Song of the day: Kay Starr – "Wheel Of Fortune"

July 5, 2013

I heard this somewhere* for the first time the other day, and it’s been haunting me ever since.

“Spinning, spinning, spinning…”

Kay Starr – “Wheel Of Fortune (1952)

Here’s the original version:

The Cardinals – “Wheel Of Fortune (1952)

(*I think it may have been in the background of a TV show I wasn’t paying much attention to.)

Song of the day: Anita O’Day with Gene Krupa – "Watch The Birdie"

April 6, 2013

Somebody* posted this on Facebook the other day. I’m glad they did.

Anita O’Day with Gene Krupa – “Watch The Birdie” (1941)

One of my favourite drummers with one of my favourite singers, playing one of my favourite styles of 20th-century popular music. As teenagers where I live used to say about five years ago: “Score!”

And from 4:51-8:09 in this video is one of the most amazing vocal performances I’ve ever heard:

Anita O’Day – “Sweet Georgia Brown” / “Tea For Two (1958)

(*That somebody was Chuck. Thanks, Chuck!)

Song of the day: A band – "Silver Threads And Golden Needles"

December 28, 2012

I hope your Christmas was a mighty fine one. (If it wasn’t mighty fine, then I hope it was at least mighty tolerable.)

Over the next few days I’d like to share with you some of the music on the CDs and DVDs I received. (I like sharing. And I’d like to say that, no matter how small or large, I’m always grateful for whatever comes my way. I might change my online name from Mr. Happy to Mr. Thankful.)

I’ll start with a track from a CD by a band that I’ve played on the blog before, but got into trouble for doing so by naming them. (I guess the record company said “Bah humbug!”)

The band is an Australian folk group who were immensely popular in the 1960s, and who have just reformed for their golden jubilee. Their record company recently released a 2-CD compilation of their hits. (They needed two CDs because they had a lot of hits.) It’s one of the CDs I received. And it’s great.

I’ll attempt to circumvent Blogger’s unhelpfulness by renaming this particular band. I’ll play you a track they recorded this year for that brand new golden jubilee compilation. It’s a remarkably pleasant remake of a very well known song, and I think it might now be my favourite version:

The Peekers – “Silver Threads And Golden Needles (2012)


And here’s the original:

Wanda Jackson – “Silver Threads And Golden Needles (1956)


Song of the day: Justin Kline – "Once A Year"

December 11, 2012

Today’s song holds the distinction of not only being the first Christmas song for this blog, but for being an incredibly catchy Christmas song.

The song is called “Once A Year”, and it comes to you courtesy of American popster Justin Kline (hi, Justin!) who contacted me (and everyone else on his mailing list) to say he’s recorded a Yuletide ditty. (He didn’t actually use the words “Yuletide ditty”.) I’m glad he did, because it’s by far the catchiest new Christmas song I’ve heard so far this year.

Justin Kline – “Once a Year – Single by Justin Kline (2012)

By the way, all the money received from people buying “Once A Year” (for one dollar) goes to a charity called Toys For Tots.

Trivia Time: I’d only ever heard the name “Toys For Tots” once before. It’s an ad from 1956 that appears on a fabulous Christmas compilation album called Christmas Cocktails. The album is part of the Ultra-Lounge series of ultra-hip easy-listening music from the 1950s.

Nat King Cole, Peggy Lee and Vic Damone – “Toys For Tots (1956)


Mighty good.

And here’s Mr. Cole singing it on his own:

Nat King Cole – “Toys For Tots (1956)


Musical coincidences # 345

December 10, 2012

This coincidence is quick ‘n’ easy but the post will be long-winded. Sorry about that.

I was over at the illustrious Powerpopaholic blog (Hi, Aaron!) which is now even more illustrious courtesy of a new review of my beloved Peelgreems‘ album, Big Adventure. (Thanks, Aaron!)

Anyway, the reason I’m mentioning Powerpopaholic is that Aaron also reviewed Men Of La Mancha, an EP by a band called The Mockers.

One of the songs, “Que Vida“, begins with this little melody:

The Mockers – “Que Vida (2012) (excerpt)


That instantly reminded me of:

Cheap Trick – “Don’t Be Cruel (1988) (excerpt)


As well as the original:

Elvis Presley – “Don’t Be Cruel (1956) (excerpt)


Here are the full versions:

The Mockers – “Que Vida (2012)

Cheap Trick – “Don’t Be Cruel (1988)


Elvis Presley – “Don’t Be Cruel (1956)


By the way, that little melody was also used by a band called Middle Brother, and that coincidence was featured in a previous Musical coincidence.

Déjà vu, baby.

Musical coincidences # 334

November 15, 2012

My friend Steve (Hi, Steve!) asked me if I’d ever had a post that featured songs using the riff from T. Rex‘s “Get It On“. My immediate answer was “Nope”, so Steve supplied some tracks he knew of that borrowed the riff, and I found some others.

First of all, here’s the T. Rex riff:

T. Rex – “Get It On (1971) (excerpt)


Apparently, that riff stemmed from a much earlier song. Wikipedia says:

[T. Rex’s Marc] Bolan claimed to have written the song out of his desire to record Chuck Berry‘s “Little Queenie”, and said that the riff is taken from the Berry song.”

My guess is that this is the part of “Little Queenie” that Marc Bolan appropriated:

Chuck Berry – “Little Queenie” (1959) (excerpt)


Here’s a cavalcade of copycats:

The Rolling Stones – “It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll (But I Like It) (1974) (excerpt)


AC/DC – “High Voltage (1975) (excerpt)


The Cars – “Dangerous Type” (1979) (excerpt)


Andy Taylor – “Take It Easy” (1986) (excerpt)


The most litigious musician on the Internet – “Cream (1991) (excerpt)


Oasis – “Cigarettes & Alcohol (1994) (excerpt)


Here are the full versions:

Chuck Berry – “Little Queenie” (1959)


T. Rex – “Get It On (1971)


The Rolling Stones – “It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll (But I Like It) (1974)


AC/DC – “High Voltage (1975)


The Cars – “Dangerous Type” (1979)


Andy Taylor – “Take It Easy” (1986)


The most litigious musician on the Internet – “Cream (1991)


Oasis – “Cigarettes & Alcohol (1994)


Song of the day: Columbus Short – "My Babe"

November 15, 2012

I’m a semi-fan of the blues – i.e., I have to be in the mood for it, otherwise I find it a bit dull.

But when I am in the mood I love it, even when it’s a remake of an old blues song recorded for a movie:

Columbus Short – “My Babe (2008)


Here’s the original:

Little Walter – “My Babe (1955)


Thanks to Stephen for letting me know about “My Babe”. Thanks, Stephenita!

By the way, the drumming in Columbus Short’s version of “My Babe” reminds me of a Squeeze song:

Squeeze – “Messed Around (1981)



Commenter Duncan (Hi, Duncan!) mentioned that “My Babe” was based upon an old spiritual called “This Train” that was recorded by Sister Rosetta Tharpe.

Thanks to Duncan’s comment I’ll present you with “This Train”. Sister Rosetta Tharpe recorded it four times in her career: in 1939, 1943, and twice in 1947.


Being the completist I am, here’s the first recorded version of “This Train”:

Wood’s Famous Blind Jubilee Singers – “This Train Is Bound For Glory” (1925)


Song of the day: Elvis Presley – "Too Much"

November 1, 2012

Today’s song is here as the result of me changing the station on the radio in the car. I wasn’t keen on the default station that promised “All The Hits, From The Eighties To The Eighties, Not Forgetting The Eighties!”. So as I sat there thinking “I’ve already heard all these songs plenty of times”, I noticed my hand moving instinctively and swiftly towards the dial. The next thing I knew, I was listening to a station playing stuff from the Fifties. That was much better.

One of the songs I heard was Elvis Presley‘s “Too Much“, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. But me enjoying it wasn’t enough of a reason for me to put it on the blog.

No, what prompted me to bother you with an Elvis Presley song is the guitar solo by Scotty Moore.

I’d heard the song a couple of times before, but this was the first time I’d paid attention to the solo, and I was floored. I was dumbfounded by the notes Scotty played. They were so unusual that I wasn’t sure if he chose the notes, or the notes chose him. For me, the solo is like free-form jazz in that there aren’t any recognisable scales used (well, none that I could recognise), and the notes are all over the place. I loved it.

So, please enjoy the rockabilly-from-another-universe guitar solo by Scotty Moore, ably backed by his singer at the time:

(Preliminary Information: Before the guitar solo starts properly at 1:29 there’s an introductory riff from 1:21-1:28. But after that, things get weird…)

Elvis Presley – “Too Much (1957)

And here’s the original:

Bernard Hardison – “Too Much (1955)

Educating Peter # 17

October 14, 2012

This week Michael decided to sent me two songs to try and persuade me the 1980s weren’t a barren musical wasteland. Both songs are by The Piranhas, who, according to Michael, were a ska-punk band. I’ll take his word for it, because I don’t remember any band called The Piranhas.

Of the two songs, “Tom Hark” is Michael’s favourite, so that’s the one he put forward for The Song To Be Dismantled Analyzed.

Before I get stuck into the song, I’ll let Wikipedia give you a bit of background to it:

“[The Piranhas] achieved their biggest success with their cover version of the South African kwela song “Tom Hark”. This had been an instrumental hit in 1958 for Elias & His Zig Zag Jive Flutes, and had already been covered in a ska style by Millie Small. With new lyrics written by the band’s frontman “Boring” Bob Grover, it was a Top 10 hit in the UK in 1980. It was the first song to feature on BBC Television‘s pop music programme, Top of the Pops, when it returned in 1980 after being blacked out for several months by industrial action.”

OK. There were approximately eight things there I didn’t know.

Off we go:

The Piranhas – “Tom Hark” (1980)


0:00-0:03 – The swing beat at the very start of the song reminded me of the music of the 1940s. I like the music of the 1940s.

0:03-0:35 – Now it’s gone South African. This very cute. I’m enjoying it. But…

Considering it’s a song that had new lyrics written for it, after the 35-second mark I started wondering where those lyrics had gotten to.

0:35-1:00 – The cuteness continues. Still no sign of those lyrics.

1:00-1:04 – The lyrics have arrived. Ugh. Talk about a mood-spoiler. The lyrics begin: “Does anybody know how long ’til World War Three?” Can I have a different set of lyrics please?

1:04-1:07 – But at least the lyrics are played for laughs. Next line: “I wanna know, I gotta book me holidee.” That’s better.

1:07-1:14 – Next two lines: “They want me in the army, but I just can’t go / I’m far too busy listening to the radio.” That’s fair enough.

1:14-1:27 – The words of the chorus sum up the sentiment of the song:

“The whole thing’s daft, I don’t know why,
You have to laugh, or else you cry,
You have to live or else you die,
You have to laugh or else you cry.”

1:27-1:39 – This a very jolly song. What ho!

1:39-1:52 – Next verse. More of the same “Knees up Mother Brown! Oi!” stuff.

1:52-2:05 – It’s gone a little quieter for this chorus. (The drummer stopped drumming.) I wasn’t going to comment on any aural aspects of this song, mainly because I hadn’t noticed anything out of the ordinary, but there is one thing about this chorus. Usually in a song of this nature (loud, cheerful, and singalong) there’d be handclaps on the offbeat. In this chorus, though, instead of handclaps there’s something that sounds like a suction cup, or a plunger – or something. I don’t know what it is, because I haven’t heard anything like it before.

2:05-2:18 – The drums have started up again, but suction cup thing is still there on the offbeat. Now I wondering if it was always there in the song. Time for a quick rewind… Ah, I’ve discovered it was there earlier in the song. It made its first appearance at 0:48.

Right. Back to where I was…

2:18-2:42 – Here’s where the entire band does a little accent (first time at 2:20). It’s like a cancan dancer kicking out her leg.

That’s about all I can think to say about “Tom Hark”. Not very interesting, but there it is.

Now for the other one:

The Piranhas – “Zambezi” (1982)


0:00-2:44 – Great song, so-so performance.

Both those songs were cover versions. Now it’s time for the originals…

Elias And His Zig-Zag Jive Flutes – “Tom Hark” (1958)


Lou Busch & His Orchestra – “Zambezi” (1956)


Which reminds me of New Zealand Australian band Dragon‘s song:

Dragon – “O Zambezi (1978)


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.)