Educating Peter # 30

January 13, 2013

I may have to make this a quick edition of Educating Peter this week, because I have a pile of other stuff to do. (Some of it involves writing album reviews for a multitude of bands that descended upon me with requests to mention them on this very blog.)

So I might be spending three minutes listening to the song, and four minutes writing about it.

Right. Where did I put that song Michael sent me?

Oh yeah. Right here:

The Del-Lords – “Shame On You” (1984)

Link

0:00-0:01½ –Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha… Wipeout!

0:01½-0:04 –I saw her today…

0:04-0:13 – This drum beat in the introduction is very four-square. I’m not hearing anything yet to perk up my ears.

0:13-0:25 – A twangy guitar has joined the band, and I’m beginning to get the felling that this is a roots-rock song. I don’t like roots-rock songs.

0:25-0:37 – The first verse. Yuk. For the first line, the singer is just singing the guitar part. (At least he mixes it up after that.) The last time I heard that kind of lazy melody writing was from Australian band the Sunnyboys. I posted a few songs by the Sunnyboys a couple of years ago after being berated by a Sunnyboys fan for having an Australian power pop without any Sunnyboys on it.

At 0:34 there’s a noticeably flat vocal note (“I thought you WERE my friend”). I was surprised the producer left that in.

0:37-0:52 – More of the verse. This is a lonnnnng verse.

0:52-1:05 – Finally we get to the chorus. I’m not sure it was worth the wait.

Wow. Another dud note from the singer. For me, this is even more surprising because it’s at the start of the chorus. The dud note is the second word of the chorus’s three-word phrase: “Shame ON you”. As far as I’m aware, that phrase in the chorus would be the thing that the whole song revolves around, so that’s why I’m surprised. Almost as importantly as a song’s introduction, the first chorus is where you usually do your darnedest to make a great impression on the listener by putting your best musical foot forward. But to have the second note of a three-note phrase be out of tune is… well, it’s something that gets me writing inordinately long paragraphs about incredibly trivial things.

Now I’m wondering: was there a producer around to notice those dodgy vocals?

Anyway, the sings the “on” in “Shame on you” out of tune again at 0:58. I have a feeling he might not be a very good singer.

1:02-1:05 – A cute little country guitar lick at the end of the chorus to keep my mind off the vocals.

1:05-1:31 – Next verse.

I don’t know why the singer added a pause at 1:18 between the words “don’t” and “wanna” in the line “I don’t wanna answer no questions”. It sounded awkward to me.

And his phrasing from 1:23-1:25, where he sings “I’m a little bit embarrassed…” sounded bizarre. It was if he decided to sing like his idea of a country hick.

And…

At the end of this verse the singer sings “…of you” (1:29-1:31). Both notes are long, and they’re supposed to be the same note, but the first (i.e., “you”) is a little flatter than the first note.

I’m fully aware that all of this is unbelievably unimportant, but the singer’s variable singing annoys me.

1:31-1:41 – Next chorus.

1:41-1:47 – And a longer country guitar lick to lead into the country guitar solo.

1:47-2:14 – The guitar solo. It sounds to me like the guitarist knew approximately eight country licks and decided to use them all in this solo.

Incidentally, is that a wrong bass note at 2:11? When everyone else is playing an E chord, the bass guitarist plays an A. I’m pretty sure it’s not a passing note (it doesn’t sound like one to me). As far as I can tell, he wasn’t supposed to play A there. My guess is that he came in too soon, thinking everyone else was going to. (The proper A that the entire band plays is actually half a bar later.) I’m also guessing that after he quickly corrected himself, he hoped no-one would notice.

2:14-2:24 – Chorus. Yep.

Oh. At 2:21-2:22 the singer tries a bit of vocalising with the word “you”. I don’t think it was terribly successful.

2:24-2:50 – Last verse before the last chorus.

And one last thing about the singing. (I hope it’s the last thing.)

From 2:24-2:30 the singin’ chappy sings “Who would have thought after all we learned you kick me out and just watch me burn…”. He phrases the middle of that line in a very odd way to me. At 2:26 he doesn’t pause between “learned” and “you”, but does pause immediately after that, between “you” and out”. So what happens here is that instead being natural by singing “After all we learned, you kick me out…”, he actually sings “After all we learned you, kick me out…”. It’s just a weird place to put a pause in that line. Now I have the phrase “learned you” stuck in my head.

And I just spent way too long typing that explanation.

2:30-2:33 – Isn’t this a little late in the song to start adding harmony vocals?

2:37-2:39 – That’s one of the weirdest drum fills in a verse I’ve ever heard. The fill itself is fine – it’s where the drummer placed it that has me scratching my head.

2:50-3:12 – A chorus that just keeps on going and going.

Unfortunately, during this extended chorus I noticed one more thing (sorry) regarding The Singin’ Man’s vocals. For example, there’s something strange from 2:53-2:54. Unless it was a special effect on his voice (I don’t think it was), the singer had trouble with the “Shame on you” there. It sounded like he was losing his voice, or a bug flew into his throat. It happens again at 3:05-3:06, but it’s not as pronounced as before.

3:12-3:27 – For some reason, the guitarist here launches into a bit of “I Fought The Law” guitar playing. I don’t know why.

3:27-3:31 – And then he arpeggiates his chords. (Example of an arpeggio here.) I don’t know why he did that either.

3:36 – The singer ends the song with a not-terribly-rousing “Hey!”.

This song reminded me of last week’s song, in that I’ve found them both dishearteningly bland. Two dishearteningly bland songs in a row. That’s not the way to convince me that the ’80s were worth revisiting.

Why does Michael keep sending me such ordinary songs?

(Note to self: They’re not ordinary to Michael. He likes them, and hopes you might like them too. So be courteous, Peter.)

By the way, the more I listened to this week’s song, with its roots-rock-iness (or “roots-rock-osity” if you prefer), the more I thought of this song:

Now that’s how you do roots rock.

OK. That’s that Educating Peter out of the way for this week.

Back to those album reviews.

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