Educating Peter # 33

February 3, 2013

Due to some rather hefty acts of nature (floods), my usual supplier of 1980s songs has been unable to send me anything this week. Michael has had his Internet access interrupted due to the aforementioned acts of nature, but I dare say Michael has been too busy fighting deluges, torrents, and general aquatic unhelpfulness to worry about things of miniscule importance like someone’s music blog.

Michael did manage to get a hold of me with his mobile phone. (That’s what we call them in Australia – apparently folks in the Northern hemisphere tend to call them cell phones, but that just makes me think that people use “cell phones” from a jail cell.)

During our conversation, whilst Michael was holding back walls of water with his bare hands, he suggested I make this week’s Educating Peter a continuation of last week’s Educating Peter.

So that’s what ahm a-gonna do.

Last week’s instalment in this series was “I Can’t Stand To Reminisce” by Karla DeVito.

Here’s a reminder:

Karla DeVito – “I Can’t Stand To Reminisce” (1981)

Link

Well, after that post was, er, posted, astute commenter Fitzall (Hi, OneSize!) let Michael and me (and you) know that the Karla DeVito song was in fact a cover version of a song by The Hitmen, and it was originally called “I Still Remember it”.

Rather than adding it to that old, old post (a week is a very long time on the Internet), and not being noticed by anyone, Michael and I agreed that we might as well post it separately.

So here’s the song again, this time in its original form:

The Hitmen – “I Still Remember It” (1980)

Link

0:00-0:16 – This is much better. Unlike the Karla DeVito version, I can quite easily listen to this all day long. (But I don’t have to, because it only goes two-and-a-half minutes.)

Introduction Trivia: For a straight-ahead four-beats-in-the-bar power pop song, the song’s introduction has a slightly unusual structure. Before the band comes in properly (at 0:05), the piano plays four bars, but that fourth bar is in 2/4, meaning it has two beats in the bar. The first three bars are 4/4, so the piano introduction is (if you want to count along with it):

1, 2, 3, 4
1, 2, 3, 4
1, 2, 3, 4
1, 2

And then band kicks in with the rest of the introduction (for eight bars, all of them 4/4).

I’m only mentioning this because songs like these (i.e., standard, regulation, nothing-out-of-the-ordinary power pop songs) are pretty much exclusively in 4/4, and I found it out of the ordinary. I don’t know why the piano player decided to shorten that bar before the band started playing.

0:16-0:47 – I much prefer this singer’s voice to that of Karla DeVito’s. I don’t mind Ms DeVito’s, but I didn’t think it suited the song. (Yes, I’m afraid I’m probably going to spend the rest of this post comparing the two songs.)

Before I go on, I’d like to mention a few things things:

1. I prefer the sound of all the instruments in this version compared to those in KDeV’s.

2. I really like the little guitar part from 0:21-0:22 in the right channel. It’s played here and there in the rest of the song, but you can hear it most clearly here.

3. I like how the verse and chorus are played as one, with the chorus sounding like it’s a natural extension of the verse. It sounds nicely organic to me, rather than listening to it and thinking “Oh, someone wrote a verse, then wrote a chorus, and then just put the two together”.

4. I like the tubular bell at 0:42 to let you know the chorus has finished.

0:47-1:15 – Compared to last week’s ordeal, I’m not minding this version at all. I didn’t even mind the cute little ascending synthesizer note (1:06-1:09).

Yep. I’m enjoying this.

1:15-1:34 – A nice middle eight to prevent potential monotony, and it segues well into the chorus (from 1:27). And there’s that cute ascending synthesizer again, from 1:29-1:31.

Incidentally, at 1:31 there’s a quick handclap. I thought it was an odd place to put it in the song, but maybe it was there to stop the synthesizer.

1:34-1:35 – The band stops, the singers sing, and it’s time for…

1:35-1:46 – The guitar solo. It’s well-thought-out. I like it.

1:46-2:04 – A variation on the chorus, featuring the line “Can you wait for me like she do?”, which is much preferable to Karla DeVito’s “Do you ape for me like he do?”.

2:04-2:23 – The tubular bell goes “ding!” at 2:04, and the band plays the “I still remember it” part of the chorus until it’s time to end the song.

2:23-2:26 – The band plays the last chord, letting their instruments fade until…

2:26-2:28 – A magnificent bit of very simple drumming, followed by…

2:28-2:30 – The entire band going “bang!”.

By the way, that last “bang!” by the band reminded me of a “bang” that starts another song.

This…

The Hitmen – “I Still Remember It” (1980) (the bang at the end)

Link

…reminds me of this:

10cc – “Good Morning Judge (1977) (the bang at the beginning)

Link

Here’s all of “Good Morning Judge”:

10cc – “Good Morning Judge (1977)

Link

Stay dry, Michael!

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Educating Peter # 32

January 27, 2013

The Cavalcade of Calamity List of 1980s Songs Peter’s Never Heard Of continues to grow with this latest suggestion by Michael in his efforts to edumacate me.

This time it’s Karla DeVito‘s 1981 song, “I Can’t Stand To Reminisce”.

(In response to the song titled, I was going to say “When it comes to 1980s songs, me too” – but that’s a very cheap joke.)

Instead of boring you with information about Ms. DeVito you probably already know, I’ll dive right in:

Karla DeVito – “I Can’t Stand To Reminisce” (1981)

Link

0:00-0:12 – Oh dear.

Straight away I’m thinking “This is definitely not the song for me”. Within three seconds I was thinking two incongruous things:

1. Elvis Costello; and
2. music for exercising

As far as I’m concerned, those two thoughts are mutually exclusive. They should never appear in a person’s brain at the same time, otherwise they could lead to visions of Elvis Costello exercising. [Shudder]

0:12-0:13 – “Twistin’, turnin’…”

Ewww. Yuck. Yuck. Yu-hu-hu-hu-uck.

0:13-0:15 – “Watch a-me burghghghghgh-nin’…”

This. Is. Horrible.

0:15-0:17 – “I’m fireproofin’ it”.

I’m fireproofin’ it? Fireproofin’??? That’s a verb?

(Note to self: Persevere, Peter. You only have two and a half minutes to go. You can do it. Just think: at least it’s not opera.)

0:18-0:22 – With Karla singing about sweating, I’m convinced this song was written expressly for the purpose of being used in gyms – the ones with lots of mirrors so the exercisers can see themselves becoming resplendent.

Now I’m thinking of Flashdance and the lady with the leotards and those leg warmers. (What was her name again? Was it Jennifer? Jessica? Ah, the Internet tells me it was Jennifer.)

0:23-0:26 – I’m having trouble understanding Ms. Devito’s diction here. It sounds like she’s singing “Well, do you ape for me like he do?”, but I’m fairly certain that’s not it. (Although considering this is a song that contains the line “I’m fireproofin’ it”, maybe it is.) It’s probably “ache for me”, but what about “like he do”? I may have to consult a lyric sheet.

It’s at this point in the proceedings that I’d like to mention something other than the lyrics and the singing:

I think the music is perfectly adequate for what it is (i.e., perky, early-’80s new wave/power pop). It played well enough, produced decently enough, and elicits absolutely no strong feelings from me at all.

OK. back to the song. [Ugh]

0:26-0:38 – I think this is the chorus. Karla’s vocals are now double-tracked, and she’s singing the name of the song, and following it with that pesky line, “Well, can you ache for me like he do”, or “we do”, or something. (Now I’m thinking of “The Stonecutters Song” from The Simpsons, when they all sing “we do, we do”.)

I like the harmony vocals at the end of the chorus, when multiple Karlas sing “I still remember it” (0:36-0:38).

0:38-0:43 – Oh no. This bit immediately after the chorus reminds me of “Oliver’s Army“. I’m now thinking of Elvis Costello at the gym.

0:44-0:47 – “Wheelin’, dealin’, tradin’ on feelin’…”. Okay.

0:50-0:52 – “Love virus eats at your mind…”

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want anyone to tell me about mind-eating viruses.

0:55-0:58 – And we’re back to “Do you ape for me like he do?”.

0:58-1:10 – The second chorus. It’s not all that different from the first one. This also has that cute Karla-singing-with-herself double-tracking at the end of it (1:08-1:09). I like it because it the sound of the harmony vocal reminds me of ABBA‘s Agnetha Fältskog (the blonde one) at her most strident.

Speaking of things in this song reminding me of other things…

The first four notes of the chorus melody (“I can’t stand to”) remind me of two other pieces of music.

Bear with me here, because this is going to be exceptionally trivial:

1. The four-note melody of “I can’t stand to” is the same as the first four notes of the solo violin part in the “Sanctus” movement of Fauré‘s Requiem*:

Gabriel FauréRequiem in D minor, Op. 48 (1893 version) – III. Sanctus (excerpt)
(La Chapelle Royale; Les Petites Chanteurs de Saint-Louis; Ensemble Musique Oblique, conducted by Philippe Herreweghe)

Link

2. When I’m hearing Karla’s four-note melody I have the urge to sing “Mammy’s little baby loves shortnin’ shortnin’…

But back to the song.

The law of averages regarding pop songs like “I Can’t Stand To Reminisce” tells me there’s going to be a middle eight next, followed by a guitar solo.

1:10-1:12 – Q: Is this a guitar solo?

A: Nope. It’s a little instrumental break.

Q: Are we not men?

A: We are Devo!

1:12-1:24 – It’s a middle eight. I wonder if there’s a guitar solo after it.

1:12-1:33 – Nope. It’s the back end of the chorus, starting from “Do you ape for me like he do?” (or whatever that is).

1:31 – A dramatic stop by the band, and then…

1:33-1:33 – Ah, it’s not a guitar solo. It’s a piano solo.

For me, this piano solo can be broken down into separate parts:

1:33-1:36 – some frisky tickling of the ivories;
1:36-1:38 – a bit of Elvis Costello;
1:38-1:41 – the pianist doing an impression of someone falling down stairs; and
1:41-1:43 – more Elvis Costello.

Wow. That was a 10-second solo.

1:43-1:46 – “Can you ape for me like he do”. What is she singing?

1:46-2:01 – It sure is an energetic chorus.

2:01-2:06 – More “Oliver’s Army”.

2:07-2:09 – And the band’s just added an extra guitar in the mix. With only 23 seconds to go until the song finishes, isn’t that a bit late to add an extra guitar?

2:07-2:09 – Here Karla’s repeating the title of the song in order to ram it into your head so that you won’t forget it in a hurry.

Minor Observation: In between Karl’s double-tracked recitations of “I can’t stand to reminisce”, Karla adds three “No!”s, one at 2:12, then at 2:15, and the last one at 2:18. The first one is enthusiastic, but the second one sounds half-hearted.

2:20-2:22 – Bizarreness Alert: The way Karla and the band end the song here is weird – with a capital “W”. Karla sings her line (“I can’t stand to reminisce”) the way she’s done so throughout the song, but the band plays haltingly. It sounds like they’re skidding to the end of the song. After listening to it a couple more times I realised they decided to add an extra note, maybe for dramatic effect. But for me, all it succeeded in doing was make the ending sound sloppy. To me, it just sounds wrong.

2:23-2:26 – As the guitars and bass fade out their last chord the drummer sneaks in some drum fills before…

2:26 – The real ending of the song. Bam!

Now the song’s finished.

***

OK. Summing up “I Can’t Stand To Reminisce”:

Er, it was alright.

***

*If you’re interested, here’s the full Requiem. I adore it.

Gabriel FauréRequiem in D minor, Op. 48 (1893 version)
(La Chapelle Royale; Les Petites Chanteurs de Saint-Louis; Ensemble Musique Oblique, conducted by Philippe Herreweghe)