Musical coincidences # 324

October 31, 2012

My friend Zolland (Well hello Zolly!) told me about this coincidence.

After hearing it, I came to the conclusion that I didn’t want to bandy about such ugly terms like “blatant theft”, or “shameless pilfering”, or “you’ve gotta be kidding me” in describing this coincidence. For someone with as delicate a sensibility as Zolland, that might be a bit too much.

So I thought I’d use the term that Zolland used when he told me about it. He called it “noticeable”.

This coincidence is very noticeable.

The Five Americans – “Black Is White – Day Is Night (1967) (excerpt)

The Beatles – “A Day In The Life (1967) (excerpt)

Oh, by the way…

I reckon you could also add this to the mix:

Billy Joe Royal – “Hush (1967) (excerpt)

Here are the full versions:

The Five Americans – “Black Is White – Day Is Night (1967)

The Beatles – “A Day In The Life (1967)

Billy Joe Royal – “Hush (1967)


Song of the day: Motel Beds – "Dumb Gold"

October 31, 2012

I received an email from a band called Motel Beds letting me know they have a new song available for listenin’ to. Unfortunately, my email program decided the message was spam so it was promptly thrown into the Junk E-mail folder. (Maybe it was the band name that caused consternation. The phrase “motel beds” does sound a little suspicious…)

Before I deleted my unwanted emails I spotted the little critter (I do like to know what I’m throwing out before it disappears in case there’s something – like a message from a band – that shouldn’t be deleted), and told my email program in no uncertain terms that any message from “Motel Beds” is fine. (I sincerely hope there are salacious emails out there containing the phrase “motel beds”.)

So, with the Motel Beds email sitting comfortably where it was supposed to be (Message to my email program: “Stop that”), I followed the link it had to their latest song:

I like it.

I like the song’s combination of Fifties chord progressions and power-poppin’ poppiness. More please.

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Musical coincidences # 323

October 30, 2012

My friend Michael (Hi, Michael!) spotted this one:

Train – “50 Ways To Say Goodbye (2012) (excerpt)

Sarah Brightman & Michael Crawford – “The Phantom Of The Opera (1986) (excerpt)

Apparently, Michael isn’t the only one to notice that little coincidence. Wikipedia says:

The melody of the song has also been compared with “The Phantom of the Opera” theme from the musical of the same name by Andrew Lloyd Webber.[4][5][6]

However, Wikipedia didn’t mention a coincidence involving the title of the Train song and…

Paul Simon – “50 Ways To Leave Your Lover (1975)

Here are the full versions:

Train – “50 Ways To Say Goodbye (2012)

Sarah Brightman & Michael Crawford – “The Phantom Of The Opera (1986)


Song of the day: Jellyfish – "Joining A Fan Club" (live)

October 30, 2012

Boy oh boy, Jellyfish were good:

Jellyfish – “Joining A Fan Club” (live) (1993)

And here’s the studio version:

Jellyfish – “Joining A Fan Club” (1993)


Song of the day: Research Turtles – "Guy Like Me"

October 29, 2012

Here’s some music I completely forgot to tell you about last week when the Research Turtles told me they’d released an EP.

So let’s start this post properly…

The Research Turtles have released an EP. It’s actually part two of an album called Mankiller. Part one was released last year.

Which leads me to the following pondering:

Quite why the band decided to release an album in two parts, a year apart, is a bit beyond me. Maybe they did it as a novelty (or, as the band might put it: “We’re tryin’ somethin’ new, man!”) Maybe they didn’t have enough songs when it came time to record the album (or, as the band might put it: “No way! We had this planned all along!”).

Anyway, the upshot of all of this is that them thar Turtles released Part 2 of Mankiller, told me about it, and now I’m telling you about it – albeit belatedly. (Sorry about that, chaps.)

As I may have done in my post for Mankiller Part 1 (I’ll have to check), I’ll present you with Part 2’s six tracks and comment on each one. Feel free to ignore my comments and just listen to the music. (That’s the part of the post that matters: the music.)

Announcement Before You Hear Mankiller Part 2

In what appears to be a case of the entire band going mad, they told me that Mankiller Parts 1 and 2, as well as their first, self-titled album, and other things they’ve recorded, are all available completely free of charge. You can grab everything on the band’s Music page, and you don’t even have to join a mailing list or provide details of any kind. You just click on the links and start downloading. Mad.

Another Announcement Before You Hear Mankiller Part 2

Those turtlesque chaps (“They’re turtle-y wild!”) told me that the main Research Turtle, Jud Norman, has recorded a solo album. He’s a productive blighter, because in addition to writing the bulk of the Research Turtles material this is his second solo album. It’s apparently a collection of home demos that were lying around not being heard by other people. It sounds to me like a tidy-up of loose bits and pieces. A bit of housekeeping, eh Jud?

Anyway, Jud’s album is also free on the band’s Music page.

Unless Jud expressly forbids me to, I’ll have a listen to his solo album sometime and let you know what I think of it.

But first I have to finish this post.

Summary Of Mankiller Part 2 Before You Hear Mankiller Part 2

Mankiller Part 2 is, reassuringly enough, a continuation of Part 1. There aren’t any major musical surprises along the lines of “Oh no – the band’s gone completely calypso and replaced all their instruments with steel drums! They sound nothing like they did last year!”.

If there’s a standout track (or, as the band might put it: “They’re all standouts, you idiot!”), it might be “Into You”. maybe.

Mankiller – Part 2 of 2

1. “Guy Like Me”

I like the main tune in this one, and how it presents itself very unobtrusively (with solo voice), and then builds little by little until it settles into a nice, low-key track. I think it’s an interesting way to open an EP/second-half of an album.

Incidentally, the way “Guy Like Me” starts reminds me of “The Way I Feel Inside” by The Zombies. It’s not a huge musical coincidence or anything – it’s just an excuse for me to hear Colin Blunstone‘s voice again:

The Zombies – “The Way I Feel Inside” (1966)

Sigh.

2. “The Fancy”

This is a moody mid-tempo guitar-going-chk-chk-chk-chk New Wave-ish rocker with bizarre singing. And I mean bizarre. Whoever sang this decided to adopt an affected accent along the lines of the overly emotive New Romantics of the early 1980s. This really is bizarre singing. I’m mystified as to why Mr. Singin’ Man chose to sing with that out-of-character singing. But I’m reassured that mercifully no other vocal in the Research Turtles canon sounds anything like what you hear in this song.

Update: It’s just occurred to me that, after listening to the song again and this time paying attention to the lyrics, The Singing Dude is probably singing in an extremely mannered manner deliberately, to emphasise the “fanciness” of the object of his lust affections.

3. “Break It Up”

When this one started I thought “Oh-oh – this verse is a bit ordinary.” But then the chorus came along (0:14) with some very enjoyable vocal harmonies (0:18). I liked the glam guitar sound after right after the chorus (0:28). Unfortunately, the ordinary verse came back (0:34), and I was waiting fairly impatiently for that chorus which duly arrived (0:47) to relieve the (admittedly mild) tedium. The middle eight appeared (1:03) right on schedule (i.e., after the second chorus – as it does in almost every rock song ever recorded). I liked it. For a moderately straight-ahead rocker, the end of the middle eight contained some weird vocal harmonies immediately after the singers says how much he likes a particular girl’s skin. (“I see you everywhere / the color of your hair / the dimples in your grin / and most of all, your skin”.) Now, I don’t know much about the modern courting procedures of young people, but telling a girl the thing you like most about her is her skin – is that creepy? In this case I’m guessing yes, because the background vocals when he mentions her skin (1:26-1:31) do sound a little… odd.

I’m spending way too much time talking about this song.

After the middle eight the band plays an instrumental break (1:33-1:40, which is basically a foot-stomping version of the verse with the vocals) until the singer finishes the verse with some warbling. Then it’s into the last chorus (1:53). As prescribed in The Unwritten Rules Of Modern Rock Song Writing, it’s a double chorus to end the song. Also in the rules, a band has a choice of ending their song with either a bang (i.e., the band all stops together) or with a fade-out. (According to the rules, they’re the only two choices a band has. Apparently you’re not allowed to do something like fade back in, or stop multiple times.) The Research Turtles chose to end their song with the bang.

And I’ll try to be a bit more succinct in describing the rest of the songs on this EP.

4. “Space”

This is a garage-y rocker, and I enjoyed it – especially the bit from 1:07-1:27 where the band really takes off. (Pun definitely not intended. Because it’s awful.) When the song started, it reminded me of early Hoodoo Gurus. (Thank you, Research Turtles, for reminding me of Hoodoo Gurus.)

With the stop-start drums in the verses, and then the flying-off-into-space choruses, I can imagine “Space” sounding good live.

5. “Into You”

No, this isn’t the Atlanta Rhythm Section song, “So Into You“.

Despite the drum beats for both the verses and choruses (they’re not my favourite rhythms), I liked this song. I think this one might have the best tunes in it. After an ill-fitting middle eight (1:47-2:03 – I don’t think it suits the rest of the song), there’s a frisky guitar solo. It’s divided into two parts. The first part (2:03-2:16) features a guitar playing a pattern notes, but it’s had a digital delay applied to it to such a degree that I thought it was silly (but not the good kind of silly). The second part (2:16-2:28), however, is magnificent. It’s a cascade of fast note runs (sort of like playing scales, but hyperactively). I loved it. After the guitar solo it was time to repeat the chorus until the end of the song. I liked the little background vocal touches in this part of the song. For example, someone sings a cute “You” in the left channel at 2:34-2:35. And soon after that, when the lead singer finishes singing the word “mine” at 2:39 the background vocals keep going by stretching out their “mine” with its own tune. And they don’t stop singing their “mine” until lead singer chappy comes back for the next line. I thought it was nice of them to keep singing until he came back. They waited for him. Awww. When the band finishes the song with an extended flourish (2:52 onwards), the drummer lets loose with some tasty fills.

6. “What Can I Say?”

This track I find a little hard to describe adequately. To me, this is simultaneously a relaxed and polished garage rock song – if that’s possible. It also has little elements of early-60s songs such as the “oo-oo-oo-oo” background vocals from 0:17-0:19. I like this. Actually, there were a lot things I liked about this particular song. I thought the middle eight (1:12-1:26) suited the song beautifully. Although it had a couple of dodgy aspects to it – using the drum beat from “That Thing You Do”, and using the horrendously overused phrase “I know that our love will never die” – I liked it a lot. I really liked the harmonised twin-guitar solo (1:27-1:41). Very Thin Lizzy. (Yum.) And I liked how the bass player played an enthusiastic run of notes when everybody else got quieter for the bit between the middle eight and the next section, from 1:41-1:55 (The Bass Player: “Now it’s my chance to shine!”). I liked the arpeggiated guitar in the right channel (1:55-2:06) as the band gradually built the song up to the final choruses – although I don’t quite know why it was accompanied by what sounded like jingle bells. With a time of 2:32, I enjoyed this song so much that I thought it was way too short. But I know how to rectify that: I’ll play it again.

***

Well, that’s what I thought of Mankiller Part 2. My comments about Part 1 are somewhere around here. Hang on…

OK. Here they are.

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Educating Peter # 19

October 28, 2012

This week Michael has suggested a song I’ve never heard, by a band I don’t know. Excellent.

The song is “Girl On A Train“, and the band is Squire. The only thing Michael told me about the track was that the band were from the UK.

Squire – “Girl On A Train (1982)

0:00-0:05 – I like how “Girl On A Train” starts, with the drummer replicating the sound of a train. It instantly reminded me of this piece of Australian rock history:

Kevin Borich Express – “Goin’ Down Town” (1977)

Magnificent.

Focus, Peter. Back to the Squire song.

0:05-0:06 – I like that drum roll. I didn’t notice it the first time I heard it, but then I cranked up the volume and heard a nice subtle roll followed by syncopated snare hits. Very nice. (And sorry about using fancy musical terms for something that lasts only a couple of seconds in a song.)

0:07-0:19 – Ah, it’s a skinny tie song. With a cute guitar melody. And handclaps. I like it. Because it’s going on and on a little bit with its instrumental-osity, I’m beginning to think this is going to be an instrumental a la The Shadows. That’s fine by me, because I love The Shadows. (Twang!)

Unbelievably useless trivia: The rhythm guitar in the left channel is very slightly out of tune. (It sounds like the A string to me.) And the bass guitar part is unimagiative because it’s playing nothing more than what the twangy guitar is playing.

0:19-0:26 – Oh. The singing started. It’s not an instrumental. Ah well. This is the verse, and I like the vocal melody. But I’m not entirely liking the guitar mimicking it. I’d much rather hear the guitar harmonising with the vocal melody than just doubling it. That would make it more interesting to me as a listener. I’m still liking the song though.

More trivia: The bass guitar part in the verse is much more imaginative.

0:26-0:30 – I’m having a bit of trouble with the lyrics here. I don’t know if it’s the singer’s accent, or if it’s my ears, but there’s a word in the second-half of the verse that I can’t quite figure out. As far as I can tell, he sings “Won’t you tell me, you’re gang girl on the train”, but that doesn’t make any sense because boys don’t ask girls if they’re “gang”. (“Hi, are you gang girl”?) I’d love to know what he’s actually singing, but the more I hear it the more I keep hearing “you’re gang girl on the train”. Grrr. Hang on, I’ll consult the Internet…

I’ve consulted the Internet, and I’m pleased to let you know that the “Girl On A Train” available at Bandcamnp (the one I used for this post, above) contains the lyrics. Woohoo!

Here are the lyrics to the first verse:

“Won’t you tell me your name
Girl on the train
Won’t you tell me your game
Girl on the train”

So it’s “game”. That makes more sense. However, because the two distinctly separate lines (“Won’t you tell me your game” and “Girl on the train”) are sung continuously I thought it was one line. In other words, I was confused.

Back to the rest of the song.

0:32-0:45 – Oh no. This is terrible. The chorus of “Girl On A Train” began with the line “You keep on staring at me”, and then it hit me.

No. Please no.

The lyrics remind me of James Blunt‘s “You’re Beautiful“. I really don’t want any song to remind me of James Blunt’s “You’re Beautiful” – under any circumstances.

But it can’t be denied: both songs are about seeing a girl on a train. (Lyrics to “You’re Beautiful”.) No! Make it stop! Make the comparison stop! Please!

Allow me a few moments to compose myself…

That’s better.

Now, where was I?

Oh yeah. The Squire song.

0:46-1:11 – I liked the little skip in the drums at 0:48. It was a bit pointless, but I liked it. And I liked the quick two hi-hat open-closes (i.e., “tst-tst”) from 0:57-0:58. Frisky.

It’s awkward lyrics time: from 1:05-1:07 the singer sings the line “That would be a groove to me”. It comes out awkwardly because he has to squeeze “groove to me” in a very short amount of time, and ends up having to rush the words. Why didn’t he just sing “That would be so groovy”? Phrasing-wise it’s metrically even, with one syllable for each note. Easy.

1:11-1:26 – It’s the middle eight – and I’ve realised that although we’re only at the half-way mark in the song, I’ve typed far too much already. Gulp. Anyway, I’ll plough on and try to shorten things.

This middle eight is fun. I was surprised when I heard the background vocals sing “Choo-choo choo, cho-choo choo…” That’s silly. But fun.

1:26-1:52 – Boy, the band are really flogging that tune. It’s the guitar solo, and that’s all the guitarist is playing. From 1:39-1:52 the guitar part becomes a harmonised, twin-guitar part that I liked a lot.

Trivia: In that twin-guitar solo from 1:39-1:52 the chords are F sharp minor to D major with a little switch to D minor thorn in at the end. The bass guitarist forgot about the change to D minor, and keeps playing as if the chord is still D major.

1:52 – More frisky hi-hat work from the drummer. I like the drummer.

1:53-2:07 – A repeat of the middle eight. Nothing to report.

2:07-2:18 – One more verse before the end. At 2:16 the drummer adds a snare triplet for effect, and I like it. (I’ve always liked triplets in music.)

2:18-2:48 – Well, that was a slight surprise. It’s another middle eight. (It’s not a different one. It’s the same as the other ones, with the “choo-choo choo…”.) And this one has a lyrics problem. The singer begins this middle eight with “Do you live at home with your mom and dad?”. He crams in “Do you live at…” at such a speed that it almost becomes gibberish. (The vocals being double-tracked here doesn’t help either.) But admittedly it’s a minor thing, as the middle eight whizzes by on its way to a repeat of the main tune and the finish.

***

In conclusion (finally)…

I liked “Girl On A Train”, despite it reminding me lyrically of a James Blunt song I have no desire to remember.

One criticism I’d level at “Girl On A Train” is that it’s basically one good tune surrounded by a whole lot of forgettable filler. To me, that doesn’t make for a great pop ditty. (I’d like to hear at least three memorable tunes in a good pop song.)

But apart from that, I found it enjoyable in an “It’s alright while it’s on” kind of way.

And as for Michael using this series to ask me each week the following question…

“Hey Peter: now that you’ve heard that song, isn’t the music of the 1980s much better than you remember?”

…the answer to his question is, for the 19th week in a row:

No.


Song of the day: Bryan Ferry – "This Is Tomorrow"

October 28, 2012

I’d like to thank fellow blogger Stonefish (Hi, Stoney!) for posting a couple of Roxy Music songs on his blog, because it reminded me of this:

Bryan Ferry – “This Is Tomorrow (1977)