Song of the day: Jellyfish – "The King Is Half-Undressed"

January 31, 2012

There I was on Sunday reading the local Sunday newspaper (we still have newspapers in Australia), and I was gobsmacked to see Jellyfish‘s album, Bellybutton, get a mention. Ooo-wee!

To celebrate the weirdness of a South Australian newspaper mentioning the debut album of a defunct 1990s American band, here’s that band with a song from the album, the splendid “The King Is Half-Undressed” (or as I like to call it, “Ticket To Ride On Steroids”):

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

Link

Splendid.

The Sunday Mail, 29 January 2012

Musical coincidences # 172

January 31, 2012

I’m sure this is a coincidence. Maybe.

The Strangers – “Lady Scorpio” (1969) (beginning)

Link

The Hollies – “Magic Woman Touch” (1972) (beginning)

Link

Here are the full versions:

The Strangers – “Lady Scorpio” (1969)

Link

The Hollies – “Magic Woman Touch” (1972)

Link


Song of the day: Rod Kirkham – "I Can’t Get Sunday Out Of My Mind"

January 30, 2012

To make up for yesterday’s monumental post (yes, I know it was far too long), here’s something short ‘n’ sweet:

Rod Kirkham – “I Can’t Get Sunday Out Of My Mind (1973)

Link

Sorry about the sound quality of that MP3, but it’s the best I could find.

Update: Thanks to the fancy electronic footwork of two individuals – Thirsty Mac, who had it (Hi, Thirsty!) and Tom Mix, who ripped it in the first place (Hi, Tom!), I now have a version of the song that may be better than the one I had. (I’m not entirely sure it sounds “better”, but it does sound different.) Thanks enormously, chaps!

Rod Kirkham – “I Can’t Get Sunday Out Of My Mind (1973) (Tom Mix rip / Thirsty Mac donation)

Link

As a bonus here’s the almost-original version:

The Changing Scene – “I Can’t Get Sunday Out Of My Mind (1971)

Link

By the way, if you’re wondering which of the people in the photo* is Rod, it’s the chap in the turtle-neck sweater (second from left). And if you’re wondering who all those people are, they were members of TV show Young Talent Time, a program from the 70’s and 80’s that highlighted Australian young’uns singing and dancing on TV screens across the nation. It was hosted by the chap in the middle of the photo, Johnny Young. The show was a bit like American/Australian/UK Idol, full of young people bursting with enthusiasm and varying degrees of talent, but the program was incredibly wholesome and had none of the nastiness of the modern talent shows. (“You’re out!”) Wikipedia reckons Young Talent Time was like The Mickey Mouse Club. I never saw that, so I’ll have to take their word for it.

(Photo (1971), from left to right: Debbie Byrne; Rod Kirkham; Johnny Young; Jamie Redfern; Vikki Broughton; Philip Gould; and Jane Scali [front].)


Song of the day: Cirrone – "Uplands Park Road"

January 29, 2012

The chaps who make up the band Cirrone – brothers Alessandro, Bruno, and Mirko Cirrone (hi, chaps!) – sent me an email asking if I’d review their album, Uplands Park Road. Although I was more than happy to listen and comment (it’s music that’s new to me, so I’m always keen, keen, keen), I’m afraid that this post may have ended up being a case of “be careful what you wish for”.

I’ve listen to the album a few times and have jotted down some of my responses. Unfortunately for anyone reading this, I found a lot of things to comment on.

The Cover

Before I get to what matters (i.e., the music), I feel compelled to mention the appearance of the young gentlemen on the cover of the album. I’ll be the first to admit that, being a man, I may not be the best judge of male attractiveness, but I reckon Alessandro, Bruno, and Mirko all look like male model material. Have they ever been male models? If not, have they ever considered becoming male models?

The Album

Overall I found the album to be enjoyable, although nowhere near as enjoyable as other bloggers have found it. (People all over the Interwebs have raved about the album, putting it at, or near, the top of plenty of “best of” lists for the year.)

As I kept listening to the album, I wasn’t “getting into it”. I’ve listened to it 10 times now, and every time I’ve enjoyed it – but not loved it. For ages I couldn’t figure out why something so rooted in the early 1970’s musically didn’t engender all the responses I usually have when listening to something from the 70’s. (I’m a sucker for early-70’s power pop.)

But then I finally figured out why I didn’t go gaga nutso bananas over the album:

It’s a pastiche.

I usually don’t mind it at all when an artist or band pays homage to music of an earlier time, and enjoy the recreation of an era, but for some reason when I’m listening to Uplands Park Road I’m fully aware that this was recorded in 2011, not 1973. I know it’s an anachronism. As a result, to me this album feels more ersatz than authentic. Maybe “ersatz” is too harsh a word. I’ll put it another way: I’ll say that the music is more an approximation than the real thing.

Having typed that, I do want to point out that as an album of music sounding like early-70’s power pop it’s expertly written and recorded, and impeccably executed.

I also want to point out two more things: the more I listen to the album the more I enjoy it; and as I keep listening to it I’m noticing how much effort went into the making of it.

The Songs

1. “Here Is My Song”

I’ve never been a fan of album-opening tracks that are low-key. I much prefer “bang!” songs to start an album. This song, to me, meanders along rather pleasantly. It’s nice, but that’s all I can think of to describe it: nice. I like the mandolin (from 1:27 onward).

2. “Uplands Park Road”

I love the riff that starts this song. Now this is how I like an album to start. For me, the riff was the best part of the song. I liked most of it, but some parts I wasn’t especially enamoured of. (The chords used in the chorus for instance. A bit too ordinary for my liking.) This song reminded me of a host of other power poppers. For example, The middle 8 of this song (starting at 1:16) reminds me very much of Emitt Rhodes – or maybe Big Star. And the bit after the middle 8 (1:47 to 1:50) leading into the cowbell-driven guitar solo reminds me of one of the drum breaks in Cheap Trick‘s version of “California Man“. This to be precise:

Cirrone – “Uplands Park Road (2011) (excerpt 1)

Link

Cheap Trick – “California Man (1978) (excerpt)

Link
(Full song)

Oh, and speaking of Big Star: in “Uplands Park Road”, the bridge/refrain/whatever-it’s-called after the guitar solo (from 2:17) reminded me a lot of Big Star – specifically a chord progression in “Feel”:

Cirrone – “Uplands Park Road (2011) (excerpt 2)

Link

Big Star – “Feel” (1972) (excerpt from later in the song)

Link
(Full song)

3. “I Still Remember”

A good old foot stomper. (Glam, baby!)

4. “Let The Wind Blow”

A slightly country-boogie-ish song, courtesy of the beat and the slide guitar. After the eighth listen, it’sNice vocal harmonies. Actually, this album is full of extremely nice vocal harmonies.

5. “All I Know”

A nice mid-tempo pop-rocker. With extremely nice vocal harmonies.

By the way, there’s a riff in this song that reminds me a bit of the main riff in Kiss‘ “Love Her All I Can”:

Cirrone – “All I Know (2011) (excerpt 1)

Link

Kiss – “Love Her All I Can” (1975) (excerpt)

Link
(Full song)

Also by the way – and this doesn’t have much to do with anything – a guitar solo plays some stuff in the song and ends on a note that sets my teeth on edge. It’s not a bad note or anything, it’s just that the song is in the key of B flat major, and for me the note the guitar plays should be D instead of the D flat it stays on when the song ends. I keep wanting that note to bend up a semitone from D flat to D. I really, really want it to do that. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, here’s the end of the song. Now try to imagine me sitting here wishing that last solo guitar note would go up just a bit to make it all nice and in the key of B flat major:

Cirrone – “All I Know (2011) (excerpt 2)

Link

I know it’s nothing major (pun definitely not intended), but I wanted to let you know about it because it’s bothering me. (Note to self: Stop being bothered by it, Peter.)

Sorry about sidetracking you with those two things (the riff and the guitar note). I’ll try not to keep noticing little things like that. They’ll just make this post way too long.

Right. Next track.

6. “Brand New Life”

I absolutely adore the chorus of this song. That’s a great chorus. I think this album is worth buying just for the chorus. As for the whole song: I reckon it would be what critics call “a long-lost Badfinger track”. I’d call it a Hudson Brothers track. If I was to offer a criticism (here we go again), I’d say it goes on a bit too long. But apart from that, I like this song. Especially that chorus. What a chorus.

7. “How Does It Feel”

A fun bit o’ brass to start this staccato-beat song. And I like how the fun brass is used sparingly in other parts of the song. I’m glad the lads didn’t go berserk and think to themselves “Hey, we’ve got this great brass sound. Let’s put it everywhere in the song. Brass! Yeah!”

8. “Your Eyes Are Wide Open”

Nice chorus. I like the tambourine* that propels the chorus along. (*I think that’s a tambourine.)

9. “Just Tell Me”

I don’t quite know why, but this song reminds me of The Red Button‘s She’s About To Cross My Mind (not any particular song – all of it). But back to this song: I like the “la-la-las”. Extremely trivial observation: I like the two guitars going “oo-wee-oo” at 1:38. Cute.

10. “You’re Not Alone”

I like the off-beat rhythm in the section where they sing “I know you will find your own way…” (from 0:46). I thought it spiced up the song quite nicely. Howevever, I wasn’t especially keen on the Hendrix-esque guitar playing (e.g., 0:41 to 0:46). I’d be quite happy if I never heard Hendrix-esque guitar playing in any more songs. By the way, this song employs the chord progression that I mentioned a couple of weeks ago. I like the abrupt ending.

11. “Here We Will Go”

I just noticed I’m spending way too much time on this post. I’ll try to hurry it along by not waffling much more than I have already. Great vocal harmonies. And I love the triplets in the fade-out (3:05 to 3:07). When I say “triplets” I don’t mean the three brothers in the band. Sorry, I’m waffling again. Next song.

12. “In The Sun”

A pleasant little “Julia“-ish acoustic number. However, it does include the lyric “since you’ve gone, I can’t go on”. I don’t know why, but I tend to have an aversion to that particular line, in whatever song it appears. (Maybe it stems from childhood. As psychologists like to say: “It all stems from childhood!”)

13. “Running Time”

This reminds me so much of another song, but I can’t remember what it is. Grrr.

The End Of The Post

If you’ve made it to the end of this post, you’ll now know why I’m no good at reviewing albums. I ramble, waffle, and prattle. Unlike proper music reviewers, I can’t just say in a few words what I think is good/bad/meh about an album and sum it all up with a delicious turn of phrase.

I’m relieved that I’ve finally finished this post. And I’d say you’re relieved, too. I’ve spent way too much time on it, and you’ve spent way too much time reading it. Thanks for your patience and perservance.

Buy Uplands Park Road at CD Baby
Cirrone on Bandcamp
Cirrone on MySpace
Cirrone on Facebook


Marshall Crenshaw – "For Her Love"

January 28, 2012

I know that some readers of this blog are not particularly keen on the music of Marshall Crenshaw, but I’m in the mood for one of my favourite songwriters of the 80’s (i.e., Marshall Crenshaw).

At the risk of displeasing a few people…

Marshall Crenshaw – “For Her Love” (1983)

Link

Sorry about that, non-Marshall fans. But when you’re in the mood, you’re in the mood.

“For Her Love” appeared on Marshall’s second album, Field Day. Because the album’s bombastic production (by Steve Lillywhite) was not universally loved, someone decided a remix of some of its songs was in order.

As a bonus (for people who like Mr. Crenshaw’s music), here’s the remix of “For Her Love” (not by Steve Lillywhite):

Marshall Crenshaw – “For Her Love” (remix) (1984)

Link


Song of the day: Splendid – "I’m No Better"

January 27, 2012

For the last few days I’ve had a song stuck in my brain. It’s called “Come Clean” by an Australian duo called Splendid. I love this song (it’s probably my favourite song about infidelity), and I’d love to play it to you today so I can share my adoration for this bittersweet tale of an affair, but it’s already been Song of the day.

For me, one of the attractions of “Come Clean” is the voice of Angie Hart (see above). To console myself I’ll just have to play you another Splendid song.

Take it away, Angie…

Splendid – “I’m No Better” (1999)

Link

Splendid on MySpace
Angie Hart on MySpace
Angie Hart on Facebook
Angie Hart on Twitter
Angie Hart on Bandcamp
Angie Hart blog
I Hart Angie


Song of the day: Mary Hopkin – "Goodbye"

January 26, 2012

My first love:

Mary Hopkin – “Goodbye (1969)

Link

I was only eight, but you never forget your first love…

* * *

Incidentally, you probably know that Paul McCartney wrote “Goodbye” for Mary.

In case you’re interested, here’s his demo:

Paul McCartney – “Goodbye (demo for Mary Hopkin) (1969)

Link