Time for some blues.
Here’s Chain with “I’m Gonna Miss You Babe” (1973):
King’s X – “Lost In Germany” (1992)
I remember once reading about this band on a blog and got interested in them because they were described as a sort of prog metal band with Beatles harmonies. It piqued my interest so I grabbed Gretchen Goes To Nebraska (1989) (AllMusic reckons it’s their best album). I listened to it (three times) and was underwhelmed. The focus of each song seemed to be on the guitar part, with everything revolving around that (or, in other words, everything about the song was subservient to the guitar). I didn’t hear much in the way of Beatles harmonies – or memorable songs, for that matter. There were harmonies in the vocals, but nothing I’d call especially melodic. For me, the melodies just weren’t singable, hummable, or even memorable. And the song structures weren’t particularly memorable, either. The musicianship was good, and it was well recorded, but overall the album just didn’t float my boat. Unfortunately, it’s the same with “Lost In Germany”. Everything about it perfectly acceptable, but none of it sticks in my brain for any length of time. I can understand why King’s X have a cult following – they’re extremely good at what they do (heavy, slightly-proggy rock with multitracked vocals), but what they do isn’t really my bag. With everything I’ve heard from King’s X so far, I just wish it was more about the songs and less about the guitar. That said, I did like “Lost In Germany”‘s guitar part.
The Steve Miller Band – “Things I Told You” (1982)
Steve Miller goes New Wave. Ugh. Next.
Davy Jones – “Welcome To My Love” (1971)
Wikipedia tells me that “Welcome To My Love” was the B-side of Davy’s 1971 single “Rainy Jane”. It sounds to me like every cringe-inducing Las Vegas lounge song ever recorded, the kind of thing that’s been performed by every suit-wearing Las Vegas performer who ever lived. I honestly couldn’t tell when the record was made, because the song is so drenched with cheese and saccharine that I lost all sense of musical eras. For all I know, it could have been recorded in the Fifties, the Sixties, the Seventies, the Eighties, and the Nineties simultaneously. My first guess was the 1960s – which shows you how much I’ve been following the career of Davy Jones. Regardless of my poor Davy Jones-related guessing skills, “Welcome To My Love” tips just a little too far into chirpy cheeky chappy territory for my liking. It sounds like young Mr Jones is grinning uncontrollably throughout the entire song, and I find that unsettling.
The Shoes – “I Can’t Go Wrong” (1989)
The first thing I noticed was how dated the production sounded. Any band – even a skinny tie band like The Shoes – that tries sound up-to-date instantly makes them sound dated because they’re trapped in the sound of the time their track was recorded. Speaking of “dated”, the verses in “I Can’t Go Wrong” remind me of Dave Edmunds‘ “Girls Talk“. Apart from a possible similarity to “Girls Talk”, I can’t really think of anything in particular to say about “I Can’t Go Wrong” because I found it (warning: heresy alert), like all Shoes song I’ve heard, unremarkable. It comes, it goes, and as soon as it’s finished I don’t remember what I just heard. It’s a problem I have with most skinny ties bands, including The Shoes.
This track, although pleasantly cheesy, suffers from a distinct lack of Judith Durham, Athol Guy, Keith Potger, and Bruce Woodley. For me, this version is a big miss. (Although I did like the drumming. It was very enthusiastic in the fills.)
Even – “Show Me Some Discipline” (2005)
Here’s the original:
Sunnyboys – “Show Me Some Discipline” (1981)
I’ve already expressed my feelings about the Sunnyboys (I don’t like ’em). Because of this, you probably won’t be surprised that I think Even’s version is a vast improvement.
Here’s Mississippi with “Will I?” (1974):
If you listened to the song (and I hope you did), it may have occurred to you that it sounds a fair bit like early Little River Band.
For a few weeks some time ago, Tuesdays on this blog was reserved for hotshot instrumentalists. You may have been led to believe (by me) that I had officially retired Hotshot Instrumentalist Tuesday. I thought I had, too.
However, I just remembered a track by an Australian jazz-rock band that I really, really want to play you. (Really.)
The band is Crossfire, and they were active in the 80’s. They held the distinction of being fairly unloved in Australia for two reasons: jazz fans thought they were too rocky; and rock fans thought they were too jazzy. As for me, I thought they were just right. They had fabulous musicianship, and their tracks had actual tunes in them. In other words, they weren’t just showing off all the time – they were aware that people would want some music to listen to, not just instrumental prowess. The band was also fond of puns (as you’ll see by the name of today’s track).
Apart from everything mentioned in the previous paragraph, the main reason I’m playing you today’s track (no, it’s not to torture you) is to highlight Crossfire’s bass player, Phil Scorgie. As far as I’m concerned, Phil Scorgie is the best bass player in Australia*.
As for the track itself, there are two things in it that I want to point out:
1. The absolutely killer riff starting at 3:20. What a riff.
2. Phil Scorgie’s bass solo starting at 4:56. I loved it so much that I learned to play it. (It’s what bass players do.) All those harmonics are great to play.
Anyway, here’s Crossfire with “Youth In Asia” (1981). By the way, the track goes for 10 minutes, so if you’re not particularly interested in it you may want to go and make a cup of coffee (the track will still be going when you come back):
Crossfire – “Youth In Asia” (1981)
“Youth In Asia” appears on Crossfire’s 1981 album, Hysterical Rochords. (They love Spoonerisms, too.)
Non-essential sidenote involving Wikipedia Weirdness: Wikipedia has an article about jazz in Australia, and Crossfire are mentioned. (Yay!) However, the link for the Australian jazz band called Crossfire on that page is actually for a glam metal band from Israel called Crossfire. (Non-yay!)
Okey dokey. I think that I’m now finished with hotshot instrumentalists on Tuesdays. I can’t guarantee anything completely, but I’m pretty confident in saying that you probably won’t be bothered by fancy-pants musicians here from now on. Maybe.
Here are The Sunshine Ponies with “If Our Days Are Numbered” (2010):
The Sunshine Ponies is a labour of love for Scott Thurling (Hi, Scott!), the chap who runs Popboomerang Records. The band itself is actually a collection of Scott’s musician friends (Hi, Scott’s friends!) who wrote and performed the music to poems and lyrics supplied by Scott and his partner, Sarah (Hi, Sarah!).
The result is Mixtapes & Soundtracks, an album that’s only just been released (actually, a couple of days ago). “If Our Days Are Numbered” is one of the album’s 22 (!) tracks. You can listen to (and buy) the whole thing over at Bandcamp.