October 31, 2009
Here’s a well-known Elvis Costello song:
Elvis Costello And The Attractions – “Pump It Up“ (1978)
“Pump It Up” appeared on Costello’s second album, This Year’s Model (1978), an album I’ve already raved about.
The song may or may not be about, shall we say, onanistic endeavours, but one thing is for certain: the main riff has been stolen by at least two other artists that I know of – and none-too-subtly, either.
The first is “Wild, Wild West” by The Escape Club, a long-forgotten band who, in the late 80’s, were being heralded as the Next Big Thing in rock:
The Escape Club – “Wild, Wild West“ (1988)
But the most blatant rip-off of “Pump It Up” is a song called “Voodoo Child” by English/Australian techno riff-nicking outfit Rogue Traders:
Rogue Traders – “Voodoo Child“ (2005)
I know that the Rogue Traders fully acknowledged the lift (and gave Costello a co-writing credit), but that doesn’t make it alright. Some things are just plain unacceptable.
October 31, 2009
Here’s Mr. George with the nicely catchy “So Much Love In My Heart“:
Mr. George – “So Much Love In My Heart“ (1973)
By the way, Mr. George was a band, not a person. I must admit that I have very, very hazy memories of this song when it was released in 1973 (well, I was 12 at the time), but apparently it charted fairly well: it reached #22 in Sydney, #23 in Brisbane, and #26 in my hometown, Adelaide.
“So Much Love” was written by the estimable Ted Mulry, and it has a chorus that’s effortless in its ability to stick in your head for an entire day, week, or even a month – depending on how catchy you find the chorus. It’s certainly stuck in my head. (One more time: “So much love in my heart…”)
As far as I can tell – which in this case is not very far at all – Mr. George released only two singles in 1973 and only one album, On The Bandwagon in 1974. (Believe it or not, there was a vinyl copy of the album over at OZtion which sold recently for $8. Bargain!)
Here’s that other single:
Mr. George – “Lazy Susan” (1973)
(Thanks yet again to Stonefish for the suggestion. I now want to borrow his entire record collection.)
October 30, 2009
Here’s the non-Australian Elvis Costello and The Attractions with “No Action” (1978):
“No Action” is the opening track of Costello’s second album, the still-astonishing This Year’s Model, an album that, for me, hasn’t dated one bit since it was first released in 1978. It’s still near the top of my list of all-time favourite power-pop albums. A lot of people probably don’t think of Elvis Costello as a power pop artist at all, and never have. Most people think of him as rock’s original Mr. Bitter, or as Punk‘s First Man of Letters due to his exceptional wordplay (during the punk period, most artists around him were simply yelling “Destroy!”). Although he later dabbled in other genres such as country and lounge, I don’t think Elvis’ music has ever been considered power pop. Yet I think This Year’s Model is a Grade-A power pop album – it’s full of great tunes and has boundless energy. As far as I’m concerned, that‘s power pop.
Here’s track 2 on the album:
Elvis Costello and The Attractions – “This Year’s Girl” (1978)
And here’s track 9:
Elvis Costello and The Attractions – “Lip Service” (1978)
Now, listen to those tracks and tell me that’s not power pop.
October 29, 2009
Here’s David Bowie with “The Laughing Gnome” (1967):
“The Laughing Gnome” is one of my all-time favourite tracks that would fall into the category of “Songs The Artist Wished They’d Never Recorded.” I’m sure there are a lot of performers – I reckon you could probably think of a few – who have recorded things early in their careers that they’d regretted having ever presented to the world. I don’t know how Mr Bowie feels about “The Laughing Gnome” nowadays, but I find his effort at a novelty song hilarious, charming, and bizarre all at the same time. It may seem an odd, odd song, but considering that “The Laughing Gnome” came from the man who would soon become a folkie*, then a heavy-metaller*, then an androgynous alien*, then a skeleton in a white suit* etc etc, I guess it makes sense that DB would start his solo career as a vaudevillian. He’s been pretty much everything else.
Still, “The Laughing Gnome” is pretty unique in the David Bowie canon. And I love it.
(*Now, that’s what I call variety.)
October 28, 2009
Today is a two-for-one deal.
If you’re a Big Star fan, here’s Melbourne band Magneto with the Big Star-esque “Shooting Star” (2006):
However, if you’re a Cheap Trick fan, here’s Melbourne band Magneto with the Cheap Trick-esque “Let It Go” (2006):
October 27, 2009
Here’s Lori Balmer with the gorgeous “Here Before The Sun” (1972):
The song appears on Tea and Sympathy (2007), a wonderful collection of forgotten baroque pop gems.
October 26, 2009
I was watching Rage on the weekend and was shocked – and stunned – to see The Wellingtons pop up. With a new video.
That’s all the reason I need to pester you with yet another song by The Wellingtons.
So, for your viewing (and listening) pleasure, here are The Wellingtons with their brand new video for “Come Undone” (2008):
Power pop lives! On Australian television!
Here’s the audio:
The Wellingtons – “Come Undone” (2008)
“Come Undone” appears on The Wellingtons’ third album, Heading North For The Winter (2008)*, Australia’s best power pop album since I don’t know when.**
(*2008. Hmmm. Where’s the new album, guys?)
(**Actually, I do know when: since Neon‘s self-titled debut from 2005.)