Song of the day: Frank Bennett – "Black Stick"

April 26, 2011

Here’s cooler-than-cool Frank Bennett with his take on “Black Stick”, a not-quite-a-jazz-standard by The Cruel Sea:

Frank Bennett – “Black Stick” (1998)

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Here’s the original for comparison:

The Cruel Sea – “Black Stick” (1992)

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I know which one I prefer, baby. I’m hep.


Frank’s Faves on Fridays

October 22, 2010

Tal Bachman – “She’s So High (1999)

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I remember this when it was played incessantly on the radio here in Australia. But that was alright by me, because I like this song, especially the chorus. That’s a great chorus. And listening to the song, I’d be tempted to say that it’s a very good song. Despite the sound of the snare drum.

The Cruel Sea – “Delivery Man” (1993)

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An Australian band I’m familiar with, but a band whose music I’ve heard next to nothing of. I’m very familiar with the lead singer, the extremely entertaining Tex Perkins. If ever a man was born to be in front of a band, it’s Tex Perkins. He’s appeared on a lot of TV music programs here in Australia and whatever program he’s on, he’s managed to steal the show every time. But to the song: it’s the kind of swampy bluesy rock that’s never done much for me. I know a lot people absolutely love swampy bluesy rock, getting’ lost in the groove and feelin’ all dirty etc., but it leaves me with no particular emotion. However, the song did evoke a response in me: I thought that the beat sounded like a man dragging his injured leg on a dirt road. (Possibly on his way to murder the man who tried to run him over.) But apart from that, I’ll use the word that hip youngsters like to use nowadays to describe how I felt listening to the song: Meh. (Maybe that’s a little too harsh. How about I downgrade that “meh” to an “eh”? Or even an “h”?)

Bill Lloyd – “Going Nowhere Tonight” (1996)

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I’ve heard of Bill Lloyd – and actually heard some of his music. I have his Set To Pop (1994) and actually heard it a few months ago (my media player tells me it was April) but, I must confess, that I don’t remember any of it at all, so I couldn’t tell you what I think of Bill Lloyd. Excuse me while I go and listen to Set To Pop again… Right, now that I’ve heard it again, I’ve come to the (possibly hasty) conclusion that Bill Lloyd’s music is slightly country-ish, slightly Marshall Crenshaw-ish power pop, but without any great Marshall Crenshaw-ish tunes. My guess is that if you like slightly country-ish power pop then Bill Lloyd’s your man. Now, back to the song. There’s a nice twangy guitar playing throughout the song, but the whole thing prompts me to criticise many aspects of it, but I don’t really want to do that. (As my parents always said: “If you can’t say anything nice about someone, don’t say anything at all.”). Unfortunately, I’m going to violate my parents’ rule somewhat by mentioning that I found the backing vocals weak. I thought they were wildly inconsistent. For example:

0:36 – a harmony note is flat
0:46 – a harmony note is good
1:20 – there’s a three-part harmony where one of the voices is flat, but when that section is repeated at 1:29 all the voices are in tune and sound marvellous
1:54 – for some reason the main vocal is double-tracked here (it wasn’t up until then) until the last note of the phrase which becomes a harmony note (at 1:58) but it’s horribly flat
2:08 – a three-part harmony that’s a mess (someone’s out of tune)

For me, all of that messiness warrants a trip back into the studio to re-do those vocals. I reckon a few more takes would have done the trick. As for the song overall, my response is pretty much as it was with The Cruel Sea’s song. Sorry about that. (You probably hold the Bill Lloyd track in high esteem, and here I am picking it to pieces. You’re quite entitled, Frank, to shout out a very long “Nooooooooooo!”)

Sara Hickman – “Simply” (1989)

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This is your first folkie suggestion, possibly as a result of me going ga-ga over Australian folkie Caitlin Harnett a little while ago. (I’m picturing this scenario in the mind of Frank: “Oh, good. Peter’s played a folk artist on his blog. Now I can safely suggest that folk artist I like.”) I like this song. I like pretty much everything about this song. Everything, that is, except for the weird (and pointless) sound effect at the start of it and occasionally later. (It’s an indistinct oscillating sound. I don’t know what it is, but I found it irritating.) That’s a beautifully constructed (and recorded) guitar solo. I really like the sound of the guitars in this song. They’re very well recorded. (The nylon-string guitar sounds fabulous.) And Sara Hickman’s voice is quite lovely, as are the vocal harmonies. Very nice.

Bonus instrumental:

Nick Perito – “The Green Leaves Of Summer” (1960)

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Ah, Easy Listening. This particular Easy Listening track is one that I’ve never heard before. As I’m listening to it, I’m thinking that it’s a little bland. I do like the piano accordion playing the main tune. And in the time it took me to type the last two sentences, the song finished. Wow, that’s a short track. Time to play it again… I’m liking it a bit more this time. (Love that accordion. And the subtle background vocals.) It’s still a little bland. I’ve noticed in the song’s tag that this track appears on the Inglourious Basterds soundtrack. I haven’t seen the movie, so I don’t know where in the movie this piece of music appears, or how effective it is for the scene. Jeepers – the track just finished again. Time to play it one more time… It’s very low key, and I’m still finding it a bit bland. OK, I’ll play it one more time… Yep, still bland. I’m getting the feeling that I’m not going to like much more no matter how many times I play it (so far, I’ve played it four times). I’d say that, of all the instrumental tracks you’ve suggested, this would be my least favourite.

Despite me going “meh” a couple of times, I’m glad that you’re suggesting stuff with a lot of variety. Much obliged, Frank.