Song of the day: Children Collide – "Prussian Blue"

July 31, 2012

Today’s song is a slightly unusual one for me to post because it’s the kind of modern rock song I ordinarily don’t like.

It has all the hallmarks of a modern rock song – everything’s drenched in reverb to make it sound “epic”, most of the song hovers around one note – and they’re usually the kinds of things that don’t interest me much, due to modern rock songs displaying an overwhelming seriousness and a sense of self-importance.

However, I enjoy this particular song despite all of those things – mainly because it has some decent tunes in it, and because the staying-on-one-note trick helps make it feel hypnotic rather than repetitive.

See what you think:

Children Collide – “Prussian Blue” (2012)

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Song of the day: Splinter – "Costafine Town"

July 30, 2012

Regular blog-commenting dude side3 (Hi, sidey!) recently mentioned on my Song of the day post featuring “Junior’s Farm” that it was the second single he ever bought. Splendid.

That reminded me of what I think is the second single my brother bought (Guten tag, Bruder!):

Splinter – “Costafine Town” (1974)

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It was either my brother or me who bought that. But I’m pretty sure it was him.

I definitely remember the first single he bought, but I won’t play it here because I think it might make him cringe if I mention it in public.

Beatles-related Trivia: George Harrison took Splinter under his wing, signing them to his Dark Horse Records label, producing “Costafine Town” (and the album it appeared on), and also playing on it (under the pseudonym of Hari Georgeson).

I think George liked Splinter.

Update: I’ve just discovered that my fellow Australian blogger Stonefish (Hi, Stoneamatic!) posted “Costafine Town” last year. Excellent.


Educating Peter # 6

July 29, 2012

For this instalment of Educating Peter, Michael has unleashed one of the, er, less useful (i.e., more useless) aspects of the music of the 1980s: the “extended mix”.

I suppose the extended mix of any song back then was an attempt to keep people on the dance floor in discos. (Note to self: Find out if the places people go to dance are still called “discos”.)

Michael has supplied me with the extended mix of “Together In Electric Dreams“, a track from the movie Electric Dreams. I don’t remember much at all about the movie (didn’t it involve a robot or something?), but I do remember two songs associated with it: “Together In Electric Dreams” and another song (that I’ll get to later, because I much prefer it to the first one). I remember “Together In Electric Dreams” because it was a huge hit here in the land of Australians (and, I dare say, in plenty of other countries as well). But I remember the other song even more because I really liked it, and it was by far my favourite part of the movie. I’ll play it at the end of this post.

Exactly why Michael chose an extra-long version of this inoffensive pop song is beyond me. I’ve now listened to it (with ghastly comments below), and I couldn’t hear anything unique or especially creative in this long version that would cause Michael to think to himself, “I must play Peter an extended mix to really highlight what the 80s were all about. I know, I’ll play him a really long version of that Electric Dreams song.” Of all the songs in the 1980s that were given the extrafication treatment – making a song much longer than it has a right to be – I’m at a loss as to why Michael decided to highlight this particular one.

Giorgio Moroder with Philip Oakey – “Together In Electric Dreams” (extended) (1985)

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The mercifully shorter video

When this track started, it instantly reminded me of Yello‘s “Oh Yeah” – but I’m afraid that every song with that kind of beat (i.e., 80’s techno) reminds me of Yello’s “Oh Yeah”:

Yello – “Oh Yeah (1985) (excerpt)

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But back to “Together In Electric Dreams”.

As soon as the song settled into its extra-long intro I was thinking to myself, “This is all very pleasant – but not doing anything in particular”. Then I spotted something that made me go “Well, waddya know?”:

The chord progression from 0:52 to 0:58 (which is used in the first-half of the verse) is the same chord progression used in approximately 114.27% of modern pop songs. (Give or take 14.27%.)

Shortly after that is one of the weirdest uses of echo on backing vocals I’ve ever heard. It occurs from 1:05 to 1:07, and it’s a bit of effects overkill. It also messes with my mind, because I listened to this song on headphones and the vocal echo bounced around in my head in all directions, disorienting me. It’s weird.

Then there’s that ultra-familiar chord progression again.

At 1:36 Phil Oakey starts singing.

It’s here that I’d like to skip a paragraph, because it’d give me a chance to go straight past the part where I moan about Phil’s singing and you wouldn’t have to read my uncharitable words. But this paragraph is here, so I’m morally bound to let you know what I think of Phil Oakey’s singing. I think Phil Oakey’s singing is dreadful. I’d never noticed it before (I guess I didn’t pay much attention to Phil Oakey’s voice in the 80s), but now that I’m paying attention to it I’m hearing a dreary, dreary voice. Sorry, Phil. Can I go to the next paragraph please?

Thank you.

OK. As the song progresses there’s not really much to report. I like the background vocals singing “Love never ends” from 2:06 to 2:10. (Incidentally, I had no idea that’s what they were singing until I looked at the lyrics.) I like how the melody of that is accompanied by some electronic sound (a synthesizer set to “glockenspiel”?) playing the same thing.

I really must apologise here, because I’m going to criticise Phil Oakey’s vocals again. Phil sings the word “dreams” at 2:20 and draws it out (it’s the end of the chorus, so you have to get dramatic), but he ends the word at 2:25, and the way he sings “…ms” sounds incredibly prosaic. It’s like a warrior atop a mountain, exclaiming in a deep and booming voice, “I am Grondorth, and I have come to claim this land!”, followed immediately, and much more quietly, with “If you don’t mind…”

This song is at the halfway mark, and I just remembered that it originally had a middle eight that I didn’t like at all. Because this extended version is cruising along so pleasantly, I’m wondering if that ghastly middle eight is going to make an appearance and spoil the musical flow. (Note to self: You’ll find out soon enough, Peter.)

Oh no, Phil started singing again. (When Phil sings “eyes” from 3:04 to 3:05 it sounds like he strained something.)

Production quirk: there are two bass notes (one at 3:25 and one at 3:26) that are louder than all the other bass notes in the song. I don’t know why.

Phil sings “together in electric dreeeeeeeeeams” at 3:33, and when he sings that elongated (and flat) “dreams” I know it’s the cue for the dreaded middle eight (3:36 to 4:07 – so it does make an appearance in the song). Maybe it’s not as bad as I remembered, but I’m not enjoying it.

The middle eight just finished, and now it’s a horrible, horrible instrumental section involving techno beats. It sounds like someone’s gone berserk with a drum machine. Yuck.

That instrumental section lasted only a minute (well, 59 seconds to be precise), but it felt much longer. And I can’t believe I listened to all of it. Although it added a few synthesizer sounds as it went along, it was still horrible.

The final choruses come along at 5:07, and that lets me know that the song’s going to finish soon. (Yay!) Phil stops singing at 5:42 (thank you, Phil) and we’re left with the backing vocalists singing “Love never ends” over and over again until the song fades out. It’s very nice.

And the song finishes. Unfortunately, there wasn’t any little interesting thing as the song faded out. In some songs you get to hear unusual things, but not here. Ah well.

Now that we have that nonsense out of the way (I mean, really – six-and-a-half minutes of a harmless pop song?), I want to play you the song I remember most from the movie. It’s “Electric Dreams” by P. P. Arnold. I really liked it then, and listening to it now I still think it’s a mighty decent song:

P. P. Arnold – “Electric Dreams” (1984)

Link


Song of the day: Justin Kline – "I’m Not What You Need"

July 29, 2012

I’m fully aware that I played you a song by power poppin’ poppy popper Justin Kline only a couple of weeks ago, but Justin let me know that he has another new song available, y’all.

(He didn’t actually use the word “y’all”. As far as I know, Justin’s never uttered the word “y’all”.)

Justin’s a very nice young man, so I’m happy to play you this newer song as well.

Take it away, Justin:

Justin Kline – “I’m Not What You Need (2012)

As with the other song from all those (two) weeks ago, “I’m Not What You Need” will appear on Justin’s forthcoming album Cabin Fever Songs.

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Song of the day: Robert Palmer – "Johnny And Mary"

July 28, 2012

I’ve remembered* another song from the 1980s that I like a lot:

Robert Palmer – “Johnny And Mary (1980)

Link

I love the mood of “Johnny And Mary”. But my favourite part of the song, and it’s the bit that hooked me in when I first heard it, is the synthesizer bass that plays one note a few times in the song. (The first one appears at 1:17.) It’s nice and deep, and it goes “oooooooommmmmmm”. I love it.

That synthesizer bass note reminds me of another synthesizer bass note that I adore. It’s the descending one in Heart‘s “Magic Man“:

Heart – “Magic Man (1976) (excerpt)

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That always sounds great, no matter what audio equipment you’re playing it on.

But back to “Johnny And Mary”…

Well, that’s two songs in a row from the 80s that I’ve played on the blog. (I’m starting to feel like an Australian FM radio station. Eccch.)

Don’t worry – I won’t fill the rest of this week with songs from the 80s. I couldn’t do that to myself. I like variety. Variety!

Before you go, here’s the full version of “Magic Man”:

Heart – “Magic Man (1976)

Link

(*Thanks to my friend Steve for reminding me about “Johnny And Mary”. I’d completely forgotten about it in the three intervening decades until now.)


Musical coincidences # 279

July 27, 2012

It’s tiny riff time:

Rick James – “Super Freak (1981) (excerpt)

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Falco – “Der Kommissar (1981) (excerpt)

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After The Fire – “Der Kommissar (1982) (excerpt)

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What I want to know is this: considering Rick’s and Falco’s songs both appeared in 1981, which came first?

I wondered this for a while (approximately three seconds) so I went a-searchin’ on the Internets for some answers. Thanks to one B.C. Schermer on From Yahoo! Answers (Hi, B.C.!), I learned this:

“Neither James nor Falco knew about each other; the note timing is purely coincidence, and the actual pitch sequence separates after barely one measure. Falco, an Austrian, wrote “Der Komissar” as the overture of an SFD-TV crime drama that aired in Germany during the 1980’s; the After The Fire cover version was an extremely rough translation.”

Here are the full versions:

Falco – “Der Kommissar (1981)

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After The Fire – “Der Kommissar (1982)

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Self-Promotion Alert: “Der Kommissar” is also Song of the day.


Song of the day: Falco – "Der Kommissar"

July 27, 2012

I’ve mentioned this before (and probably used the same words you’re about to read), but some of my friends have been pestering me with songs from the 1980s in an appreciated* attempt to open my ears to the possible wonders of that musical decade.

I’ve responded in the past by playing a couple of 80s song I do like (amongst the thousands I don’t).

Well, I’ve just remembered another one:

Falco – “Der Kommissar (1981)

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And the English language version:

After The Fire – “Der Kommissar (1982)

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Self-Promotion Alert: “Der Kommissar” is also involved in a Musical coincidence.

(*I really do appreciate your attempts to enlighten my dim view of the music of the 1980s. Thanks for the efforts, folks.)