Frank’s Faves on Fridays – The Last Hurrah

March 4, 2011

With this week’s suggestions we say farewell to Frank’s Faves on Fridays. I must say that Frank’s suggestions over the past 47 weeks (yes, 47) have, for me, been never less than enlightening. As with other people’s tastes in music, I’ve loved listening to what tickles Frank’s musical fancy, and have been extremely grateful to Frank in allowing me to make facetious, fatuous, and fat-headed comments about songs he wanted other people to know about. To go out with a flourish, Frank sent me a heap of songs that focuses on something near and dear to his heart: Doo Wop. These songs are some of Frank’s all-time favourite Doo Wop tracks. He asked me to be gentle…

I must preface all of my comments today with the alarming admission that my entire Doo Wop knowledge is based on exactly two songs: “The Book Of Love” and “Why Do Fools Fall In Love“. Everything I know – or think I know – about Doo Wop derives from those two tracks. Now, I have no idea how close to real Doo Wop those two songs actually are, but, for good or ill, whenever someone talks about music and mentions “Doo Wop”, those are the two songs that instantly fill my head as I nod politely and pretend to know what the person’s talking about. In a situation similar to the old saying, “Everything tastes more or less like chicken,” my brain has always told me that all Doo Wop sounds more or less like those two songs. Because I’m remarkably ignorant about Doo Wop, I have a feeling that with your suggestions I’m going to get myself a nice introduction to what Doo Wop really is. Thanks, Frank, for enlightening me – and helping me (yet again) to become a little less ignorant about an aspect of popular music I know close to nothing about.

Now on to the music…

Carlo – “Ring A Ling” (1981 1963 1964)

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I tell ya, the Internet is such a fabulous resource. It allows people like me who know very little (about a lot of things) to find some information about some music or musicians, relay it to other people, and give the impression that people like me are terribly knowledgeable when they’re not at all. For instance, I just found out via Wikipedia that Carlo’s full name is Carlo Mastrangelo, that he was in Dion and the Belmonts (singing the bass vocal part), and that he released “Ring A Ling” in 1981. Up until about 10 minutes ago I had no idea about any of that. Now I can tell people what I found out just a few minutes ago, and they can marvel and whisper to themselves, “Wow, that Peter – he sure knows a lot about music,” to which I’ll think to myself “No I don’t.”

But enough of that. I’m now listening to “Ring A Ling”, and the singing in the introduction reminds me of “Why Do Fools Fall In Love”. (Excellent! My incredibly limited knowledge of Doo Wop – i.e., the two songs mentioned earlier – is paying off.) According to Wikipedia, this song comes from 1981, but I find that very hard to believe. For a start, it’s in mono, and as far as I’m aware nobody but nobody recorded in mono in 1981 – not even retro or revivalist acts. There’s a YouTube clip that says the song’s from 1964, and another one that say 1963. That’s more like it. Now to find the real date. (Unfortunately, the MP3 you supplied didn’t have a date in the tag.) The record label itself is no help, I’m afraid:

A couple of other YouTube clips state that the song was released in 1963, but this official-looking page listing all releases on the Laurie label says that it’s 1964. That’ll do.

I’m wasting way too much time on this. Back to the song…

I just noticed that those lovely bells at the start of the track are playing a proper tune: it’s the tune that England’s Big Ben plays every hour. Incidentally, that tune also pops up at the start of Cheap Trick’s “Clock Strikes Ten“. Getting back to “Ring A Ling” (focus, Peter, focus…), I like the Mrs Mills-ish tack piano solo (1:16-1:32). The bass vocalist is singing “dun, d-dun-dun, d-dun, d-dun-dun etc” very rapidly throughout the entire solo, and I was amazed he didn’t run out of breath. Wow, he has some stamina there. I liked Carlo’s vocal yelps (at 1:38 and 1:39) – they’re a lot of fun. (Plus I reckon that if there was anything in the recording that’d give away the date, it’d be those yelps – they’re very early-60’s.). All in all, I didn’t love “Ring A Ling”, but I did enjoy it. The most surprising thing I found about the track was the bass singing (all that “dun, d-dun-dun” stuff) – I was surprised at how loud it was compared to almost everything else on the record.

The Fascinators – “Chapel Bells” (1958)

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I liked this song much more than “Ring A Ling”. I don’t know why that would be so, because both songs adhere pretty closely to standard late-Fifties/early-Sixties song structures. Maybe “Chapel Bells’ feels more relaxed to me. No, that’s not it. Hmm. Maybe it’s the arpeggiated guitar part. Nope. I think it’s the lead vocal. I really like it. There’s a wonderful falsetto at 1:46. But just before that, when the music modulates (i.e., changes to a chord that isn’t in the song’s regular key), the ensemble singing is insecure, as if the singers are having trouble coping with the chord change. Come to think of it, the singing overall on this track isn’t completely secure. (Oh-oh: it’s nitpicking time.) The bass is a little wobbly with occasional pitch problems, and the lead singing is very, very (and I mean very) slightly flat throughout. To me, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s not flat enough to be a major nuisance, but it’s constantly a shade ‘under the note’ – which is probably what gives his voice an overall plaintive, or melancholy, feeling. I don’t find any of this terribly bothersome, but the vocals derail in a major way towards the end of the song. They finish with a flourish (starting at 2:09), with the lead chappy singing “Chapel” on his own, followed by the other guys singing “Bells” all together as they finish with a couple of fancy a cappella, Barbershop-style vocal changes. Unfortunately, when they all sing “Bells” at 2:11 it’s horribly out of tune, and when they get to the last chord they’re in tune (phew!) but it’s out of tune with the band as the band plays the song’s last chord (no!). But as for the entire experience of listening to this song, I’ll sum it up thus: a) Nice Song; b) Dodgy Singing.

The Imaginations – “Guardian Angel” (1961)

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OK. Now we’re back to the up-tempo stuff. Before I get to dismantling this song as well, I’d like to mention something very trivial and coincidental (but to me, fascinating): the lead singer of The Imaginations is Frank Mancuso. A character in a book I just finished reading (again) last week is also called Mancuso. The book is A Confederacy Of Dunces, and one of the characters in it is Angelo Mancuso, a policeman who suffers quite a few (comedic) indignities in the course of the story. I’d never seen the name “Mancuso” before until I read the book. (There’s not a large Italian-American contingent in South Australia, as far as I’m aware.) Now that I’ve wasted three minutes of your time reading about that coincidence, let’s move on to the song. I think I prefer this to the previous song (“Chapel Bells”). It’s certainly boppier. And the singing’s much sturdier. However, I must say that the MP3 you supplied was created with a dreadfully low bitrate. The low bitrate has given the track low, low sound quality. It sounds as if there’s a very quick vibrato applied to everything – especially the vocals. The result for me is highly undesirable. The singers sound like they’re singing into an electric fan. (You know that sound? When the fan’s on and you put your face up close to it, and when you talk you sound like a Dalek? No? You’ve never talked into an electric fan?) Or they sound as if they’re singing in a car while the car’s driving very fast on a very bumpy road.

[The dreadful-sounding MP3 that Frank sent me]
The Imaginations – “Guardian Angel” (1961)

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Anyway, I like “Guardian Angel” a lot. As a non-Doo-Wop expert, it’s everything I hoped a Doo Wop song would be. And I adore the nonsense vocals (“Ba-da, ba-da, boom-tee-ay, tee-ay”). I’m extremely glad you chose this as one of your Doo Wop suggestions. Viva Doo Wop!

The Paradons – “Diamonds And Pearls” (1960)

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Ah, a Doo Wop Ballad. And I’m enjoying it. Although I found a couple of things a little disconcerting (the not-always-fabulous lead singing, the background vocal “whoop-whoop-whoop-whoop-whoop-whoop”s) overall the experience was a rather pleasant one. I’m starting to like this Doo Wop caper. There’s not really a lot I can say about this track without going into excruciatingly boring detail about the tiniest things – but I’ve already done plenty of that with some of the other tracks here, and I don’t want your mind to wander and drift off into “I wonder what’s for dinner?” mode.

The Quotations – “Imagination (1961)

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I was singing along to this in no time at all. Out of all the tracks I’ve heard here so far, this would have to be my second-favourite (after “Guardian Angel”). I really liked the Frankie Valli-style singing in the middle eight. Thanks to the wonderful, wonderful Internet, I found out that “Imagination” was originally a 1940 song by Jimmy Van Heusen. Splendid. (Jimmy Van Heusen being the song’s author would explain why I think the lyrics are fabulous. I mean, how could you not love a song that ryhmes “silly” with “willy-nilly”?) I’ve never heard the original (at least I don’t think I’ve ever heard it before), but I must say that I think it sounds fabulous as a Doo Wop song.

The Stereos – “I Really Love You (1961)

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Great song. Great band name. When it started I thought this was going to be a novelty song, but as it went on I marvelled at its complexity. There are some unique vocalisations in there (they’re organised so imaginatively that I’d call them “choreographed vocals”). I could go on and on about the marvellousness of it all, but that would make this section of my commentary way too long. And you have better things to do.

Trivia Time I: For the second time in this list of suggestions, here’s another name coincidence… “I Really Love You” was written by someone called Leroy Swearingen. The only other time I’ve seen the name “Swearingen” is on the TV Western Deadwood, a program that – yep, you guessed it – I’ve been watching recently. (The character on the show is called Al Swearengen with an “e” – but that’s close enough for me.)

Trivia Time II: George Harrison covered “I Really Love You”. George’s version sounds like this. (For a George Harrison recording, I find it a bit weird. I can hear a lot of background vocals in this version of “I Really Love You”, but I can’t hear George in it at all.)

The Videos – “Trickle Trickle” (1958)

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Another great band name. I like this song a lot. This is a nice, boppy Doo Wopper. (Does the phrase “Doo Wopper” exist?) It drives along quite cheerfully and propulsively. The more I listen to this, the more I like it. Update: I’ve listened to it five times, and I now officially love it. Given a few more spins, I dare say that I’ll end up wanting to marry it. (Note to self: you’re already married, Peter. To a human.)

Thanks, Frank, for the chance to hear all that Doo Wop. It opened my ears in a very pleasant and grateful way. And thanks, too, for almost a year’s worth of suggestions (‘five songs per week’ x ’47 weeks’ = 235 songs). Splendid!

Postscript: Because I’m an incurable optimist, I’m hoping Frank is going to send me five more songs next week. You never know…

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Frank’s Faves on Fridays

February 25, 2011

Gleaming Spires – “Are You Ready For The Sex Girls” (1982)

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I’d never heard of a band called Gleaming Spires before. I was hoping that the name had something to do with architecture, but considering the name of this song, it may mean something a whole lot ruder (“gleaming spires“?). Another thing I found slightly bothersome was the possibly dubious grammar of the song’s title. Did the author of the song forget a comma? Is the singer asking some girls “Are you ready for the sex, girls?” or is the singer asking about “sex girls” (whatever they are)? And where’s the question mark? (Note to self: How about I just listen to song and find out for myself instead of typing time-wasting questions?) Apart from those completely pointless ruminations, I must admit that I find this song almost totally dreadful. It doesn’t work for me as satire, irony, kitsch, or even sarcasm. Anything. I don’t even like the tunes much. I’m going to listen to this three times (I have to), but my brain has already decided that after one listen it’s not going to like the next two spins. Update: I’ve now listened to it three times. I didn’t think it was possible, but I liked it even less after the third listen. The only phrase I can think of to describe my experience of this song is: “I endured it.” I’m looking forward to never hearing this song ever again.

Arlo Guthrie – “Deportees (1974)

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I don’t know why, but I didn’t enjoy this particular track anywhere near as much as I thought I was going to – even with Emmylou Harris‘ stellar backing vocals. I normally enjoy a bit of folk, but found this a tad annoying. I’m usually on board with social commentary in song, but I found this a little too earnest, or worthy. I have a vague feeling that I’m not supposed to criticise the lyrics because of the subject matter, but I didn’t respond to them with any of the sense of outrage and injustice that was probably intended. Maybe I just wasn’t in the mood for it. Maybe a part of me wanted to hear it sung by the song’s original author, Arlo’s father Woody. Now, that would have made it a real dustbowl song. But as it is, “Deportees” didn’t do much for me at all. However, it’s entirely possible that I’ll be in a folk mood next week. Or not.

The Hollies – “Step Inside” (1967)

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I’m going to get this criticism of The Hollies out of the way as quickly as possible: I’ve always – and I mean always – found The Hollies recordings to be too trebly. Or, putting it another way: every Hollies recording I’ve ever heard has sounded thin and high to me. (Recording engineers put it even more succinctly: “Too much top end, mate!”). OK. That’s my sole criticism of The Hollies. Everything else about The Hollies? Marvellous. I wanted to get the unpleasantness out of the way quickly, to minimise any potential vitriol (it’s sometimes perilous to criticise bands cherished by power pop fans who tend to have very strong views about their musical heroes). Now I can focus on the song itself. Being a casual fan of The Hollies (I’m nowhere near as rabid about them as a lot of other power pop fans are), I haven’t heard “Step Inside” before. I’m glad you chose this particular song, because I’m enjoying it enormously. Even on the first listen I discovered plenty of things in it that I can yak about. Unfortunately, those things aren’t particularly interesting, mainly because they’re predominantly about the production, not about the tunes or the singing or the overall performance or the song structure – you know, the stuff that matters. But I feel compelled to let you know about the things I found interesting because… well, because I found them interesting. To make this as un-boring as possible for you, I’ll try to itemise them briefly:

  1. I love the bass guitar sound. (Sorry about the bass-player talk coming up.) The Hollies’ bass player, Bernie Calvert, is playing with a pick and playing up close to the neck of his bass, giving it a unique, hollowed-out kind of sound. In the lead-up to the first chorus – from 0:49 to 0:58 – Bernie plays so close to the neck that the bass sound almost disappears completely (especially between 0:49 and 0:51). However, by the time he gets to that chorus (at 0:58), he’s moved his picking hand further away from the neck so that the bass sound comes back stronger. As a bass player, I find all of this intriguing. And I fully realise that absolutely nobody else will.
  2. There’s a wonderful stereo spread in the song up until the middle eight. Then it gets weird. At 1:12 the bass and drums both travel to the left channel and stay there for the entire middle eight. And also at 1:12, as the bass and drums are moving over to the left, there’s a tom-tom in the right channel. (Maybe it’s complaining about the rest of the drums being moved to the left channel.) But… just before the end of the middle eight (at 1:25), the stereo picture is suddenly restored to its original state (i.e., how it was when the song started). But then, puzzingly, during the guitar solo it reverts to the middle eight’s stereo picture (i.e., bass and drums in the left channel). Huh?
  3. I don’t know about you, but the sound of the guitar in the guitar solo reminds me an awful lot of George Harrison (i.e., Bearded Guru George, not Moptop George). To me, that’s the sound of a guitar being fed through a Leslie speaker. (George came to prefer that guitar sound in The Beatles’ latter days. You can hear the George Harrison Leslie Sound here.)
  4. During the guitar solo, and while the drums (and bass guitar) are still in the left channel, there’s a crash cymbal in the right channel at the start of every bar (except for the second bar of the solo, at 1:35 – I don’t know why the drummer, Bobby Elliott, didn’t hit the cymbal at the start of that bar). And at the end of the guitar solo, with the drums still in the left channel, there’s a snare drum fill in the right channel (1:47-1:49). Unusual.
  5. Going back to the middle eight momentarily, there’s an electric guitar playing in the background. That electric guitar part reminds me of the main guitar part in “Long Cool Woman In A Black Dress“. You can hear it more clearly in the second middle eight (from 1:49 to 2:00).
  6. The last chorus changes key by going up a semitone (at 2:32). The effect is like a burst of sunshine. Lovely.

Sorry if you found yourself yawning through most of that, but I found the song fascinating for its production. Oh, yeah – and I liked the song, too.

The Mascots – “Words Enough To Tell You” (1966)

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Before I had a listen to this song, I went a-roamin’ the Internet for some information. The Internet told me that The Mascots were a Swedish band from the 1960’s. I’m very interested in hearing this song. The Internet also told me this:

The song “Words Enough To Tell You” was written for a special occasion. The magazine Bildjournalen held in 1965 a competition for the best pop song. The entries (in addition to the Mascots, the Shanes and Merrymen were in the competition) were released on a flexi-record and included in the newspaper like a supplement. The readers voted, and the Mascots won the competition! “Words. . .” was released on vinyl a year later, but it was a bit late by then!

I love the Internet.

Now to listen to the song. (Note to self: press “play”, Peter.) Okey dokey. I’m now listening to The Mascots’ “Words Enough To Tell You” and I’m thinking of one word, and that word is “excellent”. It’s yet another example of how the British Invasion affected pretty much every country on Earth that had musical groups in it. I love how these Swedish chaps sing the word “rather” (at 0:09) with the decidedly upper-class English intonation instead of the standard American-English. In other words, they sing “rah-ther” with an elongated “rahhhh” as in a cheerleader’s “rah-rah” instead of the short, straight, up-and-down “ra” as in “rapscallion”. I love the pronunciation because: a) you very rarely hear it in songs; and b) that’s the way I talk. (Although I’m not an upper-class Englishman, I say “fah-ther”, “fah-ster”, “mah-ster”, “pah-sta” etc.) Although I’m enjoying this song a great deal, I think that as far as non-British British Invasion bands go, The Mascots aren’t a patch on Uruguay’s Los Shakers. (Los Shakers had fabulous Beatles songs with great tunes.) But as for this song by The Mascots, I’m loving it. It’s a wonderfully easy-going, acoustic-guitar-based, mid-tempo Beatles song not by The Beatles. Yum.

Bonus instrumental:

The Bar-Kays – “Soul Finger (1967)

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This track, to me, is almost The Ultimate Soul Compendium. It perfectly encapsulates 60’s Soul because I think it sounds like every 60’s Soul song ever recorded crammed into one two-and-a-half-minute song. A riff from somewhere, a rhythm from somewhere else, brass playing from somewhere else again, you name it – if it appeared in a Soul song in the 60’s, I reckon it ended up in “Soul Finger”. Mighty good. If any young person out there says, “Yeah, I’ve heard about Soul music – what does it sound like?”, I recommend you simply put on “Soul Finger”. Easy.


Frank’s Faves on Fridays

February 18, 2011

I’m quite happy to call this week’s suggestions “Frank’s Faves on Fridays: The Girl Edition”. And I’m going to try to be much more succinct this week, because my comments have been getting way out of hand lately. (Last week’s efforts – especially the first two – were such marathon essays that I wouldn’t wish them on anybody. I can’t even imagine anybody having the patience, or the inclination, to read all of that nonsense. And now I’m prattling on again… Stop it, Peter.)

Lesley Gore – “That’s The Way Boys Are” (1964)

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This song gets my vote for Best Use Of Hand Claps In A Pop Song. I love this song. However, in the lyrics I wasn’t especially keen on Lesley wanting to die (“When I’m with my guy and he watches all the pretty girls go by-yi-yi / And I feel so hurt deep inside, I wish that I could die-i-i”). But I guess when you’re a teenager, everything becomes a matter of life and death (as in: “How COULD he???” or “He LEFT me!!!” or “My life is RUINED!!!” etc). Aurally, the most notable aspect of this song for me is that I think it sounds exactly like a Phil Spector song but without the army of musicians that Phil Spector employed on his productions. (“That’s The Way Boys Are” is sort of Spector-Lite.) But it doesn’t matter to me that Phil Spector had nothing to do with this song. I love it.

Phoebe Snow – “Poetry Man” (1974)

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Nice. Sensitive. Poetic. Etc. Actually, the instrumental backing from the musicians is much busier than I remembered: the acoustic guitarist’s fingers are very frisky; there’s plenty of triangle action; someone’s fiddling with various small cymbals (possibly thumb cymbals); someone’s playing a cabasa throughout the entire song (well, I think it’s a cabasa); there’s a saxophone solo (accompanied by synthesizers); a harp pops up from time to time. That’s a lot of instrumentation there. As for the song, I sort of like it. When I’m listening to it, I get the sensation that it’s static, and not moving forward as songs usually do (i.e., a song that starts, progresses a while, and then finishes). This song just sits still, and I find that disconcerting. As for the singing: I must admit that I don’t like Phoebe Snow’s voice, but I think she’s a great singer. (I feel the opposite about Whitney Houston: a great voice but a dreadful singer.)

Connie Francis – “Don’t Ever Leave Me” (1964)

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I enjoyed this, but I kept comparing it to Lesley Gore’s excellent song. (I try not to compare your suggestions to each other, but Lesley’s and Connie’s songs are in very similar territory.) It’s an enjoyable Forlorn Teenage Girl song, but it’s no “That’s The Way Boys Are”. I did like “Don’t Ever Leave Me” (and the tack piano solo, which I thought was unusual for this kind of ditty), but for me it didn’t have that extra something that elevates it to Great Song status. The singing was OK, the playing was OK, the production was OK etc. It was OK.

Carole King – “Sweet Seasons” (1971)

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When this song started, I thought I was going to hear “Thank You Being A Friend” by Andrew Gold. But then it got going and the bass-playing (and its tone) made the song sound a bit Motown-ish. And as it was tootling along, it also reminded me of Fleetwood Mac‘s “Say You Love Me“. I can’t really think of much to say about “Sweet Seasons”. It doesn’t do much for me. As I was listening to it I was waiting for a great Carole King chorus to appear, but it never did. Ah, well. Carole’s written plenty of great songs elsewhere. I don’t know why – maybe it’s because I was listening to a female singer-songwriter – but as I was listening to “Sweet Seasons” I wanted to listen to Karla Bonoff’s “Lose Again”. Actually, I think I will:

[A non-Frank suggestion]
Karla Bonoff – Lose Again (1977)

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Now, listening to that song reduces me to a puddle of goo. Every single time.

Uninteresting Admission: I’ve never owned or listened to Carole King’s unbelievably successful Tapestry, an album that is apparently owned by every person in the English-speaking world over the age of 45. Except me.

Bonus instrumental:

The Nirvana Sitar And String Group – “Sunday Will Never Be The Same” (1968)

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This is without a doubt the most bizarre thing you’ve ever sent me. I have to get my hands on the album*. It’s been a long time since I’ve heard that many musical instruments out of tune in the one song. (I know that sitars often play microtones, but acoustic guitars and basses don’t.) That acoustic guitar is the most out-of-tune instrument of any instrument I have ever heard on a recording. I was amazed by the audacity of the musicians just playing that one tune over and over again. Once they’d finish the eight bars of the tune, they’d go back to the start and just play it again – with no variation (well, none that I could detect). Actually, that’s not strictly true – they did put a middle eight in the song (from 0:38 to 0:57), but it wasn’t that much different from the tune they played over and over again. The musicians may have put another middle eight in the song, but it’s hard to tell. Overall, I found the whole thing mind-numbing. And astounding. I laughed out loud when the musicians presented the song’s false ending (starting at 2:05, or 2:07, or 2:09 – I just can’t tell when they start that false ending), and then started up again, playing that tune over and over again. Excellent.

Update: Fabulously informative commenter Old_Davy (howdy, young ‘un!) has told me (and you) that The Nirvana Sitar And String Group track is actually a cover of a song by Spanky And Our Gang. Here’s the original for comparison:

[A non-Frank suggestion]
Spanky And Our Gang – “Sunday Will Never Be The Same” (1967)

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(*Done.)


Frank’s Faves on Fridays

February 11, 2011

Extreme – “Rest In Peace (1992)

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When that string quartet started in the introduction (note to self: where else would it start, idiot?), I was pretty sure that I’d heard that chord progression before somewhere. I couldn’t figure out where, though. It’s a fairly common chord progression, and plenty of people have used it, so I guess I don’t need to get het up about it (do people still use the phrase “het up”?). Anyway, while I was trying to figure out where I’d heard that chord progression before, the band known as Extreme started up and did what they’re known for doing: instrumental noodling. (In this case, it’s some Hendrix-ish noodling – but you knew that already, because you’ve heard the song.). It was such a departure from what the strings had been playing that I was left wondering why on Earth Extreme had put a relatively restrained – dare I say “tasteful” – string quartet in at the beginning. It had nothing to do with the rest of the song. No, wait… Ah, I see what they’ve done. Extreme used the string-quartet-in-the-introduction chord progression in the song’s choruses. (This is one of the disadvantages of typing while you’re listening to a song instead of listening to the whole song and then typing about it.) Fair enough. It’s understandable for a band to start their song with the chorus (it tends to be the catchiest part of the song after all), but why start it without the chorus’s melody? And why have it performed by a string quartet? Despite all of those imponderables, I’m starting to like this song. It sort of sounds like an 80’s hair metal band playing a standard strutting hair metal song with a bit of power pop thrown in. The strutting hair metal part of the song is OK, but I like the power pop parts (the vocal harmonies). I didn’t like the guitar solo, though. I thought it was pointless noodling. But then the noodling made way for some of that Hendrix-style playing that the band started their part of the song with (after the string quartet had played their wordless chorus). I thought it was a little cheeky of Extreme’s guitar player to quote some actual Hendrix (“Voodoo Child [Slight Return]“). But what’s with the acoustic guitar and bird sounds (as if the band suddenly found themselves outdoors) in the last minute of the song? I don’t get it. For me, if there’s something in a song – any song – I like there to be a reason for it to be there. Otherwise, I’ll spend way too much wondering why a musician (or producer) put it there. Now, as you know, I try to listen to a song at least three times to really get to know it. Because the thing is six minutes long (about four minutes longer than I thought it needed to be), it was a bit of a chore to get through three times. But I did listen to it three times. On the second listen, I paid attention to the lyrics more – but was not glad that I did. Also this time around, I noticed the guitar noodling during the verses, and found it irritating. On the third listen, I heard something that I hadn’t noticed at all the first two times: a child saying “Ban the Bomb” when the band pauses between 1:48 and 1:50. I suppose it’s because of the lyrical concerns in the song (i.e., war) that it was put in there. But it’s an odd thing to put in a hair metal song. All in all, I’d say that this song was an interesting diversion. (It certainly kept me busy for about an hour, typing a heap of nonsense about it.) By the way, I heard something in the MP3 you supplied that I haven’t heard in ages. Whoever originally ripped that track from CD didn’t notice that the CD had a scratch in it. As a result, there’s a digital glitch at the 33-second mark in the track. I was going to replace it with a clean copy of the track, but then it wouldn’t have given me the opportunity to say “Hey, there’s a digital glitch in an MP3!”.

David Werner – “Every New Romance” (1979)

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After the marathon effort with that Extreme song (“Extreme” indeed), it was nice to get back to a regular, three-minute ditty. (Adopting Crotchety Old Man voice: “The way things used to be, before all that Hippity-Hop, and all that Grudge music, and all those Elmo kids with their sad Elmo music, and all that doof-doof music, and all those shrieking harpies…”) Oh-oh. I’ve just noticed: this song is five-and-a-half minutes long. What are you doing, Frank? Is this the week you’re going to throw epics at me? Will I be able to make shorter comments about longer songs? Am I ever going to finish this post? (Another note to self: calm down, Peter. It’s only a song. It’ll finish eventually, and then you’ll get to hear another one.) Back to the track… I thought this song by David Werner was going to be a New Wave synth-driven thingy (à la Howard Jones) but then the guitars cranked up and I realised: “Er, it’s not a New Wave synth-driven thingy.” It’s more Gary Numan than Howard Jones. I went looking for more information about David Werner and this song (I’d never heard of David Werner before – or at least I don’t think I’ve ever heard of him), and all sources I found say that his music is Glam Rock. I’d sort of go along with that. I guess. (I don’t think the song is especially Glammy. Well, not very anyway.) Incidentally, I found the album that this song appears on. The album is from 1979, it’s self-titled (i.e., David Werner), and it’s available over at the Power Pop Criminals blog. 1979’s a bit late for Glam isn’t it? That’s when Gary Numan et al came along, with loads of people sounding like robots with guitars (the Robots-With-Guitars sound). I thought Glam slinked off into the distance by about 1975 at the very latest. I’ve just realised that all this pondering is beside the point. The point here is to listen to this song by David Werner. Right. The song. Focus, Peter, focus. I’m listening to it now, and I can hear the Glam elements in it, but I can also hear the Robots-With-Guitars elements, too. I must admit that the very first vocal utterance in the song (David singing, in a rather Stentorian way, “I” at 0:42) made me laugh out loud and I had to stop the song. Once I had regained my composure, I played the song from the start again, got to the 42-second mark, heard David sing “I” and laughed out loud again. I started the song for the third time, got to David singing, and laughed out loud for the third time. This is terribly unprofessional of me. I’m supposed to be listening dispassionately to a track and analysing it, noting things that are noteworthy, giving my considered opinion etc., and all I can do is giggle at a man pretending to sound important. Or forceful. Or something. Right. Here we go for the fourth time. I’ll keep going this time. I’m listening to it now and thinking that David’s vocals are Glam, but they don’t suit the song. Oh, no. Not again. I just heard a sort of “Aaah” (at 0:56) after David sang “every new romance” and laughed out loud at it. But I’m ploughing ahead. I’m determined to listen to this song all the way through without stopping it every 30 seconds. I’ve just come to the chorus, and the tenor saxophone at 1:19 reminds me a lot of David Bowie‘s “Young Americans“. (Why do tenor saxophones in rock songs always remind me of “Young Americans”?) There’s another one of those silly “Aaah”s at 2:05. And there’s an even sillier “Hey” at 2:09. It’s all getting too much. I don’t know if I’ll be able to listen to this song three times in a row. I might have to listen to your other suggestions and come back to it later. Incredibly trivial sidenote: when David sings the word “romance” at 2:22 he sounds to me like Nick Lowe. (But that’s the only place in the entire song where David sounds remotely like Nick Lowe.) Do I want to point out the slightly daft falsetto singing at 2:42? No, I don’t think I do. Let’s move on. Now there’s a middle-eight that sounds as if it doesn’t belong in the song (well, it doesn’t to me). But at least it’s short. And now there are some weird female background vocals. And that saxophone is still squawking away in the background. This song is getting stranger and stranger. And now there’s a guitar solo. Why? Now the song has finally finished by dissolving into synthesizer sound effects. No, wait. The synthesizers have gone away, and now there’s a classical guitar playing something moody, but that’s been stopped by the sound of castanets. What??? I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore… (Actually I don’t think David Werner was ever a member of Kansas. Boom boom!) If I have a spare few hours, I might get back to this song, but for the love of mercy I’ll stop commenting on it right now. (I have to. Otherwise, I won’t get anything else done today.)

Sun 60 – “Tuff To Say” (1993)

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Egad! Another five-and-a-half-minute song. (I’m hoping that the last three minutes of it is a very long fade-out.) However, it is my sworn duty to listen to it all, so I will. This is like a slow power pop song, and I don’t mind it at all. Actually, I quite like it – except for the extra-long guitar solo. In order to not waste your time any more than I have already (see above), I’ll make it brief and say that I like this song. The voices, melodies, harmonies, playing etc, are all enjoyable.

Laura Warman – “Impossible To Love You” (1980)

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Yuck. In this song, Laura sings “it’s all too impossible to love you.” Well, I find this song almost impossible to like. From the synthesizer parts and the drum beat to Laura’s voice and flat singing, I’m not liking this at all. I want to make a special mention of Laura’s vocal phrasing. I think it’s awful. And I don’t mean that it fills me with awe. The more I’m listening to this song, the more dreadful I’m finding it. I’m very pleased that it lasts only 3:33.

Bonus instrumental (sort of):

Cream – “Cat’s Squirrel” (1966)

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Although you’ve provided this track as an instrumental, Jack Bruce does say (repeatedly) “Alright, alright, alright…” at one point. But you’re right, Frank. It’s an instrumental. And I like it. Teenage confession time: I had Cream’s Disraeli Gears on vinyl when I was younger, and played it a lot – but that was the only Cream album I had, and I’ve pretty much forgotten those Cream songs (and any others I may have heard in the past), so this “Cat’s Squirrel” thing (what a wonderfully bizarre name for a piece of music) is something new to me. When it started, I was a bit concerned that the sound only came from the right channel. Just as I was beginning to wonder if I need to find a different MP3 of this track, a guitar and harmonica appeared simultaneously (guitar in the left channel, harmonica in the centre), and everything was fine.

Thanks (mostly) for this week’s suggestions, Frank. And sorry about the amount of time it would have taken you to read my responses.


Frank’s Faves on Fridays – The Folk Edition

February 4, 2011

Gale Garnett – “We’ll Sing In The Sunshine (1964)

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I’ve never heard of the artist or the song before. (But I have heard of The Kingston Trio and The New Christy Minstrels. Can I call myself a Folk expert now?) The only other person named “Gale” spelled that way that I know of was the actor Gale Gordon from The Lucy Show. But on to the song… Wow. That is so pleasant. (That’s a compliment.) Wow again: it’s just dawned on me – I know this song! I don’t know if it was this version (is this the only one?), but I know this song. I remember hearing it years and years ago. (Maybe this is the version I heard.) I just adore how relaxed the backing instrumentation is. I think it’s perfect for the song. I’m trying really hard to come up with something more to say about “We’ll Sing In The Sunshine”, but I can’t think of anything. It’s just so enjoyable. By the way, the cover I found to put in the MP3 features a young (and possibly winsome) Gale Garnett, and I reckon she looks a bit like Liv Tyler in that photo. See what you think:

The Kingston Trio – “A Worried Man” (1959)

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Excellent – banjos. I’ve heard of The Kingston Trio but have never gotten around to hearing any of their gazillion albums. (They released a lot of albums – for example, from 1960 to 1963 they released three albums a year.) I’m enjoying this track, but nowhere near as much as “We’ll Sing In The Sunshine” (it’s going to take a pretty special song to top that this week). I don’t know how disturbing you find this, but when the chorus began at the start of the song I thought I was listening to Peter, Paul, and Mary. I know that The Kingston Trio comprises three manly men, but the voice in the right channel sounds definitely female to me. Apart from that, I just noticed that the opening tune played by the banjo reminds me of that old spiritual “This Little Light Of Mine” (which, coincidentally, The Kingston Trio also recorded). Listening to “A Worried Man” properly (i.e., actually paying attention to it), I think that I like the lyrics more than the music. My favourite line in the song: “I’m a worried man, but I won’t be worried long.” That’s reassuring. And now it’s trivia time. I heard something in this song that I never thought I’d ever hear in a Folk song – I heard a mistake. Someone (in the right channel) misses the first word of a line in one of the choruses. It occurs at 1:54. I’m gobsmacked. (But the song’s nice.)

The New Christy Minstrels – “Green, Green” (1963)

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Excellent – a twelve-string acoustic guitar. That’s some raunchy solo singing from the male person in the band. He really does give the impression that “there ain’t nobody in this whole wide world a-gonna tell me how to spend my time”. He’s a rugged individualist. In a band. Despite the incongruity of a rugged individualist in a band, I like “Green, Green” more than “A Worried Man”, but not because of the lyrical content. (I wouldn’t be terribly keen to tell people: “Oh, yeah – I really like a worried man.” I don’t think that people would automatically put capital letters on A Worried Man and assume that I’m talking about a song, but instead they’d probably think that I like seeing people miserable. So I guess I won’t say out loud that “I like a worried man.”) Where was I? “Green, Green”. OK. Pluses: 1) the backing vocals – love ’em; 2) that twelve-string acoustic guitar – marvellous; 3) the rugged individualist singer – great stuff. Now on to the minuses: Er, I can’t think of any.

The Springfields – “Silver Threads And Golden Needles (1962)

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I’m glad you chose this. I must admit that I’m not overly familiar with this particular version (I’ve probably heard it once or twice way back in the mists of time). I’m much more used to the Linda Ronstadt version (courtesy of my teenage infatuation with Ms Ronstadt). But regardless of who’s version it is, I’ve always thought that this song is lovely. And I think that this song is probably impervious to bad cover versions (overall I’ve heard about four so far, and I think they’re all good). But I must say something about the MP3 that you sent me. It sounds weird. And on headphones, it sounds very weird. I have a horrid feeling that this is one of those ghastly fake stereo things (i.e., a mono song that’s been phase-shifted or something). But back to the song itself. I’d never noticed it before, but there’s a line in the chorus where Dusty (she of The Springfields) sings “…while you play your cheatin’ game.” That reminds me of “Your Cheatin’ Heart” – what a song that is. (Note to self: get back to talking about “Silver Threads And Golden Needles”.) Okey dokey. The song. For a Folk song (or maybe it’s a Country song), it sure does swing. That drummer sounds like he or she is having a whale of a time. (Where on Earth did the phrase “whale of a time” come from? It doesn’t make any sense to me whatsoever. I think that when I’ve finished this email I’m going to pester the Internet for some information about time and whales.) To conclude this rambling commentary, I’ll say that I like The Springfields’ version of “Silver Threads And Golden Needles” – but I like Linda Ronstadt’s version much, much more.

Update: If you can’t bear to hear that fake stereo version of “Silver Threads And Golden Needles” (and I’ll understand completely if you can’t), here’s a freshly minted (translation: I just found it) mono version – the way it was supposed to be heard in the first place:

The Springfields – “Silver Threads And Golden Needles (1962) (mono – yay!)

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Bonus Folk instrumental:

The Village Stompers – “Washington Square (1963)

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Hey, I know this piece of music! It didn’t look familiar at all (The Village Stompers? – never heard of ’em; “Washington Square”? – no idea), but as soon as it started I recognised that banjo tune (and I started humming along with it, too). I don’t know where or when I first heard “Washington Square”, but I know it very well. Maybe it’s one of those songs that was played on the radio when I was a wee bairn. (Let’s see: it was released in 1963, and probably played on Australian radio in 1964. I was born in 1961, so that would have made me three years old when I first heard it.) Ah, the music you remember when you’re a kiddy! I have nothing but praise for this track. (It’s a part of my childhood. And because I had a very enjoyable childhood, I won’t be knocking this song one bit.) Oh, no – as I was typing this paragraph, the track finished. I’m going to have to play it again. Hang on… Yep, I’m playing it again. I love that discordant introduction on the banjo before it plays the proper tune. I also love whoever is playing the spoons in the left channel. And I love that you suggested this track. There’s a lotta love here, Frank! Thanks, thanks, thanks.

Pointless postscript: When I’d finished checking the dates for this week’s songs (I like to keep MP3s nice ‘n’ tagged), I noticed how they were all recorded in and around the early 1960s. It looks like the early ’60s was a good time for Folk.


Frank’s Faves on Fridays

January 28, 2011

Mountain – “Never In My Life” (1970)

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Excellent! I’ve heard about Mountain, but never actually heard any of their music until now. (They were one of those heavy rock bands from America that nobody bothered to play on Australian radio.) Now that I’m listening to it, I can say that I think this is the ultimate Hairy Rocker song. “Never In My Life” seems to be the perfect example as to why music of the early 70’s tends to be either loved or loathed, with no middle ground. I’m in the love-it camp. And I can see why someone would hate his song – it’s Big, Loud, and Dumb. But that’s exactly why I love it. There’s absolutely no pretension to it whatsoever. It just is what it is. (Big, Loud, and Dumb.) And as I was typing that last sentence, the song faded out. Nooooooooo! That finished way too soon. Time to play it again. But louder this time.

Procol Harum – “Whisky Train” (1970)

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I’ve heard very little of Procol Harum (dribs and drabs here and there), but I like very much what I heard over the years. I just never got around to buying any of their stuff. So I guess I can call myself a Procol Harum fan with no Procol Harum albums. Now to “Whisky Train”. For a prog-rock band, Procol Harum sure aren’t sounding very proggy here. They’re sounding very bluesy-rocky. That’s probably because of the band’s guitarist Robin Trower and his “I love Jimi Hendrix, and I can sound just him!” inclinations. I’m listening to “Whisky Train” at the moment, and enjoying it, but I can’t quite figure out why the keyboardist (presumably Gary Brooker) gave his piano the ol’ thumbtacks-on-the-hammers treatment. But that didn’t stop me enjoying the song. Though not as much as the Mountain song above. (Love that Mountain song. Big! Loud! Dumb!)

Uninteresting sidenote: If you had suggested Procol Harum’s “Conquistador” instead of “Whisky Train”, this part of my comments today would have been a whole lot longer. I adore “Conquistador”, totally and unconditionally, ever since I heard it on a jukebox in a pub years and years ago. It blew my mind.

Shawn Colvin – “Polaroids” (1992)

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I know next to nothing about Shawn Colvin. I haven’t played the song yet, so I don’t know what I’m letting myself in for. As far as I’m aware, he’s a sort of contemporary folk singer, isn’t he? At least I think he is. Well, there you go – I’ve just discovered that Shawn Colvin is a female. Oops. Sorry about that, Shawn. OK. Now to the song. Shawn’s voice (and the song) reminds me a lot of Deb Talan‘s in the folk-pop-folk duo The Weepies.

Another uninteresting sidenote: when I first heard The Weepies second album, Say I Am You (2006) I fell hopelessly in love with it. Here are the first three tracks from the album to give you an idea of why I fell hopelessly in love with Say I Am You:

[Non-Frank tracks]
The Weepies – Say I Am You (2006):
Track 1: “Take It From Me”

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Track 2: “Gotta Have You”

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Track 3: “World Spins Madly On”

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But back to the song (again). I think “Polaroids” is a nice enough song. But I thought Shawn overused the main melody in the verse. However, I really like how the song was produced. There are some lovely little production touches throughout the track (little pedal steel guitar asides, and some sort of ship’s-horn-in-the-distance kind of sound near the end of the song). I think that’s what I like most about this song: how it sounds. The acoustic guitars, the bass guitar, the brushes on the drums etc, the discreet use of synthesizer – it all sounds great, and it’s all used sparingly and with wonderful taste. Now, that’s something you don’t how a lot of nowadays in records: taste. Overall, I’ve liked this song the more I listened to it. Nice. (But I’d much rather listen to The Weepies.)

Van Halen – “Secrets (1982)

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I’m one of those people who has been a lifelong fan of Van Halen. No, that’s not strictly true. I’ve been a David-Lee-Roth-long fan of Van Halen. Interest in them tapered rather quickly when thingy joined. I’ve forgotten his name. That red-haired guy. Um. Ah. Hang on… Yes, that’s it: Sammy Hagar. (Thank you, Internet.) I started losing interest in Van Halen when Sammy joined the band – although I did like 5150 and, to a lesser extent, OU812. After that, though, I stopped listening to them completely. I must admit that I only ever got around to buying two Van Halen albums: Diver Down and 1984. (Diver Down is probably my favourite solely because of “Little Guitars“.) The others I borrowed and taped (hooray for cassettes!). But none of this is letting you know what I think of “Secrets”. It took me a moment to realise that “Secrets” is on Diver Down (as in: “Hmm, I think ‘Secrets’ is on Diver Down. I’ll just saunter on over to the CD collection and check… Yep, it’s on Diver Down. Good-o.”). Okey dokey. I like “Secrets”, although I’ve always been mildly puzzled by how mild it is (for a Van Halen track). Actually, I reckon if you had suggested any other song from Diver Down I would have gone “Yeah! Van Halen! Rockin’ out! Yeah!” – but you didn’t, so I won’t. I will say that although I like “Secrets”, it’s probably my least favourite track on Diver Down. Oh, and seeing as you’ve suggested a Van Halen track, I’d like to take this opportunity to vent my spleen on one aspect of Van Halen that I’ve always found absolutely horrendous: their drum sound. I think Van Halen’s drum sound is simply dreadful. Always has been – and probably always will be. (I think it’s one of those constants in the music universe.) And because I’ve just mentioned that I think Van Halen’s drum sound is dreadful, I’d also like to mention Queen‘s drum sound. I think that’s horrendous, too. But I’m pleased to say that Queen and Van Halen are the only two bands I know of that have monumentally awful drum sounds.

Bonus instrumental:

Apollo 100 – “Joy” (1972)

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Splendid. (I wanted to say “excellent” but I’ve already used that word.) For me, this is the kind of pillaging-the-classics tune that’s on the right side of cheesy. (That is, on the fun side – not the “that’s horrible!” side). It helps that the artists involved pinched a great tune (which isn’t difficult to do, because classical music is full of great tunes – which reminds me to play you some sometime). I’m extremely familiar with Apollo 100’s “Joy”, as it’s on that mammoth Have A Nice Day: Super Hits Of The ’70s 25-disc set I rabbited on about a while ago. (In case you’re wondering, “Joy” is Disc 7, Track 9). I don’t know if I need to mention the classical tune that Apollo 100 nicked for their track (Johann Sebastian Bach‘s “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring“), because you probably know that anyway. Regardless, I’m glad you suggested “Joy”. I think it’s a heap of musical fun. By the way, another rock musician filched Bach’s tune, and I mentioned it in a previous post on the blog.


Frank’s Faves on Fridays

January 21, 2011

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

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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.