Educating Peter # 15

September 30, 2012

I must state from the outset that my responses here may be will definitely be affected by recent listening habits. I’m currently halfway through the entire Beatles discography (again), and I’ve just finished listening to Revolver.

So I’m afraid that at the moment anything Michael throws at me will be at a distinct disadvantage. (Note to self: Try not to compare Michael’s suggestion to “Taxman“, “Here, There And Everywhere“, “And Your Bird Can Sing” “She Said She Said“, “For No One“, “I’m Only Sleeping” etc etc.)

The lamb to the slaughter today is Fischer-Z‘s “The Perfect Day”.

Fischer-Z – “The Perfect Day” (1988)

Link

Up until “The Perfect Day”, this was the extent of my knowledge of Fischer-Z:

  1. The name of the band
  2. So Long

That’s it.

I’d like to thank Michael for opening my ears to another Fischer-Z song. I can now boast that I know double the amount of Fischer-Z songs than I did previously. Double!

But this preamble isn’t getting me listening to the song. Now to listen to the song…

0:00-0:11 – What was that? I’m going to have to listen to it again, but louder this time, so I can figure out what that girl’s disembodied voice is saying. Hang on…

The weird girl’s voice said “It’s a game everyone has to play”. Why did she say it? And why did the record’s producer decide to use so many digital effects on her voice? To me, that introduction was bizarre. And pointless. Now for the rest of the song.

0:11-0:18 – Oh dearie dearie me. This is not good. It was really not handy for me to listen to this after Revolver. The synthetic everything about this introduction is off-putting. (I was going to say “incredibly off-putting”, but it really isn’t that off-putting.) This is one of the reasons that I tend to run screaming from the music of the 1980s. Every single sound you hear is processed until it doesn’t sound real anymore. For example, the snare drum at 0:18 that leads into the verse doesn’t sound like a snare drum at all. It sounds like an explosion. I’m trying very hard not to launch into a rant about 1980s production methods, so I’ll focus on this particular song and keep listening to it. I don’t want to, but I will. (If Michael was kind enough to send it to me…)

0:18-0:37 – Oh this is horrible. What is that sound at 0:21½? It’s so unreal I can’t figure out what it is. I’m presuming a bank of synthesizers is creating most of the sounds I’m hearing. And one of those synthesizers goes subterranean at 0:25 which I found exceedingly non-pleasant, like a sudden dip on a rollercoaster. I sincerely hope I’m not going to spend the next few hours listening to this song and itemising everything about it that makes me go “Oh no”. I’ve just noticed the vocal melody – or lack of it. I can’t be too harsh here, because a song like “I’m Only Sleeping” (here we go with the comparisons) has an opening vocal melody that repeats one note. (It’s a John Lennon specialty. See “Help!“, “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds“, and “Julia” for prime examples).

0:37-0:56 – I think I just missed the chorus. Or this could be a double verse before the chorus. I guess if I listen long enough I’ll find out. (Note to self: Pay attention, Peter.)

It’s a double verse. Now that it’s getting embedded in my brain, it’s reminding me of something else – specifically, Ultravox’s “Dancing With Tears In My Eyes” Aaargh! Synth-pop! Aaargh! (“Dancing With Tears In My Eyes” is pretty catchy, though.)

0:56-1:22 – OK. This is the chorus. Wait a minute – I recognise this chorus. I’ve heard this song before. Unlike the dreadfulness of the previous 56 seconds, I’m enjoying this jaunty chorus. I’m also enjoying the “I Saw Her Standing There” bassline. (Note to self: Stop mentioning The Beatles.)

1:22-1:41 – Wow. That was a seamless transition from the chorus into the verse. I’ll go on record (tee hee) and say that it’s one of the best chorus/verse segues I’ve ever heard. However, spoiling my blissful reverie with that segue is the lyrics. Singing Chappy just sang “Gentle business man searching for his Peter Pan”. Maybe he’s not singing about what I think he’s singing about. (Er, clandestine meetings in the park after dark – if you know what I mean.) Maybe I’m completely wrong. It’s entirely possible that the “gentle business man” had a copy of the book, Peter Pan, but lost it, and is now looking for it somewhere. (“Searching for his Peter Pan“) The next line is “Nice house by the park, wrestles with an aching heart”. Oh-oh. I think I prefer to interpret that scenario as the gentle business man really missing his copy of the book. (Maybe it was annotated in his handwriting.)

1:41-2:07 – Next chorus. “Well she was just seventeen…”

2:07-2:14 – A fairly useless four bars of nothing in particular as we gear up for the middle eight.

2:14-2:26 – And a farly useless middle eight. To me it serves no purpose other than to be in the song because that’s where you put middle eights. (It’s always after the second chorus.) Incidentally, I think that’s a horrible guitar sound. (The producer did his or her best to make it sound as unlike a guitar as possible.)

2:26-2:33 – Another four bars, this time with singing (the last part of the verse), as we lead into…

2:33-2:45 – What is this? Is this another middle eight? The guitar is sounding even less like a guitar than it was earlier. (I didn’t think it was possible.) This part of the song is weird – with a capital W. From 2:39-2:45, some guy is singing low notes in a sort of “Doo Wop for the 80’s” style. Or is he trying to sing a kind of African chant? I don’t know. My mind is officially being blown here.

2:45-3:05 – We’re back in a verse. What just happened?

3:05-4:19 – Another chorus, repeated until it fades out. I still don’t know what happened.

I honestly don’t know what to say. That was weird.


Song of the day: Spitz – "Ai No Shirushi"

September 30, 2012

As you may know, I’m a huge fan of Japanese girl duo Puffy. I discovered – thanks to The 21-year-old Japanophile of the household (Hi, Celeste!) telling me – that one of Puffy’s songs, “Ai No Shirushi” (“Sign Of Love”), is actually a cover of a song by a very popular Japanese band from the 1990s.

The band is Spitz, and Celeste played me that song of theirs. I thought “That’s much better than the Puffy version! I gotta put it on the blog! Now!”

So here I am putting it on the blog:

Spitz – “Ai No Shirushi (“Sign Of Love”) (1999)

Link

And here’s Puffy’s version:

Puffy – “Ai No Shirushi (“Sign Of Love”) (1998)

Link


Musical coincidences # 310

September 29, 2012

Another Aerovons/Beatles coincidence? Why certainly…

The Aerovons – “With Her” (1969) (excerpt)

Link

The Beatles – “And I Love Her (1964) (excerpt)

Link

Here are the full versions:

The Aerovons – “With Her” (1969)

Link

The Beatles – “And I Love Her (1964)

Link


Song of the day: Charlie Played Cello – "Memories Collide"

September 29, 2012

I’ve mentioned this before, but there’s an American music PR company called La Famos that pesters me from time time about the artists they would like me to listen to. (I dare say they don’t just want me to listen to their artists – my guess is that they’d like everyone to listen to the musicians they promote.)

With my listening tastes in pop music leaning towards the power pop end of the spectrum, La Famos tend to send me music they think I might go for. In the past they sent me some of their techno stuff, dance stuff, punk stuff, and so on – but they don’t any more.

The most recent band La Famos told me about (thanks to Adrian – Hi, Adrian!) is Charlie Played Cello. They’ve released an EP called Red. I was taken slightly aback by the title, because it instantly reminded me of some heavy-duty prog rock that I love. Regardless, I tried not to think of King Crimson as I played Charlie Played Cello’s EP.

As I’ve done with other music that comes my way, I’ll talk about each song.

I’ll present you with the songs, but I’ll discreetly not present you with links to download ’em. (Putting downloadable links here would sort of defeat the purpose of the band wanting you to buy the tracks.)

1. “Memories Collide”


For me, this song is a case of good news / bad news. I’ll get the bad news out of the way first.

There are two things about this song that I’m not particularly keen on:

1. I’m not keen on the singer’s voice – it has a pinched quality that I don’t find very attractive. (I can’t really describe it accurately, but the closest I can get is to say that to me his voice sounds like a cross between Axl Rose and Ozzy Osbourne. They both sing as if the back of their throats are a little constricted.)

2. The verse has a chord progression that is currently overused (See:Four Chords“).

However…

I like the chorus (despite nicking the Big Country guitar sound). It’s where the song really takes off.

2. “Tired Of Playing Games”

This one grew on me, once I realised it was a compendium of 70’s rock clichés. (Or maybe that was unintentional. In that case, sorry about insulting your song, guys.) I enjoyed it.

3. “Run Away With Me”

I’ve never been a fan of galloping hi-hats, or 80’s-inspired songs, but I didn’t mind this too much. This was probably my least favourtie song on the EP. I must admit that I didn’t enjoy the half-speed middle eight. For me, whenever the drummer goes into half-tempo drumming in a song it’s usually a sign that the band are going for “epic”. Unfortunately for me, it just sounded half-speed. However, I loved the piano fills in the right channel at 3:39-3:40. Very ABBA. (Any song that reminds me of ABBA is a song that I’m thankful for.)

4. “Drifting Apart”

I thought this song was OK. But I’m still not keen on those vocals. (Note to self: Don’t get too critical, Peter. He can sing – you can’t.)

5. “Light Me On Fire It’s Midnight”

The title of this song reminded me of Canadian band Stars and their album Set Yourself On Fire. (Stars even used the phrase in the album’s opening song, “Your Ex-Lover Is Dead“. They got one of the band members’ dads to intone, Richard Burton-style, at the very beginning of the song: “When there’s nothing left to burn, you have to set yourself on fire.”)

The title also reminded me of 801’s magnificent “Baby’s On Fire“. Oh yeah.

But as for the Charlie Played Cello song, “Light Me On Fire It’s Midnight” (the song I’m actually supposed to be writing about)…

This is a guitar-playing-chk-chk-chk-chk-at-the-start power pop song, the kind that’s very popular in The World Of Power Pop. (There are hundreds of chk-chk-chk-chk songs out there in Power Pop Land, and it’s one of my favourite aspects of power pop. I’m a sucker for guitars playing muted chords.)

Incidentally, the main tune in the chorus (e.g., 0:54-0:57) reminded me of the main tune in the chorus of Marshall Crenshaw’s “One More Reason”.

I liked “Light Me On Fire It’s Midnight”, apart from the “Hey, let’s swear and take drugs!” lyrics. It’s a solid power pop song, and I thought it was a good song to finish the EP with. But…

I was disappointed with how the song – and, ultimately, the EP – finished. The band plays an unresolved chord at the end of the chorus, and it just fades out. It sounded incomplete to me. I would have preferred a “Bang!” kind of finish, like at the end of “Won’t Get Fooled Again”. (Now that’s how you finish a song.)

Overall, after all my carping (sorry, chaps) I will say that when I listened to the EP without making comments – in other words, just listening to it from start to finish – taken as a whole I found the EP enjoyable.

Believe it or not, I am looking forward to the upcoming full-length album from Charlie Played Cello. Bring it on, chaps!


Musical coincidences # 309

September 28, 2012

And the Aerovons/Beatles train keeps on a-rollin’…

This one’s a bit more subtle, but it’s still a case of The Aerovons reminding me of The Beatles. Grrr.

The Aerovons – “The Children” (1969) (excerpt)

Link

The Beatles – “The Fool On The Hill (1967) (excerpt)

Link

Here are the full versions:

The Aerovons – “The Children” (1969)

Link

The Beatles – “The Fool On The Hill (1967)

Link


Song of the day: The Scantharies – "The Start"

September 28, 2012

And there I was, thinking the art of instrumental pop was dead.

I received an email from Memphis Industries (I’m on their mailing list because one of their artists is my favourite active* band of the 21st century, Field Music).

The email mentioned a band called The Scantharies (no, I have no idea what “scantharies” means either) and a track from their upcoming self-titled debut album. The track is called “The Start”, and I like it a lot.

So I’m going to pester you with it.

The ScanthariesThe Start (2012)

The Scantharies describes that song as “alternative greek instrumental”. Fair enough. I guess that’s as good a description as any. I’d call it “groovy instrumental pop”.

By the way, that’s a free download.

The Scantharies at Memphis Industries
MySpace

(*My favourite inactive band of the 21st century is Sugarbomb. They made two albums and then split up. Grrr.)


Student-Teacher Songs

September 27, 2012

This is a collection of songs that emanated from something I mentioned in a post a while ago. At the time, I said that I was concerned at the amount of parentheses I use in my text (something I still do with alarming frequency).

My friend Michael emailed me to say that my concern reminded him of a song by American singer Dan Baird called “I Love You Period”.

(Sidenote: Dan Baird was the lead singer of the Georgia Satellites who had a huge hit with “Keep Your Hands To Yourself“, which just happened to be Michael’s suggestion for Educating Peter # 14 on this blog.)

Michael remembered the song had the word “parentheses” in it lyrics. (Now there’s a word you don’t see often in a song. Oops – there I go again. Sorry about that.)

Michael told me that “I Love You Period” is a song about a student who falls in love with his teacher, he writes her a letter, and she sends it back with corrections. (Tee hee.)

That got me thinking of other teacher-student/student-teacher songs. I thought of a couple, and Michael thought of a couple more. Then I thought of some more, and so did Michael. The next thing we knew, we had ourselves a list of student-teacher songs.

After looking at the list and sorting out what was suitable and what wasn’t (one of Michael’s suggestions was a dreadful song by a boy band, and one of my suggestions was way too serious in amongst the light-heartedness of the other songs), I settled on ten tunes to tickle your tummy earbuds.

And here they are:

Download (ZIP, 80 MB)

Details I couldn’t fit in the playlist:

1. Doris Day – “Teacher’s Pet (1958)

2. Lulu – “To Sir With Love (1967)

3. Elton John – “Teacher I Need You (1973)

4. ABBA – “When I Kissed The Teacher (1976)

5. Rockpile – “Teacher Teacher (1980)

6. The Police – “Don’t Stand So Close To Me (1980)

7. 38 Special – “Teacher, Teacher (1984)

8. Van Halen – “Hot For Teacher (1984)

9. Ruth McKenny – “She’s In Love With Her Teacher” (1987)
(I thought it was cute how the playlist shortened the song title to “She’s In Love With Her Tea”. It made me think of this.)

10. Dan Baird – “I Love You Period” (1991)

By the way, I’m happy to add to that list if you can think of any other songs that’d be suitable.

(Please note:Teach Your Children Well” is not suitable. In any way.)