small or Tom Jones version, here showing their trademark restraint. It also really plays up annoying tics that are part of it that really stand out in amongst everything else (I can’t stand the way Ian Broudie hits “such” in his line, I also can’t stand the way Gabrielle sings “witha you”). So it’s a solid idea, with a minority of things I really like, quite a few things I can take or leave and some which over dominate or irritate. A perfect metaphor for the BBC then.

    I like Fun Lovin’ Criminals (100% Columbian’s non-heavy rock stuff is really good, I think, in a weird, pastichey sort of way) but I’ve never understood why Huey is so full of himself. Fast is the one who makes the music and is the key multi-instrumentalist. He’s one of those guys who is the face of, yet the sideman in, his own band. Maybe he’s blessed with a lack of self awareness.

  14. 14
    swanstep on 4 Apr 2014 #

    Hearing this (and seeing its video) for the first time now, I guess I absolutely hate that the soprano sax is allowed to faff around all over the top of Ronson’s string section middle eight that everybody loves, but I can live with the rest of it. At least half of the voices are pretty interesting (esp. Emmylou, Bono – recovering nicely from his massacre of Hallelujah in the Mid ’90s – Tom Jones, and some of the classical folk). Lou sadly is just too off-key even by his relaxed standards.

    As for the original song: I know everyone loves the junkie interpretation but the song is open to very universal interpretations. Lots of people hate themselves and are deeply frustrated by what they have to do to earn a living, and can appreciate a blissful weekend day when they forget themselves. Stockbrokers, Alastair Campbell-types, and many others can see themselves as barely hanging on, worry about someday reaping what they’ve sown in their day-jobs, and so on.

    I didn’t realize until checking now that ‘Perfect Day’ was originally ‘Walk on the Wild Side”s B-side. Mind boggled; best single ever contender surely. I’d give it the edge over, e.g., ‘I get Around’/’Don’t Worry Baby’; there may be a couple of things above it but that’s it… Anyhow, even though this version of PD isn’t ideal, it’s fabulous to get Lou and half of one of the greatest singles ever to the top of the charts eventually:
    5 (original track’s a 9)

  15. 15
    Mark G on 4 Apr 2014 #

    I never heard the song before BEF’s excellent cover version on “Music of Quality and Distinction Vol 1”, and am thankful I didn’t discover it via Duran (still never heard it but)

  16. 16
    alexcornetto on 4 Apr 2014 #

    My parents got me the single when I was a kid, I am a huge Lemonheads fan, and yet I still had absolutely no idea that Evan Dando was on this until I read this post. Weirdly, he’d already done a version of this song with Kirsty MacColl in 1995 (one year before Trainspotting came out, no less).

    My question, for the older wiser sorts, is this: was ‘Perfect Day’ always the kind of big canonical song it is today, or did that come about post-Trainspotting/Children in Need single? I never quite could grasp if it was a cult concern that exploded through mainstream use, or if it had grabbed the public imagination from year dot. I mean, I know Transformer is Lou’s most popular album, but still…

    Oh, and mainly for the warm fuzzy glow of nostalgia (and the fact it was the first version of the song I ever heard – took ages for the sax-solo-less original to sound right to me…) this gets a 7 from me.

  17. 17
    Mark G on 4 Apr 2014 #

    #14 so how many on this record had not hit No 1 before, but did again with a later single?

    (one bunny….)

  18. 18
    Steve Mannion on 4 Apr 2014 #

    Having read and realised the original purpose behind this cover now I rescind my intrigue above.

    Fun fact: Huey recorded his bit dozens of times in order to make sure he got the right “…Yeah”.

  19. 19
    wichitalineman on 4 Apr 2014 #

    Re 16: Cult concern before Trainspotting I’d say (as was Lust For Life) – I don’t remember hearing it any more often than I heard Satellite Of Love. It does seem astonishing that RCA stuck it on a b-side. Vicious was the second single off Transformer, with Satellite Of Love on the b-side.

    Re 19: Haha! I can believe it.

  20. 20
    James BC on 4 Apr 2014 #

    Not convinced by people saying Bowie is some vital lynchpin of this. He’d been releasing rubbish for well over a decade at this point, and I just find his faux-thoughtful delivery as annoying here as everywhere else.

    The first comment is rather unnecessarily mean about Gabrielle, the finest British singer of her generation. Boo!

  21. 21
    Tom on 4 Apr 2014 #

    Fun Lovin’ Criminals felt like something new to me when I encountered them – a band (it seemed to me) really cynically appropriating a particular kind of pop culture “cool” in a way that was catnip for a small but profitable demographic and poisonously infuriating outside it. I’m sure there had been 80s equivalents though – bands really crassly latching onto some signifiers of cool or other and just riding them until they broke – which I wasn’t distant enough to really see as that.

  22. 22
    mapman132 on 4 Apr 2014 #

    So the most successful group in album chart history, Various Artists, gets their first #1 single. For some reason, VA sounds different on every record – they’re quite genre-busting….

    Seriously though, I used to think the VA credit on this record was weird (as opposed to a Band Aid/USA for Africa type moniker), but after reading Tom’s writeup it makes sense now. Unsurprisingly this was never a hit in the US. It would be interesting for PBS to try this sort of thing, although I’m sure it would come nowhere near #1 as PBS has a much, much lower profile in the US than the BBC does in the UK. Agree with the review: this is fairly pleasant as charity records go, and 6/10 sounds right.

  23. 23
    wichitalineman on 4 Apr 2014 #

    Re 21: In the early 80s Modern Romance scored a hit with Everybody Salsa by pinching the music press-sponsored Blue Rondo A La Turk’s act – they then rode their Latino-spiv-funk thing long and hard (Ay Ay Ay Ay Moosey was worse, Best Years Of Our Lives a contestant for the worst record ever made) until it sounded more like Black Lace than Klactoveesedstein. I think Marcello has written about this.

    Huey Morgan’s wiki entry starts with a bang: “In his youth he got into trouble with the law [citation needed].” His overdone New Yorkishness reminds me of D.I. Fowler in Catterick:


  24. 24
    sükråt tanned rested unlogged and awesome on 4 Apr 2014 #

    are we not here tiptoeing round the suck-vortex that is mr blobby gillespie? :)

  25. 25
    sükråt tanned rested unlogged and awesome on 4 Apr 2014 #

    Speaking of whom: if my dim memories do not confuse me, the “records you must own” finger pointed FAR more at the VU in the late 70s and 80s than solo Reed, who didn’t entirely rehabilitate himself for this kind of perspective until maybe New York? Canonism wasn’t quite the thing we now know anyway (nor did it really concern itself with individual songs or singles in the same way): it emerged in its recognisable modern form along with the shift from vinyl to digital, which saw enormous budget re-release programmes, and a review media springing up to service these (Q, for example). It’s more a product of famine than feast [update: I mean FEAST THAN FAMINE, sorry]: you’re deciding what to overlook or cull, from the overwhelming array of “everything”. The 70s were much more famine than feast; the early 80s the sluggish turnaround into feast.

    1997 was the yea of Bowie’s Earthling, which I guess is some kind of potential re-emergence of non-naff Bowie — or actually not, but he’s naff in a rather different and somewhat more interesting way. (I like it anyway.) I don’t actually think he can pull off wry bemusement; he’s a sentimentalist far more than he’s an ironist.

  26. 26
    punctum on 4 Apr 2014 #

    “Aye, ah told Lou ootside Cooper’s Fine Fare in Hamilton tae call his album Hope And Keen’s Crazy Bus but he widnae listen. Wee Wullie Reid ended up gie’in’ me his first edition copies o’ Kraftwerk 1 & 2 ‘cos he wanted some Robert’s Robots bubblegum cairds.”

    I wrote about Modern Romance (and others) here: http://nobilliards.blogspot.co.uk/2013/11/various-artists-raiders-of-pop-charts.html

  27. 27
    sükråt tanned rested unlogged and awesome on 4 Apr 2014 #

    (Actually canonism’s concern with individual songs possibly did not emerge largescale until mp3 culture, I suspect: of course people did make mixtapes of “the good stuff” by favoured artists, off otherwise bad LPs, but I don’t recall it generating list-making tendencies much till the late 90s.) (tho to be fair I was paying much attention in the mid-90s: it was in strong swing by the time I arrived at ILM, presumably fostered on usenet etc).

  28. 28
    Tom on 4 Apr 2014 #

    Famine vs Feast – Julian Cope’s and Morrissey’s autobiographies both spend time on musical discovery and questing in a very famine-ish way. Though admittedly, Cope is mostly concerned to prove he was into Faust before Jim Kerr was.

  29. 29
    anto on 4 Apr 2014 #

    That line about Huey made me laugh. Someone I know used to do brilliant impressions of nearly everyone on this track – Doctor John (‘such a poifict day), Heather Small (‘such a pahrfict day’) and Ian Broudie (‘oh its sooch a purr-fect day’). I think Brett Anderson’s contribution is best, he seems to have a real feel for the song. Maybe because it’s not a million miles from Suede’s own ballads which often have a similar theme of glorious escape – ‘The Wild Ones’ and ‘By The Sea’ are two that spring to mind.

  30. 30
    sükråt tanned rested unlogged and awesome on 4 Apr 2014 #

    Slight tweak to the above: cover collections — like Ferry’s solo LPS, BEF’s Music of Q&D, the Banshees’ Looking Glass and haha Duran Duran — are of course concerned with individual songs. Ferry was radically expanding the potential reach of what counted as a “rock song” — by weird juxtaposition as much anything — where BEF and the Banshees were somewhat consolidating the backstory of “new pop” (arguably, anyway: and possibly they would not have described what they were up to in exactly these words).

  31. 31
    Mark G on 4 Apr 2014 #

    Ferry’s covers from around that time are massively underrated (“The In Crowd” and “Hard Rain” particularly, but there are many others)

  32. 32
    sükråt tanned rested unlogged and awesome on 4 Apr 2014 #

    not by me!

  33. 33
    Billy Hicks on 4 Apr 2014 #

    The bit I’ll always remember – and that which stood out to me the most – was Sir Thomas Allen’s epic ‘YOU JUST KEEEEP ME HAAAANGING ONNNNN!’ baritone following Bono, perhaps more so as it was used as the final line of the shortened BBC trailers that aired once the full-length ones stopped. Characteristically going against most of the crowd, Bowie always irritated me on this (his comedy head-nod on “You made me forget myself” just looked like he was taking the piss) whereas I love Heather Small’s contribution, perhaps because to me her voice basically *is* the mid-1990s given M People’s radio domination from 1993 to 1995. Anything she sings makes me nostalgic and the bigger the better.

    I also, for years, thought Evan Dando was Bob Geldof.

    Definitely worth a look is a pre-Little Britain spoof from Matt Lucas and David Walliams in 2001, which might seem a bit simplistic in places but age 13 I thought it was one of the funniest things I’d ever seen. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OsK_DKkkGUE

  34. 34
    MikeMCSG on 4 Apr 2014 #

    Number one when I got married and played as last song at our reception as a consequence. Neither of us particularly liked it but it’s with us come what may.
    At the time I was fizzing at it (and a forthcoming U2 single) for giving Boyzone some credibility. Now I’m grateful you-know-who weren’t on it – perhaps a case of “You stick with your Cell Block H repeats on Channel 5 girls !”

  35. 35
    Cumbrian on 4 Apr 2014 #

    32: You’ve mentioned two of my favourite Ferry covers but I also have a major soft spot for “The Price of Love”, the re-readings of Roxy stuff that’re on “Let’s Stick Together” and his version of “Take Me To The River” (which he might have nicked inspiration from Talking Heads for, or the other way around – if anyone has any ideas as to the line of influence – if any – there, I am all ears).

  36. 36
    anto on 4 Apr 2014 #

    #14 – Good point. I’ve never thought of it as a drugs song either. When I think about it my favourite songs by Lou Reed are the ones like this or ‘I’ll Be Your Mirror’ or ‘Pale Blue Eyes’ – Never the most melodious singer but he had a real skill for writing non-abrasive tunes.

  37. 37
    wichitalineman on 4 Apr 2014 #

    Re 29: I hear Dr John’s contribution as a Noo Yoiky “poifict day” too – wasn’t coming from New Orleans his whole schtick though? Was he just trying to upstage Huey Morgan?

    Re Ferry: I thought I was sort of my own there… Hard Rain and Price Of Love at least equals the originals, The In Crowd destroys Dobie Gray’s version. These Foolish Things was one of the first albums I ever owned, given to me (along with Davy Graham’s first album, which I thought was boring, and two Tyrannosaurus Rex albums which I loved) by my mum’s workmate Grizelda.

  38. 38
    sükråt tanned rested unlogged and awesome on 4 Apr 2014 #

    Let’s Stick Together came out in Feb 78, More Songs abt B&F in July; but of course Talking Heads were playing in on-stage before they recorded it. I can’t think of a single Ferry cover version of a band or artist that “post-dates” him, however: unlike Bowie he seems neither anxious about nor interested in the current thing.

  39. 39
    glue_factory on 4 Apr 2014 #

    I mistook both Evan Dando (Michael Hutchence) and Dr John (Barry Adamson!)

  40. 40
    punctum on 4 Apr 2014 #

    #38: Let’s Stick Together was summer of ’76. The Bride Stripped Bare was BF’s ’78 album.

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    sükråt tanned rested unlogged and awesome on 4 Apr 2014 #

    yes sorry, BSB is what I meant — it’s the one his version of “Take Me to the River” is on. I even looked it up to check and promptly forgot!

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    Cumbrian on 4 Apr 2014 #

    #37: The One Week One Band on Ferry’s cover versions is pretty good, I think, if you’ve not read it.

  43. 43
    lonepilgrim on 4 Apr 2014 #

    I liked this at the time – it’s a gorgeous tune which most of the performers are unable to destroy and which a few do well. Bono is surprisingly acceptable and Brett Anderson and Emmylou Harris the standouts IMO. I don’t hate Heather Small’s voice as much as some do here although I can imagine that a whole albums worth of her might push me over the edge.

  44. 44
    weej on 4 Apr 2014 #

    I really can’t remember how impressed I was with it at first, but I remember pointing people out to my parents – “that’s Brett Anderson” “she’s in Morcheeba” and so on, and watching it again it’s nothing but a pleasant memory which even Boyzone can’t completely spoil. I wish the BBC had the confidence to make something like it again. Would it even be possible now, though? Music seems to have also moved on in some ways that might make it difficult.

    I remember being pleasantly surprised by it popping up at number one again after Christmas, making it one the few #1s to have runs in different years, don’t think that’s been mentioned yet.

  45. 45
    Another Pete on 4 Apr 2014 #

    #9 wrong Burning Spear. That was the name of a track by S.O.U.L. not this chap.

    One of the better charity singles that actually works thanks to the fact original is so flat, compared this to the forgettable 1999 VA charity offering ‘It’s only rock n’ roll’. Where clearly almost everyone on it at some point in their youth has pretended to be Mick Jagger in front of the mirror, and have finally been given the chance to do so on record.

  46. 46
    tonya on 4 Apr 2014 #

    I can’t imagine wanting to actually listen to this, all the different vocal styles are jarring. Maybe if you’d never heard the song, as in there’s no version of Do they know it’s Christmas where Paul Young sings everything and therefore Band-Aid sounds normal. As someone who knows the song (and likes my pop music sung by pop singers), I’d say it’s a nice tv ad that I would never want to hear on the radio.

  47. 47
    thefatgit on 4 Apr 2014 #

    I have a massive soft spot for Lou Reed. And I had plenty of goodwill towards “Perfect Day” being used in Trainspotting. Like Tarantino, Boyle has a finely tuned sense of which songs would be effective in his movie soundtracks.

    When the BBC appropriated PD for their promo, it was definitely a water-cooler moment with all the stars present, covering a multitude of genres. And there was Lou & Laurie smiling benignly on a vastly bloated and wasteful BBC arguing for its own existence, as if it mattered in the slightest to them. Huey. Evan Dando. Dr John. Emmylou Harris. Yeah, they all love the BBC so much, don’t they? (OK, Huey’s on the payroll these days). Oh, and please keep paying your licence fee, because all this wonderful musical diversity is only possible due to the unique way the BBC is funded. I wasn’t buying it for a second, but we were on the cusp of something, with cable and satellite pulling greater numbers of subscribers, many people were asking if “dear old Auntie Beeb” was relevant, or at all necessary. Even as a Sky subscriber, there were certain programmes on BBC that I felt a strong bond with. I was still a regular watcher of Eastenders in 1997 as well as Men Behaving Badly. The wealth of channels still didn’t dim my enthusiasm for long-running shows like Mastermind. Ground Force had just started as well with Earth Mother Charlie Dimmock and her water features (I could also mention a certain children’s programme, but Bunny is watching).

    But despite all this, I felt the licence fee on top of my Sky subscription was a bit cheeky. And it still is a bit cheeky, with the inflated salaries of its in-house talent and superfluous executives, lurching from one controversy to the next. PD being pulled into service to “save” an institution doesn’t deserve #1 status. Children In Need adds a sheen of respectability. In my mind, it’s still an advert.

  48. 48
    Andrew Farrell on 4 Apr 2014 #

    Some of the subtext here is presumably also “Sorry for that whole Received Pronunciation business”

  49. 49
    Andrew Farrell on 4 Apr 2014 #

    #46 I briefly misread you to mean that there was such a version, and you’d heard it before the Band-Aid version.

    Also of course Paul Young was thrown onto the opening lines at a moderately late point after they had originally been written for… David Bowie.

  50. 50
    iconoclast on 4 Apr 2014 #

    This is pleasant enough in its own way and generally the variety of voices works pretty well, although I agree with Punctum that it eventually loses its way. Starts out an 8, ends up a 6, therefore SEVEN.

    (Bunny alert: were the actual bunnies in the video serendipitously prophetic?)

  51. 51
    flahr on 4 Apr 2014 #

    “(This record is GREAT for pub imitations, too.)” OTM: 7.

  52. 52
    Pink champale on 4 Apr 2014 #

    I agree wholeheartedly on the brilliance of Ferry’s Hard Rain. One of the very few covers that is successful in giving the song a completely different meaning – while in doing so shining a light on something that was clearly in there from the start even if no one realised it. And not just by slower is more meaningful either. He really made it his own, as Louis would say

  53. 53
    Alfred on 4 Apr 2014 #

    sw00ds of Rockcritics.com and I recorded a 12-hour podcast on every Roxy/Ferry project through 2007. Ned Raggett joins us for a coda devoted to The Jazz Age: http://rockcriticsarchives.com/audiovisual/index-roxy.html

    I’m with sw00ds: the first Ferry covers album is a work of genius, and at a certain age eye-opening. A must read: http://oneweekoneband.tumblr.com/tagged/bryan_ferry_covers/chrono

  54. 54
    PurpleKylie on 4 Apr 2014 #

    As a 9 year-old pop fan at the time, this was naturally my first introduction to “Perfect Day” many years before I came across the original. I didn’t know who most of the artists involved were, I think I only recognised that M People woman, the Lightning Seeds bloke, Elton obviously and (puke) Boyzone (I hated them even back then).

    As for Adult Me now, I actually think this is one of the few (and probably the last) charity records that didn’t suck. And this is coming from someone who is veryyyyyy wary of cover versions. Obviously it doesn’t shine the shoes of the original but I still like it mainly for nostalgia. Thank you BBC!

  55. 55
    Pink champale on 4 Apr 2014 #

    Wow, that OWOB is fabulous. Haven’t yet started on the nine hour podcast though

  56. 56
    a tanned rested and unlogged lørd sükråt wötsît on 4 Apr 2014 #

    not even indirectly, scott woods is the whole reason i know tom and am on freaky trigger: i posted something on rockcritics.com in 1999 or 2000 — about the paul morley “review of the top ten” that’s been linked several times — and tom sent me an email inviting me over to early-days ILM

    (i knew of scott via frank kogan: we were both contributors for frank’s why music sucks)

  57. 57
    swanstep on 5 Apr 2014 #

    @42, 53. Thanks for the OWOB Ferry Covers reference. Skimming through now, it looks very nice. A whole weekend’s reading and listening ahead perhaps: just a perfect day, Ferry covers in the park…

  58. 58
    wichitalineman on 5 Apr 2014 #

    Re 42: Thanks, I haven’t seen that, and I’m looking forward to reading it.

  59. 59
    Ed on 5 Apr 2014 #

    @25 Yep. The NME’s 1985 “99 best albums of all time” list has the first three Velvets albums, in chronological order, at #16, #35 and #60, and ‘Berlin’ as the only solo Lou at #70.

    That was the first proper written-down canon that I ever encountered, and if I’m being honest is still what I think of as the only true one.

  60. 60
    Ed on 5 Apr 2014 #

    Also in defence of Heather Small, surely you have to love her forever for the fantastic popist coup of winning the 1994 Mercury Prize over ‘Parklife’, that terrible Primal Scream album, and Ian sodding McNabb. (Admittedly, maybe The Prodigy had a right to feel aggrieved, but if ‘Music for the Jilted Generation’ had won they would have been given the prize for the wrong album.)

    Also @38, etc, on ‘Take Me to the River’: internet legend has it that Eno heard the Ferry version and decided to nick it for TH. Don’t know if it’s true, but it’s exactly the sort of thing he would have done.

    The definitive version of TMTTR, though, is of course this one:


  61. 61
    anto on 5 Apr 2014 #

    #60 – I’m astonished that the Primal Scream album was even nominated – Without doubt the worst long player that I’ve ever handed over cash for. Rather bemusingly it featured a hidden track that was if anything even more crappy than the other songs – Hidden for a reason.

  62. 62
    punctum on 5 Apr 2014 #

    #60: No I fucking well don’t. A big and stupid disaster from which the Mercury prize has never really recovered. Newsflash to “popists,” because I know for a fact that you don’t know this – some pop music is shit.

  63. 63
    Rory on 6 Apr 2014 #

    I hadn’t heard this version until all the Lou Reed obits last year, and haven’t listened to it more than a few times, but it has one big thing going for it: it lets you imagine, in the space of four minutes, something like thirty different cover versions of a very fine original, saving almost two hours of listening time. Which you can then use to listen to Transformer three more times, or watch Trainspotting again.

    Some of those imagined cover versions I would happily hear in full, especially Brett Anderson’s (but also Bono’s, Bowie’s, Suzanne Vega’s… quite a few of them, actually), and a few I’d skip (Joan Armatrading was surprisingly subdued), but in most cases the singers’ readings of one or two lines are enough to evoke the whole, and render full versions unnecessary. Not many tracks capture that sense of hours of music within a single song. The obvious multi-artist charity comparisons, Band Aid, USA for Africa, “Sun City”, don’t give the same sense of hidden vistas, because they were originals. The closest comparison that comes to my mind is Stairways to Heaven, an album collecting covers of the Led Zeppelin song performed as a running gag on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s comedy talk-show The Money or the Gun (which the UK knew for Rolf Harris’s contribution, an out-of-context novelty hit here). But that was a compilation album, not a single song. A compilation song, that’s what this is: the Various Artists moniker feels entirely appropriate.

    I like it for its source, its witty juxtapositions (MacGowan, especially), the shamelessness of those chanted “reap”s, and the fact that it wasn’t conceived as a charity single and released as “Artists United for Auntie Beeb”. There’s certainly enough entertainment here to justify a 6.

    Tom mentions Later with Jools Holland: there’s a Later performance by Lou Reed of this song on YouTube, with an almost unlistenable vocal and a dude doing Tai Chi off to the side; I haven’t made it all the way through it.

    A lot of bagging of Duran Duran’s version above, but Lou Reed admired their take on it, and you have to wonder if its release in 1995 helped inspire the use of the original on Trainspotting and some of the musical choices in this version.

    I’m surprised that this thread hasn’t inspired many digressions by fans of the artists represented here who never had number ones in their own right. I, for one, plan to push it past 200 comments with my extended analysis of the complete works of Suede. (Later. And then home.)

  64. 64
    Rory on 6 Apr 2014 #

    (Comment-in-moderation-queue heads-up.)

    (Edit: Heads-up-in-moderation-queue heads-up.)

  65. 65
    Rory on 6 Apr 2014 #

    Curiosity is prompting me to test whether this third comment in a row ends up in the moderation queue…

    Edit: Yes! I am the Modfather.

  66. 66
    Paulito on 6 Apr 2014 #

    Whenever I hear Heather Small’s voice, on this or any other record, I can’t help but recall an NME review that likened it to the sound of snot being vigorously smeared on a window pane.

  67. 67
    James Masterton on 6 Apr 2014 #

    One of the more positive and understated consequences of the Diana record was that it ushered in the golden age of the CD single. The literal million or so who had queued up to buy that record were suddenly persuaded of the idea that purchasing a single that they happened to have heard on the radio or on TV was a neat idea – this also coinciding with the major supermarkets realising they were a commodity worth devoting shelf space to – both for pester power purposes and also to grab the interest of the casual shopper who would never be seen dead in their local HMV.

    Thus this period features a number of singles which were unexpectedly enormous sellers as they tapped into this market of people who wanted to put something next to Candle In The Wind on the shelf and found much to appeal to them.

    Perfect Day was the perfect supermarket record. Promoted to an audience normally outside the reach of pop music, all in aid of charidee and one which managed the usual feat of featuring some achingly cool artists yet being nailed to the middle of the road at the same time. My mum bought a copy. As did I.

    Over the next few months of chart history there are a number of these records – Never Ever, My Heart Will Go On. All million sellers, all with ‘housewife’ appeal.

    1998 was a Golden Age for grown ups music in the charts, feeding the sales frenzy of 1999 and 2000 as a younger generation caught up and purchased singles in the same massive numbers.

  68. 68
    admin on 6 Apr 2014 #

    Yep – we have a problem with the anti-spam system (Akismet) that might be down to our a change by our server hosts. we’ll keep you posted.

  69. 69
    Rory on 6 Apr 2014 #

    #67: No worries. Sorry about the string of bemused midnight comments.

    Another reason I like this, or at least find it novel: we talked a bit about charity records as protest records on the Dunblane thread; the “Sun City” single definitely was one, but even Band Aid could be considered a political record as well as a charitable one. (Even CITW ’97 in a certain light, as we just discussed.) This record, too, was a protest of sorts: a preemptive protest against changes to the licence fee. A lobbying effort, effectively, by a government body and aimed at ministers, MPs and the wider public. It seems pretty unlikely that such an effort would result in a listenable record, let alone a number one. Had that ever happened before?

  70. 70
    Tom on 6 Apr 2014 #

    #67 weirdly I’ve just been writing about the supermarket effect in the next entry – though obviously that one can’t really be framed as grown up music (or actually it could – but a particular subset of grown ups)

  71. 71
    Billy Hicks on 6 Apr 2014 #

    Yep, we’re now well and truly into an astonishing age for single sales here which continues more or less until the summer of 2002. It actually started with ‘I Wanna Be The Only One’ back in May, since then every week bar one – Hanson’s third – has seen the #1 sell at least 100,000 copies. Although we’ve got years of this to come until the Great Singles Slump Of The Early Noughties hits us in late ’02, it’s worth noting that the year 2000 is actually a little down on 1999 (hello Napster) but 2001 picks things up again thanks to its several million-sellers. After that it’s down all the way until January 2005 and up all the way until Summer 2013.

    The absolute peak of all of this though was late 1997 to early 1998, which as mentioned is just a frenzy of million-sellers one after the other – not just this and the #1s to come but also Torn (peaked at #2) and Angels (peaked at #4!), with even a novelty pop track way down at number 14 selling well over 300,000 copies which I think was a record for a non-top tenner at the time.

    The track? ‘5,6,7,8’ by a bunch of fresh-faced newcomers called Steps.

  72. 72
    Ed on 6 Apr 2014 #

    @69 Clearly what we need right now is a charity / lobbying cover version to make the case for the NHS.

    ‘Touch Me I’m Sick’?

  73. 73
    swanstep on 6 Apr 2014 #

    @Ed, 72. How about Radiohead’s ‘Lurgee’ (an early fan fave)?

  74. 74
    AMZ1981 on 6 Apr 2014 #

    A couple of points nobody seems to have picked up on, interestingly concerning the two Perfect Day contributors that have been most bashed on here.

    Firstly Boyzone had the rare distinction of featuring on both the top two singles when their cover of Baby Can I Hold You entered at two on Perfect Day’s second week. This gave them a hat trick of number two records, one of two acts in 1997 to do (Sash being the other).

    Secondly the much maligned Heather Small. Obviously we never get a chance to discuss her in her own right but it’s interesting that nobody has noted her prior appearance on a number one single which was on the rerecorded Ride On Time.

  75. 75

    why not curate a PERFECTER perfect day? who would you keep? who would you drop? who would you draft? (some notes towards a possible poll)

  76. 76
    Izzy on 6 Apr 2014 #

    it’s interesting that nobody has noted her prior appearance on a number one single which was on the rerecorded Ride On Time.


  77. 77
    AMZ1981 on 6 Apr 2014 #

    #76 I’m assuming you’re familiar with Ride On Time and the controversy surrounding the Loleatta Hollaway sample. Midway through that record’s chart run the original version was withdrawn and replaced with one featuring a soundalike vocal from the then unknown Heather Small.

  78. 78
    Izzy on 6 Apr 2014 #

    Amazing. I had no idea about that. Has it ever happened before or since? It almost makes them separate no.1s

  79. 79
    Kinitawowi on 7 Apr 2014 #

    I mostly recall this one for how quickly Harry Enfield And Chums managed to rush out a parody (which I’m not entirely sure wasn’t responsible for giving this the second wind it needed to get back to number one after Christmas).

    But yeah. An interesting collection of artists that would otherwise never have got close to number one (there’s a couple of Morcheeba songs that I like, but…), and a nice dance through the genres as noted way up top, slightly tainted by the knowledge that it’s a BBC promo piece (which I wasn’t aware of at the time – I remember thinking it a bit weird that the BBC were okay to run a parody of a charity record, which of course it wasn’t really). Separate it from the context and it’s still a pretty decent collection of outtakes (a few people have noted that whole songs by some of these artists might be pretty good). 7, I think.

    Huey FLC’s greatest work in the last ages was undoubtedly his role as Toxic Bob in the third generation of Skins.

  80. 80
    nixon on 7 Apr 2014 #

    Re 79: the “second wind” was more likely due to the Beeb producing a “Christmas version” of the video, exactly the same but with snow and fairy lights replacing the sunny garden scenes, which went into heavy rotation some time after the original had already begun to be cut back/shown in shorter form. YouTube has a few copies for the curious who don’t remember, but I recall it being a ubiquitous presence in the week after Christmas 97.

  81. 81
    glue_factory on 7 Apr 2014 #

    Re: 78, did that other version definitely get released in the UK? I’m surprised never to have heard of it, especially given its vocalist. The wikipedia page points to discogs, and that’s the entry for a German cd single (although it does describe it as the “UK Remix”).

  82. 82
    AMZ1981 on 7 Apr 2014 #

    #81 I’m not quite sure of all the ins and outs but the Wikipedia article for Ride On Time http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ride_on_Time states that the Heather Small re-recording was substituted for the original during the second week of September. Ride On Time hit the top on w/e 9th September so it would have depended how long it took for existing stock of the Loleatta Hollaway version to sell through.

    I’ve reread Tom’s original piece on Ride On Time and in the discussion there’s a comment that the original Hollaway version is quite hard to find now as the Small rerecording became the one used for video and radio purposes. It’s to Black Box’s and Small’s credit that the substitution is not obvious.

    I think that’s right. I was a bit too young to have followed this first time around and it’s not my genre.

  83. 83
    Mark G on 7 Apr 2014 #

    Hang on, if that had happened, I’d have noticed the difference, I’m sure.

  84. 84
    Billy Hicks on 7 Apr 2014 #

    Re Ride on Time, neither version is hard to find and indeed it seems to be a case of pot luck on compilations (and music channels) which version you get, Holloway’s or Small’s. I’ve definitely seen 7″ copies of the re-recorded version (labelled the ‘Massive Mix’ for some reason) and compilations from late 1989 all seem to include Small’s, but in general today whatever the issue was at the time seems to be no longer such a big deal and you just tend to hear whatever copy was picked off the shelf first. In the last ten years I’d pretty much say it’s bang on 50% whether I’ve heard either version played.

    And for those wondering which version they’re most familiar of, here’s Loletta’s: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MiJ2B8PFjqU

    And here’s Small’s, which seems to be on all the Youtube video copies: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4lOb799cTxM

    I’d say the biggest difference is on the “You’re such a” (you’re such a, you’re such a” line, where Loletta sings it fairly normally where Small makes it sound oddly Northern by going “YOU’RE SOOCH AH”. Listen for yourself!

  85. 85
    Middlerabbit on 7 Apr 2014 #

    I was 26 when this was released and had been familiar with the song for about 8 years. I liked The VU, and by this point had their albums and a few of Reed’s. Transformer was, by far, my favourite. I quite enjoyed Berlin, to the extent that you can ‘enjoy’ that sort of wallowing in other’s misery. I probably liked the story about Bob Erin getting the sound of kids’ crying hysterically by telling them that their mother had died. His own kids. I say, ‘liked’, probably, I marvelled at the insensitivity of it more.

    I worked part time at the local Odeon and, when Trainspotting came out, my fellow ushers and I would play ‘spot the student pretending to be on heroin’ as we showed people to their seats. There were lots and lots to choose from. Regardless of the producers’ claim to the contrary, Trainspotting made the lifestyle seem quite attractive to a substantial number of young people. I’m not judging anyone, but Trainspotting was a big thing in a lot of ways. We’d call out a mark out of ten and give the winner a small tub of melted ice cream after the adverts. It passed the time.

    I enjoyed the use of PD in Trainspotting. I’d never really thought about it relating to heroin and I don’t necessarily think it does. Trainspotting popularised it, no doubt in my mind. It was, as someone’s said “culty”. Trainspotting put it firmly in the mainstream. Which was what Britpop was, in general. Indie goes mainstream. Which happened following the investment of majors into indies when they realised that they could make money from it, after The Stone Roses.

    I enjoyed this version of it, not least in terms of comedy value. I thought Dr. John’s ‘poyfect’ was entertaining. I thought Bono did what Noël Gallagher made a career out of: sounding ‘deep’, but without any real understanding of what he was saying. Like me reading something in German and trying to put emphasis and expression into a language I have no understanding of at all. Tom Jones and Heather Small just bellowing in tribute to William Faulkner/Shakespeare, all sound and fury, signifying nothing.

    Brett Anderson in non ‘oh-ho’ mode, for a change. Pantomime horse mode, regretfull, instead. At least he had two forms of expression, unlike Tom or Heather.

    Huey was and is a person who tries so, so very hard to look effortless. Truly cringeworthy. Who buys into this nonsense? Students pretending to be on heroin is my guess.

    It was alright. I didn’t buy it because I didn’t need to. It was on telly every hour or so – I didn’t have satellite tv – and I can’t really think of an occasion when I’d choose to listen to it. I still don’t turn it off if it comes on the radio, as it did following Lou Reed’s death quite often.

    Apart from the contributors generally getting a rough ride here, including the BBC, the main problem was avoiding tokenism. How could they not?

    On the whole, it could have been a lot worse. As po-faced as some of the contributors undoubtedly were, it only added to its comedy value. Which, in turn, diluted some of the (alleged) bleakness that it picked up from the Trainspotting association.


  86. 86
    Middlerabbit on 7 Apr 2014 #

    Also, I forgot about Gabrielle, whose vocal tic of adding ‘-a’ on the end of words that would otherwise require extending in a manner that she was incapable of (perhaps a Mark E Smith influence, I’m joking, of course) is in evidence here, as it was on everything she ever did.

    ‘I’m glad I spent it with-a you’

    In some ways, this sort of thing illustrates how few singers have more than one or two little signatures of their style. It’ says if on this sort of thing, they have to get their tic in, or nobody’ll know it’s them.

    I mentioned Brett Anderson’s habit of singing ‘oh-ho’ on almost everything he ever did, Gabrielle’s ‘-a’ suffix. Who else has a very limited vocal palette?

  87. 87
    glue_factory on 8 Apr 2014 #

    Thanks Billy Hicks and AMZ1981, I never knew any of that. I’m rather looking forward to hearing the Heather Small’s version when I get home tonight.

  88. 88
    Steve Williams on 9 Apr 2014 #

    #80 That’s right. The first time I saw the film was, I remember, in September 1997 when it appeared before BBC2’s Radio 1 Night. I think that might have been its first ever outing. As mentioned, it was shown in various lengths over the next few weeks, though I can’t remember what they did when the Beeb changed their logo a few weeks later.

    But then at Christmas, it was actually billed in the TV guides at various points as “A Perfect Day For Christmas” as almost a programme in its own right. The Harry Enfield parody was on Christmas Eve, so he really got it out sharpish. I remember when that show was repeated the following year they chopped it out completely, because it was the day of the Omagh bombing and it was faded out so they could get to the news on time, and then it didn’t appear in the VHS version, presumably for clearance reasons, and so I never saw it again.

  89. 89
    tm on 9 Apr 2014 #

    I agree with Tom that Heather Small vs Tom Jones is a naff highlight of this rather than an embarrassment. Mind you I liked M People when I was a pre-teen though I’d gone off them by the time of their butchering Itchycoo Park. In fact I like (in small doses) voices that are bordering on the silly.

    The singers who irk me most on this and indeed on covers in general are those who mess with the timing. It’s something a few great singers (and Mark E Smith) can do well and on the right track but most just sound like they’re doing it because that’s what a jazz singer would do, telegraphing that theirs is a proper interpretation and not a karaoke cover version. I don’t think Perfect Day (or most pop songs) benefit from this approach (unless you are actually as good at it as Nina, Billie, Mark E etc) and you notice that the classical singers on this do it completely straight.

  90. 90
    ciaran on 11 Apr 2014 #

    I enjoyed this one more than many of 97’s Number 1’s..I remember watching it on BBC one quiet afternoon well before it was released, thinking it would be forgotten about soon only to reappear soon and get to the top. Friends used to do the operatic bits brilliantly.

    A bit of a risk to make it given how badly charity singles with numerous artists had fared since the late 80s but this one seemed to get it spot on. Getting Bono and Heather Small to sing 2 separate parts was a bit much but overall quite pleasant.


  91. 91
    Steve Williams on 11 Apr 2014 #

    There was a second BBC-derived release of Perfect Day in 2000 based around the Beeb’s Music Live event which was held over the Spring Bank Holiday. The programme itself lasted 24 hours from 10pm on Sunday to 10pm on Monday, with various special shows, there was a live Top of the Pops from Sheffield Arena, a live Blue Peter and sundry other items such as an attempt to create a boyband in 24 hours, before that became an entire entertainment concept in its own right.

    At the climax of proceedings was a Nationwide-esque cross-country link-up where loads of the artists who took part all sang Perfect Day, with Lou Reed himself chipping in from the USA, and that was released as a single. But technically it was all over the place, so it sounded more like a cover of a track from Metal Machine Music.

  92. 92
    James BC on 15 Apr 2014 #

    Going back to the Fun Lovin’ Criminals and their approach of
    adopting a particular stylised “cool” and doing it to death, I’ve been struggling to think of other examples but maybe Lana Del Rey would be a modern-day equivalent.

  93. 93
    benson_79 on 10 Feb 2021 #

    This holds up remarkably well. The BBC did try to repeat the trick a mere six months after this entry was published with a similarly star-studded rendition of God Only Knows which, however, only serves to highlight how they ought to have known better than try to capture lightning in a bottle again.

  94. 94
    Gareth Parker on 8 May 2021 #

    I would go with a 7/10 here. I think this rendition really works.

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