Musical coincidences # 32

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.

Song of the day: Mr. George – "So Much Love In My Heart"

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.)

Song of the day: Elvis Costello and The Attractions – "No Action"

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.

Song of the day: David Bowie – "The Laughing Gnome"

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.)

Song of the day: Magneto – "Shooting Star"

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):



Song of the day: Lori Balmer – "Here Before The Sun"

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.

Song of the day: The Wellingtons – "Come Undone"

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.)

Song of the day: The Master’s Apprentices – "5.10 Man"

October 25, 2009

Today’s song is by Australian rock gods The Masters Apprentices, a band renowned the land over. (When an Australian rock fan over the age of 30 hears the name “The Masters Apprentices”, the usual response is “Yeah!”). It’s their 1969 hit, “5.10 Man.” But before I let you listen to it, there are a few things I want to mention about both the band and the song…

Of all the bands sitting in the Pantheon of Australian rock history, I think The Master’s Apprentices are the weirdest. There are so many things that are odd about the band and their songs that I don’t quite know where to begin. But I’ll try. (I have a feeling I could write an entire thesis on the weirdness of this band, but I’ll limit the contents of this particular post to just the band’s name and today’s song. I’ll unleash my thoroughly unwarranted views on the band’s other songs as they appear on the blog in the future.)

OK, let’s start with the name. The band’s name varies depending on who you consult. Wikipedia calls them The Masters Apprentices. “So what? It’s a good name,” I hear you say. It is – but where’s the apostrophe? One of my pet linguistic hates is the inappropriate use of, or missing, apostrophes. It bothers me to see no apostrophes anywhere in this band’s name. To people who have better things to do with their time this will be no problem whatsover, but it bothers me. Are they (the band) apprentices of one master or a number of masters? In other words, are they The Master’s Apprentices or are they The Masters’ Apprentices? Or is Wikipedia messing with my mind?

This just occurred to me:

“The Masters Apprentices” (TME) = “The Missing Apostrophe” (TME)

Wikipedia’s definitely messing with my mind.

And so is Milesago. I love Milesago, as it’s probably the most authoritative online Australian rock encyclopedia, but they also call the band The Masters Apprentices. No apostrophe again. Grrr.

It seems that Wikipedia, Milesago, and plenty of others have all decided that the band’s name is The Masters Apprentices. Well, I decided to go to the source and consult the band itself.

“5.10 Man” was first released as a single in 1969 then appeared on the band’s second album, 1970’s Masterpiece. If you have a look at the album’s artwork, you can see how the band spelled their own name:

It’s “Master’s Apprentices”. Now, that makes sense.

Okay. I’m feeling much better now. (And I’ll try not to use the word “now” any more.)

Now, where was I? Oh yeah.

And another thing (I will get to the song eventually)…

The band’s many fans affectionately call the group The Masters. That’s wrong. The band aren’t The Masters. They’re The Apprentices. (It’s the apostrophe.)

OK, on to the song.

I find “5.10 Man” odd, odd, odd.

First, there’s the song’s introduction. It lasts eight seconds, and when I first heard it I was convinced the band was going to launch into “The Great Pretender.” Unfortunately, courtesy of that first hearing, every time I hear “5.10 Man”‘s introduction my brain automatically switches into “The Great Pretender” mode, ready for the wonderful voice of The Platters‘ lead singer Tony Williams accompanied by the fabulous harmonies from the rest of the group (I can hear it now: “O-ho, yes, I’m the great pretender / Oo-woo-oo-woo” etc). However, instead of “The Great Pretender,” “5.10 Man” settles into a standard boogie song. Well, a standard boogie song, that is, until the backing vocals appear…

Here’s the second weird thing about the song. Throughout the verses the backing vocals go “shoo-do-be-do-be-do-be-do” that go up and up and up, and I find them unsettling. I honestly don’t know if those voices are male or female. And I don’t know if they ought to be in a boogie song.

Third, there’s the minor-to-you-but-major-to-me bass note in the song’s middle eights. The bass guitar plays the wrong note at the end of each middle eight (at 1:12 and at 1:53), which I find distinctly unnerving (I was a bass player in a former life, so bass playing is precious to me – good bass playing even more so).

I will stop going on about this and actually let you listen to the song, but there are a couple more things I want to let you know about.

Fourth, there’s what seems to be a very clumsy edit at 2:06. The entire sound of the song changes right there. And it’s incredibly noticeable. If I didn’t know better (and I don’t), I’d say a completely different song was grafted on to the existing one.

And then…

After that clumsy edit comes, without a doubt, the weirdest part of the song: the band goes all 50’s a cappella on the listener (at 2:09), like they’re in a doo-wop group. I don’t know why.

And it’s around here that this song is starting to freak me out in a big way.

Anyway, as the doo-wop continues, the boogie music comes back in and then they all fade out.

OK. I think that’s it. I think I’ve said everything I wanted to say about the song.

By now, you may have the impression that I don’t like the song (I know I would), but that’s not the case. I like it, but…

It weirds me out, man.

And now, finally, the song. Hopefully you’ll still want to listen to it, despite my unhelpful nitpicking. Thanks for perservering.

Master’s Apprentices – “5.10 Man” (1969)


(Thanks go to Col who reminded me that I hadn’t posted anything at all about the Master’s Apprentices. As Col said: “What, no Master’s Apprentices? And this is supposed to be an Australian power pop blog?”)

Human Ingenuity + Music = Fun

October 24, 2009

Song of the day: Olivia Newton-John – "If Not For You"

October 24, 2009

Here’s a puzzle for you…

The singer: born in England, raised in Australia.
The songwriter: born and raised in America.
The recording: made in Australia.

So, is today’s song Australian?

As you ponder, please enjoy Olivia Newton-John and the song that launched her solo career, “If Not For You” (1971):

Or, if you prefer something a little more German…

As a bonus, here’s the other well-known version:

George Harrison – “If Not For You” (1970)

And here’s the original:

Bob Dylan – “If Not For You” (1970)