Educating Peter # 15

September 30, 2012

I must state from the outset that my responses here may be will definitely be affected by recent listening habits. I’m currently halfway through the entire Beatles discography (again), and I’ve just finished listening to Revolver.

So I’m afraid that at the moment anything Michael throws at me will be at a distinct disadvantage. (Note to self: Try not to compare Michael’s suggestion to “Taxman“, “Here, There And Everywhere“, “And Your Bird Can Sing” “She Said She Said“, “For No One“, “I’m Only Sleeping” etc etc.)

The lamb to the slaughter today is Fischer-Z‘s “The Perfect Day”.

Fischer-Z – “The Perfect Day” (1988)

Link

Up until “The Perfect Day”, this was the extent of my knowledge of Fischer-Z:

  1. The name of the band
  2. So Long

That’s it.

I’d like to thank Michael for opening my ears to another Fischer-Z song. I can now boast that I know double the amount of Fischer-Z songs than I did previously. Double!

But this preamble isn’t getting me listening to the song. Now to listen to the song…

0:00-0:11 – What was that? I’m going to have to listen to it again, but louder this time, so I can figure out what that girl’s disembodied voice is saying. Hang on…

The weird girl’s voice said “It’s a game everyone has to play”. Why did she say it? And why did the record’s producer decide to use so many digital effects on her voice? To me, that introduction was bizarre. And pointless. Now for the rest of the song.

0:11-0:18 – Oh dearie dearie me. This is not good. It was really not handy for me to listen to this after Revolver. The synthetic everything about this introduction is off-putting. (I was going to say “incredibly off-putting”, but it really isn’t that off-putting.) This is one of the reasons that I tend to run screaming from the music of the 1980s. Every single sound you hear is processed until it doesn’t sound real anymore. For example, the snare drum at 0:18 that leads into the verse doesn’t sound like a snare drum at all. It sounds like an explosion. I’m trying very hard not to launch into a rant about 1980s production methods, so I’ll focus on this particular song and keep listening to it. I don’t want to, but I will. (If Michael was kind enough to send it to me…)

0:18-0:37 – Oh this is horrible. What is that sound at 0:21½? It’s so unreal I can’t figure out what it is. I’m presuming a bank of synthesizers is creating most of the sounds I’m hearing. And one of those synthesizers goes subterranean at 0:25 which I found exceedingly non-pleasant, like a sudden dip on a rollercoaster. I sincerely hope I’m not going to spend the next few hours listening to this song and itemising everything about it that makes me go “Oh no”. I’ve just noticed the vocal melody – or lack of it. I can’t be too harsh here, because a song like “I’m Only Sleeping” (here we go with the comparisons) has an opening vocal melody that repeats one note. (It’s a John Lennon specialty. See “Help!“, “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds“, and “Julia” for prime examples).

0:37-0:56 – I think I just missed the chorus. Or this could be a double verse before the chorus. I guess if I listen long enough I’ll find out. (Note to self: Pay attention, Peter.)

It’s a double verse. Now that it’s getting embedded in my brain, it’s reminding me of something else – specifically, Ultravox’s “Dancing With Tears In My Eyes” Aaargh! Synth-pop! Aaargh! (“Dancing With Tears In My Eyes” is pretty catchy, though.)

0:56-1:22 – OK. This is the chorus. Wait a minute – I recognise this chorus. I’ve heard this song before. Unlike the dreadfulness of the previous 56 seconds, I’m enjoying this jaunty chorus. I’m also enjoying the “I Saw Her Standing There” bassline. (Note to self: Stop mentioning The Beatles.)

1:22-1:41 – Wow. That was a seamless transition from the chorus into the verse. I’ll go on record (tee hee) and say that it’s one of the best chorus/verse segues I’ve ever heard. However, spoiling my blissful reverie with that segue is the lyrics. Singing Chappy just sang “Gentle business man searching for his Peter Pan”. Maybe he’s not singing about what I think he’s singing about. (Er, clandestine meetings in the park after dark – if you know what I mean.) Maybe I’m completely wrong. It’s entirely possible that the “gentle business man” had a copy of the book, Peter Pan, but lost it, and is now looking for it somewhere. (“Searching for his Peter Pan“) The next line is “Nice house by the park, wrestles with an aching heart”. Oh-oh. I think I prefer to interpret that scenario as the gentle business man really missing his copy of the book. (Maybe it was annotated in his handwriting.)

1:41-2:07 – Next chorus. “Well she was just seventeen…”

2:07-2:14 – A fairly useless four bars of nothing in particular as we gear up for the middle eight.

2:14-2:26 – And a farly useless middle eight. To me it serves no purpose other than to be in the song because that’s where you put middle eights. (It’s always after the second chorus.) Incidentally, I think that’s a horrible guitar sound. (The producer did his or her best to make it sound as unlike a guitar as possible.)

2:26-2:33 – Another four bars, this time with singing (the last part of the verse), as we lead into…

2:33-2:45 – What is this? Is this another middle eight? The guitar is sounding even less like a guitar than it was earlier. (I didn’t think it was possible.) This part of the song is weird – with a capital W. From 2:39-2:45, some guy is singing low notes in a sort of “Doo Wop for the 80’s” style. Or is he trying to sing a kind of African chant? I don’t know. My mind is officially being blown here.

2:45-3:05 – We’re back in a verse. What just happened?

3:05-4:19 – Another chorus, repeated until it fades out. I still don’t know what happened.

I honestly don’t know what to say. That was weird.


Song of the day: Fischer-Z – "So Long"

July 29, 2009

I had completely forgotten about this song:

Fischer-Z* – “So Long” (1980)

Link

It may not look like a power pop song, but it sure sounds like one (or, more accurately, a skinny tie song).

Listening to it again, I was struck by how much that bass line reminds me of the bass line in “Our Lips Are Sealed” (1981) by The Go-Go’s. See what you think:

The Go-Go’s – “Our Lips Are Sealed (1981)

Link

Incidentally, the title “So Long” reminds me of ABBA‘s song of the same name (I wonder how many “So Long”s there are out there…). It’s a great** bit of rockin’ from the Spandex-wearin’, semi-bearded Fab Four in 1974:

ABBA – “So Long (1974)

Link

(*Not to be confused with Fisher-Price.)

(**Well, I would say that because I’m an ABBA nut.)