Frank’s Faves on Fridays

January 21, 2011

Del Amitri – “Always The Last To Know” (1992)

Del Amitri were known here in Australia for primarily one song (which was a hit), and it’s a song that I can’t remember the name of at the moment. Hang on… I’ve consulted the Internet (thank you, Internet), and the song is “Kiss This Thing Goodbye”, which I never liked much. (Maybe it was a blues-pop song that wasn’t quite poppy enough or bluesy enough for me.) Nevertheless, I hardly remember “Kiss This Thing Goodbye” (I had a quick five-second refresher course courtesy of YouTube), so I can quite confidently approach this previously-unheard-by-me* song by Del Amitri with (relatively) fresh ears. I’m now listening to “Always The Last To Know”, and I’m not enjoying it much. I dare say that because it’s a “rootsy” pop song, you’d enjoy it much more. As you may be aware (I’ve probably moaned about it plenty of times already), I’m not a fan of “rootsy”. I know that Del Amitri are from Scotland (thanks again, Internet), but I’d slot this song in with Steve Earle and all those other roots rockers you’ve suggested to me in the past (my mind has inconveniently blocked the names of all of them from my memory). I’ve listened to “Always The Last To Know” my minimum three times now, but even after three times it doesn’t do much at all for me I’m afraid. I did like it a little more by the third hearing, but not by much. (However, I don’t think that I’ll keep liking it more with each listen and end up loving it after the 927th time). Despite my lack of enthusiasm for this song, Del Amitri, and roots rock in general, I will say that I think the song’s well done. But feel free to keep sending me those rootsy/rocky songs – I may end up liking one of them. (Ever the optimist.)

[*That sounds a little pretentious to me. I’ll try not to sound pretentious from now on.]

The Babys – “Isn’t It Time” (1977)

Hooray! I didn’t think anybody would have remembered The Babys. “Isn’t It Time” was a huge hit in Australia (and it caused me to buy their first two albums which I still love, despite them sounding a bit cheesier now than when I first listened to them at the ages of 15 and 16), but it’s hardly ever played on the radio here nowadays. I don’t know why. I also don’t know why The Babys aren’t mentioned more in other places as well, such as music magazines and blogs. (Why are there so many musical mysteries?) Anyway, back to the song. I think that pretty much every aspect of this song is of a very high standard. The song’s construction (i.e., the melodies, chord choices, verse/chorus ratio etc) is superb, the playing is fabulous, the singing is even more fabulous (John Waite – yeah!), and the entire production is huge in that wonderful Bob Ezrin, bombastic style that I really enjoy. Yep – as soon as I’ve finished listening to all of your suggestions for this week, I’m going to listen The Babys’ first two albums again. Love those albums (especially the second one, Broken Heart).

Buddy Miles – “Them Changes” (1970)

I know very little about Buddy Miles. This is the sum total of what I know: Buddy Miles played with Jimi Hendrix. That’s it. Now, to the song. I’m sure that I haven’t ever heard this before, but I’m also sure that I have heard that opening riff before. (Maybe I have heard this song before). I’ve gotten to the guitar solo, and I’m please to say that it continues the time-honoured Funk tradition: All Funk Songs Must Have A Guitar Solo Where The Guitar Sounds Awful. Excellent. Oh, I think I know where I’ve heard that opening riff: I’ll have to consult YouTube, but that riff sounds like it may have originally come from a Jimi Hendrix song – “Pali Gap” maybe. Pardon me while I go into dog-with-a-bone mode…

Nope. It’s not “Pali Gap“, but it is something from one of Jimi’s posthumous albums (I had a couple of them on LP but don’t have ’em anymore). Hang on a little longer…

Found it! It’s called “Changes“, and it’s on Jimi’s Band Of Gypsys album. The Wikipedia page for the album lists the track as “Changes” (“Them Changes”) (Buddy Miles). Uh, that makes sense. (Note to self: it’s the same song, you idiot.)

OK. Back to the song.

It’s certainly funkier than the earlier version by Jimi. I think I prefer Buddy’s version. Update: now that I’ve heard it a few times, I definitely prefer it to Jimi’s version. I like the funk drumming, and I love the singing (including some superb screams). Thanks for suggesting this. And sorry for wasting your time as I went off to find out where I’d heard that opening riff before.

The Monkees – “Valleri (1968)

Quite coincidentally, I’ve been listening to a fair bit of The Monkees recently. I acquired their first six albums (with three of them released in 1967 – talk about productive) and a two-disc compilation called The Definitive Monkees (2001). I haven’t listened to them all yet, but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed what I’ve heard so far. I was never much of a Monkees fan, although I watched their TV show as a kiddy (and enjoyed it). I just never followed them as I got older. Until now, that is. “Valleri” is like a lot of the other Monkees songs I’ve heard recently: simply great pop. Sorry, I’ll make that sound more impressive: Simply Great Pop. And those guitar fills are magnificent. The producers of this song got their money’s worth with the session guitarist who provided those supersonic guitar solos. (Wikipedia tells me that the guitarist was Louis Shelton. I’m now a fan of Louis Shelton. Incidentally, Wikipedia also tells me that Louis Shelton currently lives in Australia. Splendid. By the way, Mr. Shelton has his own website, and he calls himself Louie. I don’t mind one bit. I’m a fan of Louie Shelton, too. What a guitarist.)

Louie Shelton. Yay!

Bonus instrumental:

Bimbo Jet – “El Bimbo” (1974)

I have no idea who or what El Bimbo is. When I saw the band’s name I thought it sounded like it’d be a good name for a power pop band. (At least I’m hoping it’s a power pop band.) I also thought that Bimbo Jet would be a fairly rare kind of band, too, and not much information about them would be available. I was pleasantly wrong. With expectant fingers on the keyboard, I typed “Bimbo Jet” and hoped for the best. Well, colour me “amazed”. I found out straight away that there’s a Wikipedia article about them. Fabulous. And I laughed out loud when I was informed by Wikipedia that Bimbo Jet were a French disco group. French Disco. (I guess they’re not a power pop band, then. Ah, well.) Okey dokey. It’s time to put my listening ears on…

Oh, dear. What a galumphing piece of music this is. It’s that sort of early 70’s French soundtrack music to an early 70’s ultra-modern French movie (I think it might be more appropriate to use the phrase “ultra-chic” instead). There were parts of it that made me laugh (for example, the wah-wah guitar in the right channel, and those dreadful wordless vocals singing along with the synthesizer tune), but overall it’s one of those “In the bin!” songs for me. As I typed that, I heard some chap talking in the song. Now he’s whooping, and saying rather strange things. This song is even more of an “In the bin!” song for me now. Although I’m finding it truly awful, there is a certain kitschy charm to it. Although I’m going to listen to this three times (I have to – it’s a personal rule I have with music that’s been suggested to me), I don’t think I’ll be listening to it any more times than that. In the bin!

Postscript to the above song: I’ve listened to the song three times now (in a row), and have come to the conclusion that if you want to send someone mad, lock them in a room and play “El Bimbo” to them over and over again.

Postscript to the above postscript: I’m really hoping that nobody is ever locked in a room and forced to listen to “El Bimbo” over and over again.