With baseball season underway, it only makes sense that it’s snowing, and that my close comrades and I have been felled by cursed virus. Ah, climate change: you’re an iron-tough mistress.
After seeing some of the most remarkable cathedrals in the UK, and some of most amazing urban centers of Europe, one keepsake above all left a lasting impression on my 13-year-old self: the mix tape my Coventry host made for me, back in 1982. As I described in the opening chapter of *Stealing,* that tape included The Clash, of course, The Selecter, The Specials, Captain Sensible and a host of other bands I had never heard of prior to my visit. Among those songs was “The Clapping Song,” by The Belle Stars, who emerged from the ashes of The Bodysnatchers, whose track “Let’s Do Rock Steady” is part of The Two Tone Story collection. The Bodysnatchers’ origins are a fun tale: first opened for Shane McGowan’s The Nips, then played Debbie Harry’s birthday party, toured with Madness, The Selecter, et. al., and never released an LP.
The Belle Stars, who formed in 1980, saw little success west of the Atlantic, but–like so many great bands of that era–had their moments in the limelight in the UK.
“The Clapping Song” has its own fun history, too. It was first released in 1965, playing off the riff of a 1930s tune, and was covered or sampled (if you will) by Gary Glitter, Tom Waits, UB4o (see the toasting in “Red Red Wine”), and on and on and on. The Belle Stars’ version came out in 1982, and was in heavy rotation that summer in London and Coventry, especially.
Thanks again for checking in on hump day, and I hope you tune in again on Sunday. The anniversary of The Clash’s debut LP is upon us next week, so I hope to cook up something fun for that occasion.