I know somebody who actually paid to see this band live… No really.

There is so much wealth of material in relation to today’s subject that it’s taken me a bit of time to sort through everything. I have decided that I’ll stick with the football and music-related stuff, otherwise this post could go on for a long time. I will also short hand much of the back story and provide links for further reading. I recommend that you do explore.

So then may I present to you today’s featured artists:

The Shirehorses

Mark and the boy Lard

Two of the band members pictured above in 1997 promoting their new light entertainment breakfast programme on the wireless.

Let’s have some bios:

Scrawny Boy There was a young lad name of Mark Radcliffe who was promoted from twiddling the knobs (and Radio 1/One) to presenting a show on the newly established BBC station: Radio 5. This was at a time when the station was trying to find it’s feet, trying to establish an identity. Radcliffe’s first show on this new output was Hit The North.

Lardy BoyNow he wasn’t alone on these programmes. Radcliffe had some company from another Mark, who’s previous job in Mark E. Smith’s musical ensemble was to straighten the lead singer’s Farah slacks. But by the time he met up with the other Mark, Riley was a record plugger who bugged Radcliffe to play the stuff he was pushing. Riley started hanging around all the time and eventually Radcliffe felt sorry for him and gave him something to do. They stayed together for another 14 years.

Notable: It was on Hit The North that Oasis got their first national radio airplay.

From here they moved to another show: The Graveyard Shift which pretty much carried on from where their previous show left off. There were notable contributions from Andrew Collins, Stuart Maconie, Mark Kermode, Katie Puckrick, Greg Proops, Mark Lamarr, Simon Armitage, Harry Hill, Stewart Lee, Richard Herring, Clint Boon… This programme lasted for another three years until they were tapped up for the:

Breakfast show (image above) which proved to be an unhappy time because it was when the ginger tosser Chris Evans had just quit, and their style wasn’t really suited for the early wake up/chatty zoo radio/playlist music that people usually hear. After a few months they were moved to a better and more appropriate time for the:

Afternoon Show where they thrived and came to national attention. The format didn’t change much from their previous shows and they continued with their silliness and sketches, plus pretty much ignored and ridculed the Radio 1 daytime playlist.

Yes, yes that’s all very nice. But what about this band then ? What’s the story (morning glory) behind that ?

DJ’s… they always want to be a popstar. They are failed musicians. But in this case both Scrawny and Lardy Boy had previous experience. Radcliffe played the drums but especially Mark Riley who used to be in The Fall as their bass player. So when it came to creating music it wasn’t a problem and the comedy came naturally.

The spoof song idea was originally tried out on their Hit The North programme. When they moved to Radio 1, the idea was continued and caught the imagination of the nation. These spoofs were instantly recognisable because they chose popular songs in the charts at the time and just put new words to these familiar tunes.

So the songs were created the next step was obviously coming up with a name – and they chose to parody one that John Squire chose for his band: The Seahorses.

Sea who…?   Exactly. They were, like their spoof version, a band that are an minor note in musical history.
You are going to argue with me ? Go on then, name one single they released. Who was in the band ? ‘Nuff said.

The SeahorsesA quick reminder: This was the band that guitarist John Squire formed after the final collapse of the Stone Roses. They released four singles and one album before they also collapsed whilst trying to record their 2nd LP. This was such a bad experience for Squire that he gave up music all together and took up painting. The band were known at the time (1997) as Fauxasis.

Somehow they managed to get signed by a major label (Warners) and their first album (released 1997) was called The Shirehorses present… the worst album in the world… ever… Ever ! (to give it it’s full title). Still available at all retail outlets like Our Price and Woolworths. Or at your nearest Oxfam for 99p. The title being a parody as well of those “Greatest [musical genre here] Album In The World” compilations being churned out.

As mentioned they parodied songs that were in the charts and there’s the risk. You select popular tunes but many of the groups/songs that they spoofed are no longer around now. When looking at it now you have to do some research to reminder yourself of the songs and singers before listening to the parody.

– For example, since the Shirehorses parodied their name, they also did a “version” of the first (and biggest selling) single that The Seahorses released. Their song was Love Is The Law – and The Shirehorses did:

The Shirehorses
» The Shirehorses – Now I Know (Where I’m Going) Our Kid

See ? I I didn’t tell you about the Seahorses, you might not have known which song was being parodied.
I’ll give you a list of other names spoofed on the album, see if you can guess who they were satirizing:
[blockquote]Peela Tater, Baby Bloke, Doofergrass, Edwin Bobbins, Flush, Moronico, Po-fasis[/blockquote] As I said above they picked on chart stars of the day but nearly all of them have disappeared now.

(Peela Tater: Kula Shaker)   aah now you see it.

The best track on this album though, in my humble opinion, is the one the two well know football supporters did their favourite team: Manchester City (finally he gets to the football). Featuring on this song was Alan Bawl (no relation) and the track was about City’s plight back then – sliding down the leagues – and Francis Lee, the beleaguered chairman who was an ex-player and City legend. It didn’t help that he appointed his mate Alan Ball (the real one) who started the slide by getting City relegated from the Premier League.

Sorry…? Who was Alan Bawl (no relation) ? Have a listen here.

So here now is:

Shirehorses
» Dick Cave & The Bad Cheese feat Alan Bawl (No relation) –
The Ballad Of Franny Lee

– A couple more from the album before we move on:

» Edwyn Bobbins – Girl Like You (Hiya) » Baby Bloke – You’re A Bastard

An unexpected thing happened after the album was released – they were invited to open Glastonbury which meant forming an actual band.
They grabbed Chunky’ Rhys Hughes (producer of the Breakfast Show) on bass and ‘Chester’s Dark Prince Of the Mandolin’ (aka Christopher Lee, Radio One sound engineer) on bass, mandolins, pewter tankards…anything lying round really… and off they went.

After Glasto ’97 they embarked on the ”We Came, We Saw, We Cantered’ tour where they performed at student unions and anywhere that would book them really. Such was their success that they even played stadium gigs supporting Blur.

Eventually things wound down and nearly forgotten for a few years but they made a comeback in 2001, releasing a second LP this time it was callled: Our Kid, Eh (and the title of this post). They once again went out on tour to support this difficult second album with a massive tour of err… four dates…

Parodied names on this one included:
Manic Street Sweepers, Robbie and William, Foreplay, Radioshed, Blurb, Status Quorn, Dave Lee Travisty plus the return of Po fasis and Doofergrass.

– To finish off here’s just one track from that album, because in my opin it wasn’t as good as the first:

Shirehorses
» Pixiedancers – Planet Of Sound

Lots of links now:

Full shows (from 2004) incl the last one.
Txt description of last show
Mark & Lard Graveyard Shift 1
Mark & Lard Graveyard Shift 2
– Planet Bods: Fancy A Brew ?
Archive.org – Mark & Lard (but the music removed)
Mark Radcliffe’s Graveyard Shift (clips)
Mark & Lard Sounds Page
Mark Radcliffe and Lard Sounds
Oh Lucky You! (warning, loud music)

...also... Posted on Beat-Nick’s Mixes is a collection of Mark & Lard’s best bits stitched together. I’ve uploaded it to Soundcloud for your listening pleasure.

Extra Time – This live performance from their show, with Mark & Lard on backup shouting:

Shirehorses
» Travis – …Baby One More Time

“Must get some oil for this door…”

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