Frank’s Faves on Fridays

November 5, 2010

Dion – “Lookin’ For The Heart Of Saturday Night” (1979)

I’m sure you’ve suggested this before. Or maybe I’ve just seen it somewhere before. Or something. Who knows? Hang on, I’ll check… Nope. You haven’t suggested it before. Anyway, I’ve always liked Dion’s singing. For me, he’s one of those singers who is not especially unique or great, but thoroughly enjoyable. (Like Eddie Money.) OK, I’m having a listen to the song now, and unfortunately my first thought was: “Oh, dear.” This 1979 song sounds like something recorded by Dion… er… I’m trying not to use the phrase “past his prime” here, because that’s not fair, so I’ll consult Wikipedia. Wikipedia calls Dion’s recordings from 1968-1986 “the mature period“. OK, I’ll go along with that. (At least it’s nicer than “past his prime”.) As for the song itself, I thought it was unremarkable. For me, it was alright while it was playing (although I wasn’t keen on the slightly out-of-tune background singers in the “do-do, n dwee-da, n dwee-da…” bits) but there wasn’t that spark that makes me sit up and shout “Yeah!”. For the kind of song it’s supposed to be (i.e., all revved up for a Saturday night), I never had the urge to shout “Yeah!”. But I was amazed at how the saxophone at the start of the song sounded so much like the saxophone in David Bowie‘s “Young Americans“. I’ve heard Dion’s song four times now, and I can say that I didn’t mind it any of the times I heard it. (I liked it a little more the second time, but then my appreciation of the song plateaued there.) Well, this is a surprise: whilst looking for information about “Lookin’ For The Heart Of Saturday Night” I found out that it was written by Tom Waits.

Warren Zevon – “Tenderness On The Block” (1978)

Thanks for suggesting a Warren Zevon track, because it reminds me of his superb live album, Stand In The Fire (1980). I think Warren Zevon is one of those mighty good songwriters that tend to stay just under the radar of public recognition (like John Hiatt). Because I like Warren Zevon’s songs, I’m looking forward to hearing this. Now that I’m playing it, I think it’s OK. It doesn’t grab me in any particular way. I’m now paying attention to the lyrics and… well, I don’t want to try to tell Warren Zevon how to write lyrics, but I think that first line is a bit of lazy writing: “Mama, where’s your pretty little girl tonight / Trying to run before she can walk – that’s right”. Couldn’t he have come up with something a bit more inspired than “that’s right” to end the line? As for the music: considering that this song is about the bittersweet nature of watching a daughter grow up, I thought that the instrumental backing was all wrong for the song. I would have much preferred a simple piano backing instead. (I can imagine Mr. Zevon at the piano, performing the song plaintively to emphasise the melancholy subject matter). Unfortunately, by the third listen I was thoroughly annoyed by the rhythm backing in the song (especially the guitar part in the verses), and how repetitive it was. Now that I’ve heard it a few times, I must admit that I didn’t enjoy the song that much. I wanted to, but there were a few too many things in it that I found irritating and unhelpful.

Incidentally, my “Meh” responses to both those songs could be because I’m a little distracted. I just acquired the 4-CD set of Telemann’s Tafelmusik and I’m impatient to hear it.

But back to the songs…

Frankie Miller – “Be Good To Yourself” (1977)

It’s good seeing the name Frankie Miller in this batch of suggestions. His single “A Fool In Love” was one of the first singles I ever bought. (Boring side-note: The first single I ever bought was Paul McCartney‘s “Junior’s Farm“.) I love Frankie Miller’s voice. Now to the song… I like the jangly guitar at the start of the song – it reminds me of the main guitar riff in “Please Please Me“. I like this song. It’s nice and funky. But Frankie’s singing. Oh yeah. What a voice! Frankie Miller is one of those singers who could sing the phone book, and I’d listened to it enthralled. What a voice. And the more I listen to this song, the more I think this would sound absolutely magnificent live. (Small venue, smoky air, sweaty audience, sweatier musicians, Frankie Miller singing his heart out. Perfect.)

Missing Persons – “Walking In L.A.” (1983)

I loved Missing Person’s first single “Words“, but for some reason promptly lost interest in them straight after that. (Was I more fickle in the 80’s?) I’m afraid that “Walking In L.A.” doesn’t do much for me at all. Almost every aspect of this song prompts an “It’s alright” reaction from me. The singing’s OK, the song structure’s OK, the middle eight’s OK, the guitar solo’s OK etc etc. By the way – and I don’t quite know why (it’s possibly the chord arrangement in the chorus) – but this song reminds me of the Divinyls‘ “Motion”:

(A non-Frank suggestion)
Divinyls – “Motion” (1986)


Bonus instrumental:

The Salsoul Orchestra – “Getaway” (1977)

Just the name of band gets me thinking that I’m going to enjoy this track enormously. (“Salsoul Orchestra” has ‘Lounge‘ written all over it.) When the track started I thought “Bongos. Excellent. Here comes the Lounge…”. But the song started properly and I was taken aback: “Hey, that’s not Lounge. That’s Funk!” And I was surprised at how funky a Big Band could be. But I wasn’t surprised at how awful the guitar sounds. (I think it’s standard practice for practitioners of Funk: everything else sound great, but you always have to make the guitar sound awful.) This reminds me of the Average White Band. (Note to self: listen to the Average White Band again sometime.) It also reminds me of – and has put me in the mood to listen to – the Bob Mintzer Big Band.

Thanks for the suggestions, Frank. The standout track for me this week was Frankie Miller’s. (What a voice.) Everything else was… er, um, ah…

Now to listen to Telemann’s Tafelmusik.

Have fun!