Song of the day: Uncanny X-Men – "Time Goes So Fast"

February 28, 2011

And now a quick trip back to the 80’s:

Uncanny X-Men – “Time Goes So Fast” (1983)

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Actually, there were two Uncanny X-Men tracks in contention for today’s song, and I had trouble deciding which one to play you. The other contender was their follow-up single “Everybody Wants To Work”, which nowadays I think might be catchier than “Time Goes So Fast” – but “Time” was the only Uncanny X-Men single I ever bought (mainly because of the chorus), so it’s a sentimental favourite.

To save myself all this mental anguish, I might as well play you the other track and let you decide which you prefer:

Uncanny X-Men – “Everybody Wants To Work” (1984)

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Musical coincidences # 87

February 28, 2011

I’ve had another look at Musical coincidence #86 (the one before this one) and noticed how incredibly messy it is, with bits of songs and full songs all over the place. As far as I’m concerned, that post had waaaaay too many DivShare thingies in it for you to click on.

Right. From now on I’ll present you with the songs in question and just tell you where the coincidences are, rather than try and persuade you to wade through a whole lot of chopped-up snippets of tracks. Hopefully, it’ll simplify things. (It’ll certainly save me time, not having to fire up ye olde audio editing program and nibble away at tracks every time I want to point out a coincidence.)

The Big However:
However… if you want me to keep using the snippet method for coincidences, let me know and I’ll happily do it again. (Using an audio editing program doesn’t take that long.)

Today is easy. It doesn’t involve 72,316 songs like the last coincidence – just two (or three, depending on how you look at it).

So, I’ll play you the full songs and politely ask you to listen with fevered intensity to the opening guitar riff of each one.

And away we go…

Update:
Due to public demand for a return to coincidence snippets (one person asked for it, and that’s enough for me), here are the coincidences:

Mott The Hoople – “All The Young Dudes (1972) (intro)

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Be-Bop Deluxe – “Jet Silver And The Dolls Of Venus” (1974) (intro)

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And now the full versions:

Mott The Hoople – “All The Young Dudes (1972)

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Be-Bop Deluxe – “Jet Silver And The Dolls Of Venus” (1974)

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Now, because David Bowie wrote and produced “All The Young Dudes” – and because I’m a Bowie fan – I can’t let this post go without you hearing a few extra tracks featuring Mr. B:

Mott The Hoople (with David Bowie) – “All The Young Dudes” (1972)

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David Bowie – “All The Young Dudes (1972)

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David Bowie – “All The Young Dudes (live) (1974)

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And here’s Mott The Hoople with a live version of the song:

Mott The Hoople – “All The Young Dudes (live) (1974)

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If you managed to listen to all those versions of “All The Young Dudes”, you’re now probably thoroughly sick of it and don’t want to hear it again for at least another ten years. Sorry about that.


Song of the day: Grand Atlantic – "Poison To The Vine"

February 27, 2011

Here’s Grand Atlantic’s latest song which will appear on their forthcoming, as-yet unnamed*, album:

Grand Atlantic – “Poison To The Vine (2011)

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Incidentally, I nicked that song from Grand Atlantic’s song giveaway page after I read about it at Absolute PowerPop. Thanks, dudes.

Grand Atlantic official website
Grand Atlantic on MySpace
Grand Atlantic on Facebook
Grand Atlantic on Twitter
Grand Atlantic on YouTube

(*In the MP3 tag of the song, the album is listed as “TBA” which, I presume, means “to be announced”. Hey, guys: why not just call your album TBA?)


Song of the day: Zoot – "I’m Only Sleeping"

February 26, 2011

Australian band Zoot were responsible for one of my all-time favourite Beatles cover versions, a heavy-metal riffarama version of “Eleanor Rigby”. Today’s song is another radical reworking of a Beatles track. (Apparently, Zoot also pestered “Hello Goodbye” and played it live but it was never recorded.)

Here are Zoot with their effort at revamping “I’m Only Sleeping”, recorded live in the studio for Australian TV music program GTK – I don’t think it’s all that great, but I think it’s worth hearing:

Zoot – “I’m Only Sleeping (1969)

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And in case you need reminding, or if you’ve never… no, I don’t think that’s even possible. Anyway, here’s the original:

The Beatles – “I’m Only Sleeping (1966)

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Musical coincidences # 86

February 26, 2011

Today’s coincidence is a two-for-one deal – i.e., we have two coincidences in the one song. One coincidence involves a guitar riff and the other a drum beat.

The song in question is “I Can’t Stand It” by the Lolas, and it appears on their 2001 album Silver Dollar Sunday. (I’ll tell you why I mentioned that a little later in this post.)

COINCIDENCE 1: The Guitar Riff

There’s a guitar riff in the chorus of “I Can’t Stand It”:

Lolas – “I Can’t Stand It” (2001) (riff in the chorus)

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As far as I’m concerned, that sounds sufficiently similar to:

The Beatles – “It Won’t Be Long (1963) (riff in the chorus)

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COINCIDENCE 2: The Drum Beat

The drum beat that the Lolas decided to use in “I Can’t Stand It”‘s middle eight is pretty noticeable:

Lolas – “I Can’t Stand It” (2001) (drum beat in the middle eight)

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And it reminds me a lot of:

Jellyfish – “The King Is Half-Undressed” (1990) (drum beat)

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Which also reminds me of:

Even – “Seconds” (2001) (drum beat in the bit between the verses)

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As most Beatles nuts know, those drum beats – and any others that sound remotely like them – all stem from:

The Beatles – “Ticket To Ride (1965) (Ringo’s splendid drum beat)

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BONUS COINCIDENCE (involving the Lolas)

Now that we have those two coincidences out of the way, here’s another one involving the Lolas. “I Can’t Wait” is another track from Silver Dollar Sunday. (That’s why I mentioned the album earlier.) Now, before you start thinking that the Lolas did nothing but rewrite bits of other people’s songs for their own nefarious purposes, I’m pleased to tell you that in the album’s 14 songs I found only three coincidences.

Anyway, here’s the melody in the first line of the verse of “I Can’t Go Wrong”:

Lolas – “I Can’t Go Wrong” (2001) (melody in the verse)

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For me, all I need to do is change the key of that melody and I can hear this:

Dave Edmunds – “Girls Talk” (1979) (melody in the verse)

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Here are the full versions of everything on display today:

Lolas – “I Can’t Stand It” (2001)

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Lolas – “I Can’t Go Wrong” (2001)

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Even – “Seconds” (2001)

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Jellyfish – “The King Is Half-Undressed” (1990)

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Dave Edmunds – “Girls Talk” (1979)

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The Beatles – “Ticket To Ride (1965)

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The Beatles – “It Won’t Be Long (1963)

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By the way, Even’s “Seconds” was Song of the day on a lovely sunny day in 2009.


Frank’s Faves on Fridays

February 25, 2011

Gleaming Spires – “Are You Ready For The Sex Girls” (1982)

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I’d never heard of a band called Gleaming Spires before. I was hoping that the name had something to do with architecture, but considering the name of this song, it may mean something a whole lot ruder (“gleaming spires“?). Another thing I found slightly bothersome was the possibly dubious grammar of the song’s title. Did the author of the song forget a comma? Is the singer asking some girls “Are you ready for the sex, girls?” or is the singer asking about “sex girls” (whatever they are)? And where’s the question mark? (Note to self: How about I just listen to song and find out for myself instead of typing time-wasting questions?) Apart from those completely pointless ruminations, I must admit that I find this song almost totally dreadful. It doesn’t work for me as satire, irony, kitsch, or even sarcasm. Anything. I don’t even like the tunes much. I’m going to listen to this three times (I have to), but my brain has already decided that after one listen it’s not going to like the next two spins. Update: I’ve now listened to it three times. I didn’t think it was possible, but I liked it even less after the third listen. The only phrase I can think of to describe my experience of this song is: “I endured it.” I’m looking forward to never hearing this song ever again.

Arlo Guthrie – “Deportees (1974)

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I don’t know why, but I didn’t enjoy this particular track anywhere near as much as I thought I was going to – even with Emmylou Harris‘ stellar backing vocals. I normally enjoy a bit of folk, but found this a tad annoying. I’m usually on board with social commentary in song, but I found this a little too earnest, or worthy. I have a vague feeling that I’m not supposed to criticise the lyrics because of the subject matter, but I didn’t respond to them with any of the sense of outrage and injustice that was probably intended. Maybe I just wasn’t in the mood for it. Maybe a part of me wanted to hear it sung by the song’s original author, Arlo’s father Woody. Now, that would have made it a real dustbowl song. But as it is, “Deportees” didn’t do much for me at all. However, it’s entirely possible that I’ll be in a folk mood next week. Or not.

The Hollies – “Step Inside” (1967)

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I’m going to get this criticism of The Hollies out of the way as quickly as possible: I’ve always – and I mean always – found The Hollies recordings to be too trebly. Or, putting it another way: every Hollies recording I’ve ever heard has sounded thin and high to me. (Recording engineers put it even more succinctly: “Too much top end, mate!”). OK. That’s my sole criticism of The Hollies. Everything else about The Hollies? Marvellous. I wanted to get the unpleasantness out of the way quickly, to minimise any potential vitriol (it’s sometimes perilous to criticise bands cherished by power pop fans who tend to have very strong views about their musical heroes). Now I can focus on the song itself. Being a casual fan of The Hollies (I’m nowhere near as rabid about them as a lot of other power pop fans are), I haven’t heard “Step Inside” before. I’m glad you chose this particular song, because I’m enjoying it enormously. Even on the first listen I discovered plenty of things in it that I can yak about. Unfortunately, those things aren’t particularly interesting, mainly because they’re predominantly about the production, not about the tunes or the singing or the overall performance or the song structure – you know, the stuff that matters. But I feel compelled to let you know about the things I found interesting because… well, because I found them interesting. To make this as un-boring as possible for you, I’ll try to itemise them briefly:

  1. I love the bass guitar sound. (Sorry about the bass-player talk coming up.) The Hollies’ bass player, Bernie Calvert, is playing with a pick and playing up close to the neck of his bass, giving it a unique, hollowed-out kind of sound. In the lead-up to the first chorus – from 0:49 to 0:58 – Bernie plays so close to the neck that the bass sound almost disappears completely (especially between 0:49 and 0:51). However, by the time he gets to that chorus (at 0:58), he’s moved his picking hand further away from the neck so that the bass sound comes back stronger. As a bass player, I find all of this intriguing. And I fully realise that absolutely nobody else will.
  2. There’s a wonderful stereo spread in the song up until the middle eight. Then it gets weird. At 1:12 the bass and drums both travel to the left channel and stay there for the entire middle eight. And also at 1:12, as the bass and drums are moving over to the left, there’s a tom-tom in the right channel. (Maybe it’s complaining about the rest of the drums being moved to the left channel.) But… just before the end of the middle eight (at 1:25), the stereo picture is suddenly restored to its original state (i.e., how it was when the song started). But then, puzzingly, during the guitar solo it reverts to the middle eight’s stereo picture (i.e., bass and drums in the left channel). Huh?
  3. I don’t know about you, but the sound of the guitar in the guitar solo reminds me an awful lot of George Harrison (i.e., Bearded Guru George, not Moptop George). To me, that’s the sound of a guitar being fed through a Leslie speaker. (George came to prefer that guitar sound in The Beatles’ latter days. You can hear the George Harrison Leslie Sound here.)
  4. During the guitar solo, and while the drums (and bass guitar) are still in the left channel, there’s a crash cymbal in the right channel at the start of every bar (except for the second bar of the solo, at 1:35 – I don’t know why the drummer, Bobby Elliott, didn’t hit the cymbal at the start of that bar). And at the end of the guitar solo, with the drums still in the left channel, there’s a snare drum fill in the right channel (1:47-1:49). Unusual.
  5. Going back to the middle eight momentarily, there’s an electric guitar playing in the background. That electric guitar part reminds me of the main guitar part in “Long Cool Woman In A Black Dress“. You can hear it more clearly in the second middle eight (from 1:49 to 2:00).
  6. The last chorus changes key by going up a semitone (at 2:32). The effect is like a burst of sunshine. Lovely.

Sorry if you found yourself yawning through most of that, but I found the song fascinating for its production. Oh, yeah – and I liked the song, too.

The Mascots – “Words Enough To Tell You” (1966)

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Before I had a listen to this song, I went a-roamin’ the Internet for some information. The Internet told me that The Mascots were a Swedish band from the 1960’s. I’m very interested in hearing this song. The Internet also told me this:

The song “Words Enough To Tell You” was written for a special occasion. The magazine Bildjournalen held in 1965 a competition for the best pop song. The entries (in addition to the Mascots, the Shanes and Merrymen were in the competition) were released on a flexi-record and included in the newspaper like a supplement. The readers voted, and the Mascots won the competition! “Words. . .” was released on vinyl a year later, but it was a bit late by then!

I love the Internet.

Now to listen to the song. (Note to self: press “play”, Peter.) Okey dokey. I’m now listening to The Mascots’ “Words Enough To Tell You” and I’m thinking of one word, and that word is “excellent”. It’s yet another example of how the British Invasion affected pretty much every country on Earth that had musical groups in it. I love how these Swedish chaps sing the word “rather” (at 0:09) with the decidedly upper-class English intonation instead of the standard American-English. In other words, they sing “rah-ther” with an elongated “rahhhh” as in a cheerleader’s “rah-rah” instead of the short, straight, up-and-down “ra” as in “rapscallion”. I love the pronunciation because: a) you very rarely hear it in songs; and b) that’s the way I talk. (Although I’m not an upper-class Englishman, I say “fah-ther”, “fah-ster”, “mah-ster”, “pah-sta” etc.) Although I’m enjoying this song a great deal, I think that as far as non-British British Invasion bands go, The Mascots aren’t a patch on Uruguay’s Los Shakers. (Los Shakers had fabulous Beatles songs with great tunes.) But as for this song by The Mascots, I’m loving it. It’s a wonderfully easy-going, acoustic-guitar-based, mid-tempo Beatles song not by The Beatles. Yum.

Bonus instrumental:

The Bar-Kays – “Soul Finger (1967)

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This track, to me, is almost The Ultimate Soul Compendium. It perfectly encapsulates 60’s Soul because I think it sounds like every 60’s Soul song ever recorded crammed into one two-and-a-half-minute song. A riff from somewhere, a rhythm from somewhere else, brass playing from somewhere else again, you name it – if it appeared in a Soul song in the 60’s, I reckon it ended up in “Soul Finger”. Mighty good. If any young person out there says, “Yeah, I’ve heard about Soul music – what does it sound like?”, I recommend you simply put on “Soul Finger”. Easy.


Song of the day: The Executives – "Bad Reputation"

February 25, 2011

OK folks, after the triumvirate (or is that triptych?) of international tracks we’re back to the Antipodean ditties.

Today it’s a groovy sing-along by The Executives (I think that’s a great name for a band – why aren’t there lots of bands called The Executives?).

It’s time to get yer la-la’s out*:

The Executives – “Bad Reputation” (1967)

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It’s just occurred to me that yesterday’s song was a “la-la” song, too. (“I La La La Love You” by American rocker Pat Travers). Hmm. I’ve decided what song I can play you tomorrow, and you can rest assured that it doesn’t involve any la-la’s at all.

(*With apologies to Rolling Stones fans everywhere.)