June 13, 2011
Over the next three days I’ll be playing you the three songs that started my love for power pop and formed what my idea of power pop is. I realise that my reminiscences may not be anywhere near as interesting to you as they are to me, so feel free to come back in four days.
Song number one:
The Marmalade – “Radancer” (1972)
Ah, the memories of listening to that song as an 11-year-old with a transistor radio pressed against my ear.
May 12, 2011
A couple of weeks ago my friend Stonefish (Hi, Stone-y-onio!) posted “Cousin Norman” by Marmalade. (Thanks for posting it, Stonecaster!) In the chorus is this:
The Marmalade – “Cousin Norman” (1971) (excerpt)
The melody and chord progression reminded me a lot of a bit of chorus in David Bowie’s “Watch That Man” (even though the rhythms are completely different and can throw you off hearing the similarity):
David Bowie – “Watch That Man“ (1973) (excerpt)
Here are the full versions:
Marmalade – “Cousin Norman” (1971)
Before I play you all of “Watch That Man”, I have to tell you something about it. As you may be aware (I’ve mentioned it on other occasions), I’m a lover of little mistakes in recordings, mainly because it reminds me that actual human beings were involved in the recording process. It also reminds me that the musicians making those mistakes are, no matter how much we want to elevate them to demigod status, only human after all.
With that preamble out of the way, I want to point out the bass playing in “Watch That Man.” As a bass player, I couldn’t help noticing that the recording is full of bass mistakes (courtesy of bass-playing Spider From Mars Trevor Bolder). I was amazed at how many there were, and thought that it would have been noticed by plenty of other bass players. I went looking on the Internet – especially in David Bowie fan forums – for the comments and musings of DB fans but the weird thing is that couldn’t find any mention of Trevor’s slip-ups anywhere on the Internet.
The number of bass mistakes sounds to me like Trevor had a lot of trouble in the studio when the song was being recorded. It sounds like Trevor wasn’t left with enough time to rehearse the track before committing it to tape.
And now for the song in question…
David Bowie – “Watch That Man“ (1973)
April 4, 2010
Here’s Scottish band Marmalade with their version of a not-terribly-well-known Easybeats song:
Marmalade – “Station On Third Avenue” (1968)
And here’s the original:
The Easybeats – “Station On The Third Avenue” (1967)
This may be unpatriotic of me (would it be considered musical treason?), but I prefer the Scottish cover version to the Australian original because it brings out more of the bubblegum flavour that was probably hiding in the original song until the Marmaladers came along and gave it the goody-goody-gumdrops treatment.
Marmalade’s version first appeared on their 1968 debut album, There’s A Lot Of It About, and then on various Marmalade compilations, so it’s been in circulation for quite a while, but the Easybeats original is hardly known. It was recorded at Olympic Studios in England for an album that was never released, and eventually popped up on The Shame Just Drained (1993), an album of Easybeats rarities.
One thing I like in the song (either version) is the little riff (at 0:52 in The Easybeats’ version) that reminds me of the Batman TV theme. And The Easybeats reinforce the Batman reference by singing “Cab man!” straight after the riff (at 0:56). But Marmalade go one better than The Easybeats by playing the little riff not exactly as The Easybeats played it, but much more like the Batman riff (at 0:45 in the Marmalade version).
I love music trivia. It’s so… trivial. And that makes it a whole heap o’ fun.