Frank’s Faves on Fridays

September 24, 2010

Update: DivShare’s working again. Yay!

(Advance apology: DivShare is playing up at the moment and won’t let me upload any MP3s. Grrr. I’m afraid that you’ll have to do without MP3s for the moment until I find out what’s going on with DivShare.)

Miriam Makeba – “Pata Pata (1967)


I have no idea what Miriam is singing, but it sounds great. At the 54-second mark, Ms Makeba rather helpfully says: “Pata Pata is the name of a dance we do down Johannesburg way, and everybody starts to move as soon as Pata Pata starts to play. Whoo!”. “Whoo!” indeed. This song got my head bobbing in no time at all. Rhythm, rhythm, rhythm! Mighty good. Then, at 1:55, Miriam says: “Every Friday and Saturday night it’s Pata Pata time. The dance keeps going all night long ’til the morning sun begins to shine. Hey!” That “Hey!” was excellent. I like “Pata Pata” a lot. A very enjoyable way to start this week’s suggestions.

Steve Earle – “Hard-Core Troubadour” (1996)


Up until hearing this particular song, I knew exactly two things about Steve Earle:
1. He was responsible for “Copperhead Road“, song that’s played distressingly often on commercial radio here in Australia. (I’ve now heard “Copperhead Road” more than enough times.)
2. He got into a bit of trouble a few years ago for writing a song told from the point of view of a US-born terrorism suspect (whose name I’ve forgotten).
As for “Hard-Core Troubadour”, I wasn’t much of a fan of Steve’s vocal delivery. Instrumentally, it was pretty much par for the course in this type of song (rock/country, rather than country/rock, something that Steve Earle apparently specialises in – so maybe instead of “hard rock”, I can call Steve Earle’s kind of music “hard country”). I’ve just paid attention to the lyrics, and this song may or may not be about Bruce Springsteen. (Steve nicks* The Boss’s lyrics by singing “Hey, Rosalita, won’t you come out tonight”.) Overall, this sounds very much to me like a Steve Earle song. And you can take that previous sentence as either a compliment or an insult, depending on how you feel about Steve Earle. By the way, the thing I like most about that video is that it features Mr Earle with extremely impressive sideburns.

Raspberries – “Let’s Pretend” (1972)


You could suggest pretty much any Raspberries song and I’d go into paroxysms of hyperbole**. For me, there are two bands above all others who sit, side-by-side, in the Pantheon of Power Pop: Cheap Trick and the Raspberries. As far as I’m concerned, all power pop stems from those two bands. In other words, like the old saying “Everything tastes more or less like chicken”, my brain tells me that power pop sounds more or less like Cheap Trick or the Raspberries. What’s great about “Let’s Pretend”? Well, let me see… I think it’s the melody, the singing (talk about impassioned), the vocal harmonies, the guitar parts, the chord choices, the little bass fills in the choruses, the ultra-relaxed drumming etc etc etc etc etc.

Willie Nile – “Vagabond Moon” (1980)


A nice bit of slightly jangly, slightly country, slightly mild power pop. I liked it more than the Steve Earle song, but I was bothered by Willie’s vocals. I thought they were a little weak. Well, maybe ‘weak’ isn’t the right word. How would you describe it? For me, when Willie sings the words “ni-i-i-i-ght” and “de-l-i-i-i-ght”, he sounds as if he’s out of breath. And Willie’s vocal vibrato is quick but shallow, which I found odd (and a sign of a weak voice). It just sounds as if Willie’s voice isn’t strong enough for the task at hand. Maybe that’s the phrase I can use: Willie’s voice “isn’t very strong”. But apart from that, the song was a pleasant enough way to spend four minutes.

Bonus instrumental:

Commmodores – “Machine Gun” (1974)


When I saw the title I thought, “Hmm – I wonder if that’s Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Machine Gun’. And if it is, I wonder how the Commodores will play it…”. The track started, and I realised within about 0.92 seconds that it wasn’t going to be Jimi’s “Machine Gun”. However, I was gettin’ down to the Commodores’ “Machine Gun” almost immediately. Groovy! Funky! Enjoyable! I loved the rubbery sound of the bass. (It reminded me a lot of the Moog synthesizer bass that Stevie Wonder occasionally played on his recordings.) I could have done without all those synthesizer spaceship sounds (which I’ll call “Triple S”), but I guess they add to the funky charm of the track. However, the short bursts of the Triple S (at the beginning of every bar for eight bars, starting at 0:56) were the most disconcerting, as they sounded to me like a little kitten miaowing. I still liked “Machine Gun”, though. It puts the ‘fun’ in funky.

Excellent. A wonderfully varied batch this week (as usual).

(*As opposed to Stevie Nicks.)

(**Never mind that the phrase “paroxysms of hyperbole” sounds dreadfully high-brow – I reckon it’d make a great prog-rock album title. I can see it now:
“To Be Released In October 2010: Dreams Of Gondor’s latest album, Paroxysms Of Hyperbole. The new album that takes Dreams Of Gondor into realms of the Progressive elite. A sonic journey to rival Tales From Topographic Oceans and In The Court Of The Crimson King as a Prog voyage for the ages.”)