Frank’s Faves on Fridays

December 31, 2010

Grapefruit – “Round Going Round” (1968)

Fabulous. As you know, I have a very soft spot for Sunshine/Baroque Pop, and this fits the bill quite nicely. Loved it. I’ve never heard this (or the group) before, and thanks to you I am extremely glad to have made its acquaintance. I may have a bit of trouble getting to your other suggestions this week, because I’m playing this track constantly (four times so far and counting). I’m now going to have to find as much of Grapefruit’s discography as possible. By the way, I just found out (here) that Grapefruit was led by George Alexander who is the older brother of AC/DC’s Angus and Malcolm Young. There are so many things I don’t know about music.

Billy Nicholls – “Would You Believe?” (1968)

Hmm. I’m enjoying this, but it sounds to me like a clash of a few different musical styles. It starts off as Sunshine Pop but then drifts into Psychedelica. Sort of. Because it also sounds like that English style of slightly Vaudevillian, slightly rural, slightly Kinks-ian, majorly Swinging Sixties pop. I have a couple of rhetorical questions (that you don’t have to answer)… What’s with the banjo and tuba (at 1:41)? And what’s with those weird background vocals? It sounds like the Small FacesSteve Marriott wandered into the studio to shout random things. Update: Wikipedia tells me that it is indeed Steve Marriott yelling whatever it is he’s yelling in the background. What an odd song. But I like it. Sort of.

Eagles – “I Don’t Want To Hear Any More” (2007)

I thought I was terribly, terribly, terribly familiar with pretty much all of the Eagles’ output*, but the title of this song doesn’t look familiar at all. Eek. I’m now listening to it. Coming after the first two tracks (Grapefruit and Billy Nicholls), this sounds horribly slick and soulless. And haven’t the Eagles used that same drum beat for every song they’ve recorded from The Long Run onward? Boy oh boy, this song is smooth. I must admit that it’s exceedingly pleasant while it’s playing, but I don’t know if that’s a good thing because it’s basically washing over me. It’s aural wallpaper. This song has all the trademarks of a reformed Eagles track: the spare instrumentation; the background harmonies in the choruses; the clean, clean guitar sound (it’s so clean that it sounds as if antiseptic has been applied to it); the steady drum beat etc. I can’t believe that I have so much to say about a track that’s doing nothing for me. I guess all I’m trying to say is that this song sounds exactly like a reformed Eagles track, and how you feel about it depends on how you feel about the reformed Eagles. Postscript: According to the tag of the MP3 you sent me, “I Don’t Want To Hear Any More” was written by Paul Carrack. I’m mildly dismayed, because Paul Carrack is currently my favourite English male singer (what a voice!), and this song is a big heap of nothing for me. I suppose I prefer Paul Carrack’s singing to his writing (although I adore Paul’s “Don’t Shed A Tear” – I think that’s a great song.)

(*For people who loathe the Eagles and all they stand for – e.g., soft rock, being pretend Wild West outlaws, not being The Flying Burrito Brothers etc – I thought I’d use the word “output” instead of “discography”, because people who loathe the Eagles would think that what they produced was “output”, not music.)

Little Big Town – “Don’t Waste My Time” (2002)

I don’t know why, but while this country-pop song is playing it’s reminding me of Martina McBride‘s “I Love You” which is probably my favourite country-pop song. I love “I Love You”. I think it’s a great song – and it’s immaculately produced. Everything about it is superb. But you’re not interested in my views of a Martina McBride song. Much like that Eagles track, “Don’t Waste My Time” doesn’t do an awful lot for me. It starts, it plays, and three minutes later it finishes. Apart from that Martina McBride track, this kind of country-pop is not really my scene, baby. It’s all very well played, sung, and produced, but I don’t feel anything (e.g., joy, horror, elation, disappointment, ecstasy, disbelief etc) when I’m listening to it. Maybe I don’t have a country-pop “on” switch in my brain. (I know I don’t have one for hip-hop.)

[A non-Frank suggestion]
Martina McBride – “I Love You (1999)


Bonus instrumental:

Walter Wanderley – “Summer Samba (1966)

Ah, so that’s what this track’s called. I’ve known this piece of music for years and years but never knew its name. I don’t know how or why, but it’s always been a part of my musical subconscious. However, I’ve only ever been familiar with the first minute. I’m now hearing the rest of it, and I gotta say one thing: groovy! That’s some pretty nifty organ playing there. I can’t think of a bad thing to say about this track. (Not that I’d want to – it’s too groovy for criticism.) Viva Walter Wanderley and his splendid name!

Much obliged, Frank. Despite those Eagles and Little Big Town tracks engendering absolutely no emotional response in me whatsoever, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this week’s suggestions. Especially Walter Wanderley’s instrumental – and his splendid name.

Musical coincidences # 64

December 31, 2010

Today’s coincidence is quick ‘n’ easy.

First, here’s Barry Gibb singing his heart out with the words “it’s only words…”:

Bee Gees – “Words (1968) (excerpt)


Now here’s Tommy James singing his heart out with the words “I’m only sugar…”:

Tommy James and the Shondells – “Sugar On Sunday” (1969) (excerpt)


Yes, indeedy.

Here are the full versions:

Bee Gees – “Words (1968)


Tommy James and the Shondells – “Sugar On Sunday” (1969)


(Thanks to Stonefish for inadvertently helping me discover the coincidence courtesy of his recent Tommy James post.)

Song of the day: Skyhooks – "Party To End All Parties"

December 31, 2010

Here’s a song that’s eminently suitable for the end of the year:

Skyhooks – “Party To End All Parties” (1977)


See you next year!

Song of the day: Neon – "Hit Me Again"

December 30, 2010

This may appear to be double-dipping, but I’ve already played you today’s song (shhh – don’t tell anyone). However, it wasn’t Song of the day in that post (that’s my rationalisation, and I’m sticking to it), so today I’d like to bring it front and centre, and highlight it in as big a way as I can (like making it Song of the day).

Here’s my second-favourite Australian power pop band with a riff-tastic track that demands to be played loudly as possible:

Neon – “Hit Me Again” (2005)


“Hit Me Again” appears on Neon’s 2005 self-titled album, a long-player I’ve gone on and on about in the past. I guess that I don’t need to go on and on about it anymore. (Unless you’re a masochist and want to hear me rave about a particular album ad nauseum.)

Speaking of volume, I believe that the entire album benefits from being played as loudly as humanly possible. (And it might sound better if you can play it louder than that.) It’s one of those albums that, for me, can’t be played loud enough. You probably have one of those kinds of albums sitting at home, too.

Neon on MySpace

Song of the day: Skeleton Staff – "I’ll Be Your Adam"

December 29, 2010

Here’s Sydney band Skeleton Staff with just one of the spiffy little ditties on their splendid new album Solipsism:

Skeleton Staff – “I’ll Be Your Adam” (2010)

Solipsism is an album that I’ve been liking a lot since I first heard it a couple of weeks ago. You might not like it as much as I do (that would be because you’re not me), but you never know – you might like it even more. (Then again, you might like it a whole lot less. Chacun son goût.)

Actually, I like the album so much that I’m in the mood to play you another track from it:

Skeleton Staff – “Compromise” (2010)

If you’re thinking that I may have chosen only the two best songs on the album, I’m happy to say that they’re not. You can hear for yourself over at Bandcamp. Or here:

Buy Solipsism at Bandcamp
Skeleton Staff on Facebook
Skeleton Staff on MySpace

Technical difficulties – please stand by

December 28, 2010

I have absolutely no idea why, but DivShare has decided to be a bit flakey today (and was yesterday, too), which means that links on this here blog aren’t terribly available at the moment.

I can’t tell you when DivShare will make all their links usable again, but I’m guessing that someone, somewhere is working feverishly to correct the problem. In the meantime, may I suggest you:

a) read a book
b) spend time with the family
c) feed some porpoises
d) climb the tallest bush you can find
e) paint your lawn

Song of the day: The Tarney/Spencer Band – "No Time To Lose"

December 28, 2010

I’m afraid that today I’m going to engage in a bit of shameless name-dropping.

When I was growing up, I lived on the same street two houses away from a member of The Tarney/Spencer Band – The Alan Tarney part to be precise.

Alan and his family had emigrated from England to South Australia when he was kiddy and moved in to the same street as us. As he was (and still is, presumably) 16 years older than me, we never played together. Compounding the I-didn’t-get-to-play-with-Alan situation was his decision to move back to England in 1969 to follow his dream of making it in the music industry there. A couple of years earlier, Alan had met fellow South Australian Trevor Spencer in a local band called Johnny Broome and The Handels (and I thought that my puns were groan-worthy). After playing around town and eventually not getting very very far, Alan and Trevor both decided on the move to England. When they got there, they formed a band, recorded a couple of things that did nothing on the charts, and ended up as session musicians. They did some session work for The Shadows, and Alan joined that band as their bass player in 1973. (He stayed with them until 1977.) In 1975 Alan and Trevor formed a duo called Tarney and Spencer which became The Tarney/Spencer Band (when they signed with A&M).

The Tarney/Spencer Band (don’t worry – you will get to hear a song today) recorded three albums, none of which set the charts ablaze, so the band/partnership sort of just fizzled out. When the band went pffft, Alan and Trevor went their separate ways, with Trevor becoming a producer. Alan stayed in England as a session dude, playing guitar and/or bass, and ended up doing session work for a gaggle of English artists (which makes sense, considering that’s where he was). The most well-known is Cliff Richard, and Alan was a rather large contributing factor in resurrecting Cliff’s ailing career in the late 1970’s. Alan wrote (and played on) Cliff’s comeback single “We Don’t Talk Anymore” (1979). Incidentally, ex-next-door-neighbour Alan also co-wrote, arranged, produced, and played on Cliff’s “Wired For Sound” (1981), a song I adore.

I don’t know how interested you are in any of this. (You may just want to hear today’s song and don’t care about the people who made it.)

As far as I know, Alan’s still playing and producing English musicians.

Oh, by the way: in addition to English musicians, Alan has also produced the occasional international artiste. The ex-next-door-neighbour-I-never-played-with produced a-ha‘s “Take On Me“. (Yes, really.) And Alan produced a-ha’s other big hit, “The Sun Always Shines On T.V.” as well.

So, with all of that information out of way, here’s today’s song:

The Tarney/Spencer Band – “No Time To Lose” (1979)

Video (Embedding disabled. Grrr.)

“No Time To Lose” appears on the band’s third (and last) album, Run For Your Life (1979).

I had never noticed it until now, but that song reminds me of (Rumours-era) Fleetwood Mac.

As a bonus, here’s another song from Run For Your Life that sounds even more like Fleetwood Mac – and I like it:

The Tarney/Spencer Band – “Won’tcha Tell Me” (1979)


I’ll try to make tomorrow’s post a little shorter.

Song of the day: Pastel Vespa – "Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again"

December 27, 2010

Loyal* reader of this blog, pb669 (Hi, pb669!), commented on a Song of the day from last year. The song was “Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again” by Australian band The Angels.

Pb669 mentioned that Andy Scott’s Sweet also recorded a version of “Am I Ever…”. That piqued my interest (I didn’t know that anybody had recorded a cover version of it), so I went a-lookin’ for – and found – the Andy Scott’s Sweet version. I had a listen but didn’t like it very much.

However, whilst looking for that version I came across another one. It’s by Pastel Vespa, a musical concept from Australia. It’s fronted by Melbourne chanteuse Fiona Thorn, and the concept is similar to Australian singer Frank Bennett or American group Big Daddy, whereby popular songs are given a “makeover” and turned into something they were never intended to be. With Frank Bennett, they’re given the Swing treatment (there’s an example in one of my previous posts), and with Big Daddy they become 50’s ditties (there’s an example over at the PowerPop blog). In the case of Pastel Vespa it’s continental Lounge music. Yummy.

Before I play you Pastel Vespa’s version of “Am I Ever…”, I’d like to refresh your memory with the original:

The Angels  – “Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again” (1976):


And now for the radically reworked version:

Pastel Vespa – “Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again” (2004)



By the way, that song appears on Pastel Vespa’s second album, Takin’ The Back Roads (2004). In addition to “Am I Ever…”, the album also features Easy-Listening modifications of tracks such as Prince‘s “When Doves Cry“, New Order‘s “Blue Monday“, Billy Idol‘s “White Wedding“, and Metallica‘s “Enter Sandman“. Mighty good. And mighty smoooooth. You can preview the album here.

Pastel Vespa on MySpace
For US readers: Buy Takin’ The Back Roads at Darla Records
For European readers (that’s continental, baby): Buy Takin’ The Back Roads at Siesta

(*That may not actually be true. It’s entirely possible that pb669, after reading that post about The Angels song, had a quick look around the rest of the blog and thought “Yuck. These other posts are awful. Right, I’ve had enough of this” and zoomed away from the blog as fast as possible. If that’s the case, then I say “Fair enough. You can’t please everyone.”)

Song of the day: Blondie – "(I’m Always Touched By Your) Presence Dear"

December 26, 2010

In honour of Christmas:

Blondie – “(I’m Always Touched By Your) Presence, Dear (1978)


Song of the day: RubberBand – "Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree"

December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas, y’all!

RubberBand – “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree” (1994)


RubberBand – “White Christmas” (1994)


RubberBand – “Silent Night” (1994)


(All of the above songs appear on Xmas! The Beatmas)