Song of the day: Elvis Costello – "…This Town…"

November 19, 2012

I like free association. It’s the reason today’s post exists.

This is how today’s post came about:

  1. Commenter Jon (Hi, Jon!) asked to hear a particular Split Enz song on the blog. He also mentioned that he had a bit of trouble with some of my older Split Enz posts, which prompted me to repair them.
  2. One of the old Split Enz posts highlighted the bass playing of Nigel Griggs.
  3. Nigel Griggs is one of my favourite bass players. I’d describe him as coming from the Paul McCartney school of melodic, fluid bass playing.
  4. Paul McCartney’s bass playing on Elvis Costello‘s “Veronica” is magnificent.
  5. “Veronica” appears on Elvis Costello’s album Spike.
  6. The opening track on Spike is “… This Town… “, and it has a jangly chorus that I adore.
  7. I discovered that I’ve never put “… This Town …” on the blog.

As a result of that free association, may I present to you:

Elvis Costello – “… This Town …” (1989)


Song of the day: Ben Folds Five – "Alice Childress"

November 11, 2012

Yesterday’s marathon post featured a review of Jud Norman‘s album, Baby Step. I have to say that Jud did nothing to deserve the unacceptable verbosity of the review (it was way too long), and he certainly didn’t deserve to have his album cover defaced. (Sorry about replacing that picture of your face with a kitten, Jud.)

However, the reason I’m mentioning all of that today is that one of the songs on Jud’s album prompted today’s song.

Track 11 on Jud’s album is called “Alison Mosshart”. When I saw that title I remembered “Alice Childress”, one of my favourite tracks on Ben Folds Five‘s their 1995 debut album. The melody in the chorus is gorgeous, and the harmonies make it even more gorgeous. An added bonus is those harmonies remind me very much of Todd Rundgren, which I consider to be Not A Bad Thing At All.

Ben Folds Five – “Alice Childress” (1995)


Now, because “Alice Childress” may be a bit too low-key for anyone coming to this blog expecting “Power Pop!”, I’ve decided to add a zippier song from that Ben Folds Five debut album. This one is “Julianne“:

Ben Folds Five – “Julianne (1995)


I love how for the drum fills we hear breaking glass instead of drums.

Another Song That The Song In Yesterday’s Post Reminded Me Of

Jud Norman’s “Alison Mosshart” also reminded me of this:

Elvis Costello – “Alison (1977)


There are probably oodles of other “Alison”-ish or “Alice”-esque songs out there, but they were the first two ones I thought of.

Song of the day: Elvis Costello – "All You Need Is Love"

August 29, 2012

Sometimes all you need is a guitar and a good song:

Elvis Costello – “All You Need Is Love (1985)

Here’s the original:

The Beatles – “All You Need Is Love (1967)


Musical coincidences # 49

April 18, 2010

Today’s coincidence isn’t a note-for-note piece of pilfering – it’s more of a general vibe*.

GANGgajang is an Australian band who have been around since the 80’s and best known for basically one song, “The Sounds Of Then“, which almost always appears on Australian compilation CDs with names like Australia’s Best Barbecue Songs, or Songs For Down-Under Dads, or Aussie Songs You Can’t Escape etc. GANGgajang have released plenty of albums, had a sustained career, and as far as I know are still plugging away. In November 25, 1985 they appeared on the TV music program Rock Arena performing live in the studio. One of the songs they played that night, “Surfin’ Round The World”, was only ever played during encores and never put on a GANGgajang album until 2006 when they recorded it for a surfing movie called Delightful Rain:

GANGgajang – “Surfin’ Round The World” (2006)
Link The rhythm of the song, the chord progression (A minor to F major), and especially the twangy guitar riff, all reminded me rather strongly of… Elvis Costello – “Watching The Detectives” (1977) Link GANGgajang on MySpaceElvis Costello on MySpace (*Man.)

Musical coincidences # 32

October 31, 2009

Here’s a well-known Elvis Costello song:

Elvis Costello And The Attractions – “Pump It Up (1978)


“Pump It Up” appeared on Costello’s second album, This Year’s Model (1978), an album I’ve already raved about.

The song may or may not be about, shall we say, onanistic endeavours, but one thing is for certain: the main riff has been stolen by at least two other artists that I know of – and none-too-subtly, either.

The first is “Wild, Wild West” by The Escape Club, a long-forgotten band who, in the late 80’s, were being heralded as the Next Big Thing in rock:

The Escape Club – “Wild, Wild West (1988)


But the most blatant rip-off of “Pump It Up” is a song called “Voodoo Child” by English/Australian techno riff-nicking outfit Rogue Traders:

Rogue Traders – “Voodoo Child (2005)


I know that the Rogue Traders fully acknowledged the lift (and gave Costello a co-writing credit), but that doesn’t make it alright. Some things are just plain unacceptable.

Song of the day: Elvis Costello and The Attractions – "No Action"

October 30, 2009

Here’s the non-Australian Elvis Costello and The Attractions with “No Action” (1978):


“No Action” is the opening track of Costello’s second album, the still-astonishing This Year’s Model, an album that, for me, hasn’t dated one bit since it was first released in 1978. It’s still near the top of my list of all-time favourite power-pop albums. A lot of people probably don’t think of Elvis Costello as a power pop artist at all, and never have. Most people think of him as rock’s original Mr. Bitter, or as Punk‘s First Man of Letters due to his exceptional wordplay (during the punk period, most artists around him were simply yelling “Destroy!”). Although he later dabbled in other genres such as country and lounge, I don’t think Elvis’ music has ever been considered power pop. Yet I think This Year’s Model is a Grade-A power pop album – it’s full of great tunes and has boundless energy. As far as I’m concerned, that‘s power pop.

Here’s track 2 on the album:

Elvis Costello and The Attractions – “This Year’s Girl” (1978)


And here’s track 9:

Elvis Costello and The Attractions – “Lip Service” (1978)


Now, listen to those tracks and tell me that’s not power pop.