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Songs by the dumped

May 22nd, 2009 12 comments

karaoke manWomen have I Will Survive to articulate for them how all men are bastards. Nottingham”s Mr Sex of the brilliant Todger Talk blog, which dispenses superb sex and relationship advice to men, pointed out to me at the star-studded gala for the Any Major Blogs Awards earlier this year that men have few equivalent karaoke songs which convey to the nasty ex that he”s well over her “” and perhaps at the same time signal his availability to the lucky laydees who might be so fortunate as to hear him croon such songs. So Nottingham”s Mr Sex set me a challenge: find ten suitable songs which dumped guys can sing with dignified defiance, and he will come up with his own list.

It proved more difficult than I had thought. Dumped guys don”t do gracious much, they don”t do that “who do you think you are, buster?” wiggly neck thing Aretha Franklin does in The Blues Brothers. As we have seen in this series of songs about love, men typically wallow in the dejection of rejection, hoping that their pathetic puppy eyes “” or, worse, an emo outburst “” will extract just enough pity to be taken back. Or they use their heartbreak as an excuse to drink prodigiously and discard the basic doctrines governing personal hygiene and housekeeping.

But that most certainly won”t win her back, nor probably attract a new romance. Much better to jump on stage, grab the mic, and let rip with whichever of these ten songs characterises your back-bouncing emotions.

This being an MP3 blog, I”ve posted links to the music files; the Todger Talk version of this cross-blog has links to video files to all 20 songs, except the Tom Waits track (and a couple not of the originals, though the Garth Brooks karaokist gives it his best shot).

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Ben Folds Five ““ Song For The Dumped.mp3
Song For The Dumped really is the national anthem of embittered dumpees. Ben Folds has been discarded with pitiless diplomacy: “So you wanted to take a break, slow it down some and have some space”¦” He stood no chance; you can”t argue yourself out of that one. How would you respond? And how would you like to respond. Probably like Folds: “Well, fuck you too.” Less than considerate? Perhaps. But, man, he had just BOUGHT HER DINNER. Now he wants his money back, “and don”t forget to give me back my black T-shirt”. Yeah! Give him back the black T-shirt! The new girlfriend is getting cold!

Tom Waits ““ Who Are You.mp3
Ben Folds wants to her to give back the T-shirt; Waits wants her to TAKE back what she gave him: lies. And he”s only getting started in what might be the greatest fuck-off song from the male perspective. “Did my time ““ in the jail of your arms.” Oooh! “Go on ahead and take this the wrong way, time”s not your friend.” Ouch! “Are you pretending to love? Well, I hear that it pays well.” Oooof!

Godsmack ““ I Fucking Hate You.mp3
It is fair to say that Godsmack”s repertoire of scathing zingers is rather more slender than that of Waits and they do lack Ben Folds cutting drollness, but they sing from the heart. Not only was that horrid ex apparently lying to Mr Smack, but she also impugned his good character (and we must trust that his integrity was entirely unimpeachable before), as the lyric suggest: “And every day I”m gonna blame you, even if you justify every fuckin” bullshit lie”¦it only makes me want to break you.” Inarticulation often accompanies a broken heart, which might explain the lyrical descend to the levels subsequently occupied by Paris Hilton on her excursion into the world of popular music: “Don”t ever look my way. Don”t even think I”m playin”, cause I fuckin” hate you. You”re such a liar; I love to hate you” (punctuation is mine; as conceived by the lyricist, none might have been intended). And with that out of the way, we can finally deliberate on the heart of the song: “Fuck you! Fuck you! Fuck you! Fuck you!” And why not? Sometimes that is all that needs to be said.
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.Justin Timberlake ““ Cry Me A River.mp3
The song apparently was a riposte to Britney Spears” alleged infidelity. Likewise, our notional karaoke singer might have been the blameless party in a split generated by a betrayal. He might have done the dumping, but the betrayal was hers. Either way, the relationship is over, no matter how much she begs. “Girl I refuse, you must have me confused with some other guy. Your bridges were burned, and now it”s your turn to cry, cry me a river.” The sentiment, of course, borrows from a much greater song by the same title. That one is more commonly sung by women (best heard in Julie London”s version).

Hank Williams ““ Your Cheating Heart.mp3
Where Timberlake is piqued over Britn”¦ the girl”s infidelity, Hank Williams (the first one, not the McCain-lovin” son) navigates the byways of false empathy as he sketches out what emotional turmoil awaits the indiscreet ex. “Your cheatin” heart will make you weep. You”ll cry and cry and try to sleep.” Just reward for cheating on the doubtless scrupulously faithful Hank. Of course Hank may just be hoping or projecting; the girl might well be pleased to be rid of him, and perhaps with good reason. But just in case she isn”t, he adds: “You”ll toss around and call my name.” And wouldn”t that just settle the score?

Lou Rawls – You”ll Never Find Another Love Like Mine.mp3
Where Hank Williams” wishes psychological suffering upon his ex, Lou is more sanguine about love lost “” and he can afford to be, since he was only rejected, not cheated upon. His cheer obviously is a mask: when he says she won”t ever find anyone as good as him, he is bathed in anguish, and not making an intrepid foray into the dark art of divination, his rebuff of “ifs and buts and maybes” notwithstanding. He”s not “bragging on myself, baby”; it”s just inconceivable that anyone can love her as tenderly and completely as he has. She”ll regret rejecting him. “Late in the midnight hour, baby “” you”re gonna miss my lovin”. When it”s cold outside “” you”re gonna miss my lovin”.” His whoa-whoas serve to underline the hopeful taunt. He”ll get over her in good time, and when she realises what she has lost, it”ll be too late. Take that, you wretched waster of good love!

Any rejected fool in love will know precisely what Lou is talking about. Twenty years ago, I was such a fool, suffering from unrequited love, a distressing case of frienditis, with Elizabeth (not necessarily her real name). One night at a club, You”ll Never Find… came on. While she was dancing with some random other, I whispered to my friend: “And I dedicate this song to Elizabeth.” Our mutual friend emphatically agreed with the sentiment. Well, Elizabeth just didn”t love me that way. The way she did love me was expressed by ramming a stake through my heart while cackling viciously like a particularly sinister witch in Macbeth as portrayed by an overacting diva as she told me that we should just be friends. I recently caught up with Elizabeth. She is happily married to a nice man who clearly adores her, and she him. So Lou proved to be less than prescient. But at the time, his anthem of defiant self-validation in which she, not he, was the big loser helped to shake the heavy dust of lovelorn despondency off my shoulders. And within only a year and a half, I was even over her”¦

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Whitesnake ““ Here I Go Again.mp3
Some men are accumulating experience at being dumped, much like our present friend as he goes again here. He won”t waste much time mourning the old relationship. In karaoke mode, he is proclaiming himself ready to be swept off his feet by the next knightess in shining lycra. And what woman of compassionate spirit would fail to give the man a chance when he philosophies: “I”m just another heart in need of rescue, waiting on love”s sweet charity. And I”m gonna hold on for the rest of my days, “cos I know what it means to walk along the lonely street of dreams.” Sure, the poetry is risible, but he probably will get laid tonight.

Garth Brooks ““ Friends In Low Places.mp3
Being dumped for reasons of economic class just isn”t right-on. But this is what has happened to Garth Brooks (or the song”s first-person protagonist). He confronts her for a final time on her wedding day. And as he might in the rejected script for a rom-com, Brooks trespasses on the nuptials in his cowboy boots (and perhaps a 12 gallon Stetson), intimidates the alarmed groom, and tells the bride that he”s down with her new life “” as turning up uninvited to an ex”s wedding invariably communicates. “I toasted you, said, “˜honey, we may be through”, but you”ll never hear me complain.” With bravado he celebrates having found refuge in drink among the flies at his local bar (here we imagine a joint where Achy Breaky Heart commands respect) populated by the cohort of low social expectations in the title. Brooks is, as we and his ex can guess, fooling himself. But at least he can get in a little dig as he makes his declaration of emotional independence: “Hey, I didn”t mean to cause a big scene. Just give me an hour and then”¦well, I”ll be as high as that ivory tower that you”re livin” in.” At which point his lowly-placed pals join in the rousing, presumably alcohol-fuelled chorus.

Prefab Sprout ““ When Love Breaks Down.mp3
The dumped karaoke song for the more introspective, analytical man. It isn”t even clear yet that he has been dumped, or that the relationship is over. But our hero is already making plans for that eventuality, which he seems to regard as virtually inevitable. So, what happens when love breaks down? Firstly, you stop the truth from hurting you. Secondly, you lie to yourself (as some of our friends in the preceding songs have done). Thirdly, “you join the wrecks who leave their hearts for easy sex”. Which is why we are presently singing karaoke songs about failed relationship in a bar populated with women in first place.

New York City ““ I”m Doing Fine Now.mp3
At the beginning of the post I flagged Ben Folds Five”s Song For The Dumped as the national anthem for the dumped, but the real song of recovery, of liberation from the cast irons of a broken heart, is this glorious soul number from 1973. The protagonist is at a more advanced stage of recovery than our notional karaokist, but projecting an aspirational confidence that happiness will return with a new love certainly would do no damage to the prospect of getting laid or, depending on your temperament, strike up a rewarding relationship with a very nice girl. The opening verse updates us comprehensively: “Remember the day you up and left? I nearly cried myself to death, oh yeah. And then I met someone else. She made me stop and get a-hold of myself.” And here comes the taunt: “Oh girl, I”m doin” fine now, without you, baby.” Repeated often enough to drive home the message: what the hell was I doing tormenting myself over you for?

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More songs about love

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And seeing as Nottingham”s Mr Sex set me a challenge, it was only fair that he should show his hand. Here then is his list of 10 male variations on the I Will Survive theme, with Mr Sex”s links to video files, to which I”ve added MP3s (Mediafire was playing up, so all but one are on DivShare). Incidentally, go to Todger Talk to read Mr Sex”s introduction to this cross-blog “” it”s much better than mine, and very funny. Besides, you will need to if you want to understand the Crazy woman reference.

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Black Sabbath – Iron Man.mp3
Video
This song might sound like a big metal robot getting ready to kick the world”s face in, but don”t be fooled ““ the sentiments are as close as it gets to the male version of IWS. Ignore the rammell about being turned to steel in the great magnetic field ““ that”s Ozzy trying to say that he”s been chucked by a bird without his mates twigging and taking the piss out of him. Perfectly male sentiments, too ““ while Gloria gets over her ex by finding someone better, Ozzy can only purge his feelings of rejection by pretending to be 100 feet tall and putting his metal Doc Martens through a building. Because we”ve all thought that, haven”t we, chaps?
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Isaac Hayes ““ By The Time I Get To Phoenix (full version).mp3
Video
And yes, it has to be the full Isaac Hayes version. While Glen Campbell sounds like a deadbeat Dad making a midnight flit with a barmaid half his age, Black Moses takes the time to explain that his ex was a right slapper who made him work triple-time so she could get her nails done, and only now does she realise how mint he is, ha ha. Problem is, he takes eleven minutes to lay this all out before he sings note number one, so you”re going to have to work your arse off to prevent a bum-rush by Crazy woman and a hail of empty WKD bottles. Wearing a dressing gown made of gold chains might help.
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Soft Cell – Say Hello, Wave Goodbye.mp3
Video
Marc Almond might not be the most aggressively masculine singer in this list (and the opening line forces you to state that a) you”ve had a bit of a roar and b) you knock about in a pub called The Pink Flamingo), but don”t let that put you off, because the glee with which he lays into his rubbish ex is a joy to behold. Bonus points for the subtle allusion that you”re after a “˜nice little housewife”, as the pub will be full of “˜em. I”d mention the David Gray version, but I”d rather not, as I”ve never heard it.
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Smokey Robinson & the Miracles – Who”s Gonna Take The Blame.mp3
Video
Poor old Smokey seems to have spent the vast majority of his life being pissed about by women, but he clocked what the girl in this song was all about ages ago; a window-smashing, abusive cow who needed getting shot of. Naturally, said harridan becomes a “˜woman of the street”. Smokey charitably alludes that he tried his best, but he”s bragging, really. Moral ““ you”re going to end up having sex for money in graveyards for dumping me, you rotten cow.
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Jimi Hendrix – Stone Free.mp3
Video
It was either this or Roadrunner by Junior Walker and the All-Stars, because the sentiments are the same: I”m single because I go round the country (possibly as a sales rep), I can”t be doing with women putting me in a plastic cage (my making me stay in and watch Strictly Come Dancing), and I”m a wild spirit who needs to live his life the way he needs to, in order to be spiritually fulfilled (by downloading porn torrents, watching back-to-back episodes of Top Gear, and playing Football Manager until 3am next to a stack of pizza boxes).

Cliff Richard – Devil Woman.mp3
Video
The standard get-out clause for any dumped male: She Was Mental. And Cliff (who has allegedly not had it off since rationing was stopped in the UK) is in full-on warning mode about his ex, who sounds a bit like that cat-woman in Conan The Barbarian who turns into a ball of flame after that romp in the cave, advising any other bloke sniffing around to LEG IT. Whilst subtly bragging that he”s been there, of course.

Lee Dorsey – Get Out My Life Woman.mp3
Video
As you”ve noticed, the tone is changing very quickly from “˜I will grow stronger without you” to “˜Oh, bollocks to you, then”. And this is probably the most eloquent, understated OBTYT I”ve ever come across.
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Jilted John ““ Jilted John.mp3
Video
The most joyous, cathartic, triumphant I”ve-been-dumped song ever. She is a slag. And he”s a creep. She is a tart. He”s very cheap. She is a slut. He thinks he”s tough. She is a bitch. He is a puff. (and Kid Jensen can shut his gob, the cheeky bastard).
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Wayne County and the Electric Chairs – Fuck Off.mp3
Video
Say no more. But be aware the singer in question ended up having a sex change.
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Cake – I Will Survive.mp3
Video
Sod it, why not? 99.99999% of songs don”t have genitals, and the ones that do can easily be operated on.

So, which song would you nominate?

Perfect Pop – Vol.2

March 26th, 2008 7 comments

Here is the second installment of Perfect Pop. For the criteria, look up the introduction to the first part of the series. One commenter rightly suggested the inclusion of The La’s, which I happily already had on my shortlist. Tell us which songs you think constitute perfect pop.

The Troggs – Wild Thing.mp3
A bit like “Louie Louie”, featured in the first part of this series, there is something gloriously shambolic going on here, understandably so if one knows that it was recorded in 20 minutes as an afterthought to a recording session. Singer Reg Presley not just sounds lewd, he is fucking the listener none too gently. Which is quite a contrast to later, milder Troggs hits (Love Is All Around; With A Girl Like You), but quite in keeping with the famous recording of the Troggs’ having an animated discussion in the studio.
Best bit: The ocarina solo (1:11)

The La’s – There She Goes.mp3
Had the Troggs been 20 years younger, they might well have sounded like the La’s (a name I’ve always hated). Allegedly about heroin, this song has a catchy tune and beautifully jangling guitars which surely helped influence dozens of US Indie groups in the ’90s. And it was only in the ’90s that this song, originally released in 1988, became a hit.
Best bit: After the slow bridge, “She calls my name” (1:46)

Roy Orbison – Only The Lonely.mp3
My mother had the single of this: it was the song she and her teenage sweetheart shared. It’s a good “our song” if your love is being split up by disapproving parents, I think (he was working class, my mother the rebellious princess of upper middle-class parents; you know the deal). On many songs, Orbison’s voice annoys me (hence my utter hatred for the Travelling Wilburys), on a few it is perfect. Only The Lonely, where he sounds a lot like Elvis at times, is one of those.
Best bit: Orbison hits the falsetto (2:08)

Pilot – Magic.mp3
Unjustly never a hit in Britain, this is one of the finest bubble gum pop songs of the ’70s. It’s so full of lovely little touches. Listen to the quirks of the guitar, the sporadic handclaps, the intermittent strings, the soft backing la-la-la-las. And then there is the rich chorus; it’s all rather brilliant.
Best bit: The handclaps during the guitar solo (2:16)

The Cure – In Between Days.mp3
The Cure have a surprising number of straight pop songs; easy to forget if one listens too much to the weird or depressing stuff Robert Smith and pals have produced. This, the first of two outstanding singles from 1985’s The Head On The Door, is a quick, bubbly burst of perfect pop. New Order might have taken notes about the value of brevity in pop.
Best bit: Bob laments over the outro: “Without you!” (2:35)

Van McCoy – The Hustle.mp3*
Tune! Disco guitars, strings, flute, horns, a killer bassline, while friendly ladies and commanding gentlemen invite us to do The Hustle. Do it!
Best bit: The guitar demands to be heard (1:02)

Plastic Bertrand – Ça Plane Pour Moi.mp3*
Belgian punk, thankfully in French and not Flemish. It’s all very audacious, probably borrowing less from the Sex Pistols and more from the Small Faces, whose Sha-la-la-la-lee Plastic Bertrand covered on his debut album) than Sex Pistols. I have never bothered to establish what the man is singing about. I don’t think I want to. As long as I can sing the title and the ou-ooou-eeooou, I’m happy.
Best bit: Whatever he sings after being the king of the divan (1:12)

Mel & Kim – Respectable.mp3
Take them or leave them, but the much reviled Stock Aitken Waterman hit factory of the ’80s created some respectable pop. This song found SAW more or less at a crossroad: their formula was starting to take hold (with Rick Astley’s Never Gonna Give You Up becoming a hit just six months later), but there remains enough of the Hi-NRG-cum-pop sound which propelled songs such as Dead Or Alive’s “You Spin Me Round” to pop classicdom. The “tay-tay-tay-tay” intro is an iconic ’80s moment. Sadly Mel Appleby died of cancerin 1990, just three years after Respectable (and the equally fine Showing Out).
Best bit: The House break (2:07)

ELO – Shine A Little Love.mp3
Jeff Lynne’s pop orchestra could get a little too prog, but 1979’s Discovery album was a jewel of great pop. I might as well have chosen Don’t Let Me Down (with its power chords and the bwoosh sound) or Confusion (with its lovely keyboard riff), but it always seems to me that Shine A Little Love tends to be overlooked. The urgent, swirling opening passage and the chorus with the strings and the woooo’s qualify this as a piece of perfect pop.
Best bit: “Ooh, ooh…ooh-ba-ooh-ba-ooh-ba” (1:37)

Georgie Fame – Yeh Yeh.mp3
2:47 minutes of pure joy. I think this is perfect kitchen pop: try not to dance to it while doing the dishes. Or while you sail a boat. The famous British pirate broadcaster Radio Caroline was launched because no other station wanted to play Yeh Yeh, on account of it sounding “too black”, according to its founder, Ronan O’Rahilly. Read the full story of that here.
Best bit: The slow build-up to the chorus: “We play a melody…” (0:49)

Soft Cell – Say Hello, Wave Goodbye.mp3
Oh man, that opening line: “Standing in the door of the Pink Flamingo, crying in the rain”! The lyrics, the lament of a gay man who can’t pull through a relationship because he is shackled in the closet, are incredibly sad, scored by a gorgeous melody, Marc Almond’s luscious vocals and some of the best synth pop lines we’re ever likely to hear. And, please, never listen to David Gray’s excruciatingly poor cover (or never do that again)!
Best bit: “We’re strangers meeting for the first time, okay? Just smile and say hello…” (3:40)

1981

July 16th, 2007 2 comments

And so on to 1981. Again, these are tunes that evoke that year “” a year of some fun, several foreign trips, a temporarily close friend named Epstein, shit teachers at a shit school, an idiot of a younger brother (who turned out to be very cool), and the teenage depression most 15-year-olds experience. These are not necessarily favourites songs, then or now.

John Lennon – Watching The Wheels.mp3
The murder of John Lennon ushered in my obsessive Beatles period. I had been a fan since I was 11 (and I listened to the Blue album the night before Lennon was shot), but now I bought every Beatles LP I didn’t yet have, including the unlistenable Live At The Hollywood Bowl and the US releases (Japanese and Greek pressings. Are there collectors for Greek Beatles LPs?). “Watching The Wheels” was my favourite track from Double Fantasy, and remains my favourite Lennon track. I’m still fascinated by Lennon, though he was by no means the saint after whom airports should be named. And “Imagine” is one dreadful anthem to hypocrisy.

Billy Joel – Summer, Highland Falls (live).mp3
My Beatles period was followed by a few weeks of intense Billy Joel obsession. For a while, in my deep teenage depression, I listened to Turnstiles, The Stranger, 52nd Street and especially the magnificent Songs In The Attic ad nauseam. I think Billy Joel is often underrated by the Good Taste Police, but these four albums are quite excellent. After 1983 at the latest Joel became an objectionable hack. But he also was my companion through unhappy times. So thanks, Bill.

Ideal – Blaue Augen.mp3
Those of my generation growing up in West-Germany will recall the impact of Die Neue Deutsche Welle, the new wave of German new wave. Before German music consisted of the ubiquitous Schlager herberts (usually with English stage names like Roy Black or Chris Roberts), hoary Kraut rockers doing their thing in English (the bloody Scorpions), chanson merchants (Konstantin Wecker) and the very occasional cool-ish acts (Udo Lindenberg, Marius Müller-Westernhagen, and obviously Kraftwerk). Suddenly there appeared a new sound for a young generation. Looking back, some of them were awful (Markus, Hubert Kah), but at the time even the rubbish acts spearheaded a revolution, with Berlin band Ideal at the vanguard. “Blaue Augen”, one of the first Neue Deutsche Welle hits, has an important place in music history. Without it, there might not have been “99 Luftballons”. Whether or not that was a welcome consequence, you decide.

Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark – Joan Of Arc.mp3
OMD were on the forefront of the post-punk New Wave. First there was “Enola Gay”, then came this song, with its synthethizered martial beat, and it was all quite wondrous. It was great seeing OMD singer Andy McCluskey doing his crazy flaying arms dance to this when I saw them in concert in London four years later.

Soft Cell – Say Hello, Wave Goodbye.mp3
To be honest, this might actually belong in early 1982; I’m not quite certain. It’s a song that, with the Human League’s “Don’t You Want Me” and Duran Duran’s “Girls On Film”, reminds me of the first club I frequented: the notorious Kaisersaal, where no nice parents wanted their nice children to go. Of course, my friend Mike and I and other pals used to go there, starting in late 1981. We U18s had to be out by 10pm; but from 7-10pm the club was cooking already, playing new wave, heavy metal and old rock (“Starman”, “Black Betty” etc). We felt all grown up, which leads me to…

Hazel O’Connor – Will You.mp3
Hazel O’Connor produced a shedload of terrible music, and a couple of decent ones: “All Grown Up”, “Eighth Day” and “Will You” is one. The latter in particular is an excellent song; the saxophone solo is quite lovely. It really needs to be covered by somebody more talented than Ms O’Connor. The song featured in Breaking Glass, a mess of a film.

Ricchi ̩ Povere РSara Perche Ti Amo.mp3
Italian hits were always big in Germany. Umberto Tozzi, Adriano Celentano, I Santo California, Giana Nannini, this lot… you couldn’t escape them. This song tastes of 1981. I’d like to say it reminds me of pizza places, but I might be making up an association here. The song does smell of pizza and beer and sunshine though. And of fun fairs

Earth, Wind & Fire – Let’s Groove.mp3
EWF were classified as disco back then, and disco was not really considered cool. Stuff like this was a “guilty pleasure”. Where I grew up, you wouldn’t admit to liking this stuff to your friends unless you fancied a bloody nose for being a bit of a Popper. Likewise, you wouldn’t admit to liking Roxy Music if you knew anyone with a leather jacket. Alas, my school was full of assholes with leather jackets.

And my favourite item of clothes at the time (oh, hell, EVER!), the FC Nantes jersey:

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