Musical coincidences # 154

December 3, 2011

Thanks to somebody on Facebook recently posting the video for Nick Lowe‘s “So It Goes“, I was reminded of three things:

1. A part of the song is similar to a part of a Steely Dan song.

2. A part of the video is similar to all of a Hoodoo Gurus video.

3. I like “So It Goes” and haven’t heard it in ages.

Let the coincidences begin:

Music

Nick Lowe – “So It Goes (1976) (excerpt)

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Steely Dan – “Reelin’ In The Years (1972) (excerpt)

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Video

Nick Lowe – “So It Goes (1976)

Hoodoo Gurus – “What’s My Scene (1987)

The full versions:

Nick Lowe – “So It Goes (1976)

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Steely Dan – “Reelin’ In The Years (1972)

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Hoodoo Gurus – “What’s My Scene (1987)

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Musical coincidences # 58

December 9, 2010

This morning I was over at Popdose, a website I visit every day (along with about 15 other blogs and websites). One of their posts had a song by Nick Lowe called “Stick It Where The Sun Don’t Shine”. I hadn’t heard it before, but as soon as it started I thought “Hey, that sounds just like ‘Green River‘!”

Here are the two songs in question. Please note the beginnings of both songs:

Nick Lowe – “Stick It Where The Sun Don’t Shine” (1982)

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Creedence Clearwater Revival – “Green River (1969)

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As a bonus, here’s Nick playing his song live:

Nick Lowe And His Noise To Go – “Stick It Where The Sun Don’t Shine” (live) (1982)

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Nick Lowe official website

Creedence Online


Frank’s Faves on Fridays

November 12, 2010

Nick Lowe – “You Got The Look I Like” (1990)

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I think I’m beginning to see a slight pattern here. Along with some other songs you’ve suggested in the past, I have a feeling that you have a soft spot for roots-rock-inspired power pop. (Could that be called Roots-Pop?) I, on the other hand, have no such special fondness for Roots-Pop. I don’t mind it, but it’s way down on the what-am-I-in-the-mood-to-listen-to-today list. I’m much happier experiencing this music in a live setting rather than sitting at home with the headphones on. I think that the experience of this music is infinitely enhanced by hearing it very loudly in an establishment that sells alcohol, and for the listener to be sweaty and grinning, surrounded by other sweaty, grinning listeners, all having a grand time. For example, one of my all-time favourite concert experiences was George Thorogood and The Destroyers in the 80’s. It was great. But listening to George’s music at home? Eh. Take it or leave it. Now, back to Nick’s song. My favourite part was the rising chromatic passing riff (the first one at 0:24) – it’s a fairly common musical device, but I’ve always loved it when musicians put that little bit in songs. And I liked the drums. (Plenty of tom-tom action there, Frank.) I’ve heard the song four times now, but unfortunately I didn’t like it any more each time. However, I didn’t like it any less. (I still liked it, though. That’s due, in big part, to Nick Lowe. I find him enormously likeable.)

Shelley Fabares – “Johnny Angel” (1962)

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A splendid example of a “prom date” song. (Or maybe I can just call it a “Johnny” song.) I can’t really say anything exceptionally insightful or witty about this song, because it explains itself. All you have to do is listen to the track and you’ll hear everything splendid about it: the song structure (a perfect example for that type of late-Fifties/early-Sixties song); the singing (Shelley Fabares’ voice is the sound of a pink chiffon dress); the musical accompaniment (ideal for this song – plus those pizzicato strings are sublime); and much, much more. Everything about it is a superb example of the craftsmanship (or hackwork, considering how quickly these songs were churned out by the people involved) that went into these “Johnny” songs. I love it to bits.

The Rubinoos – “You Don’t Know Her” (1998)

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I’ve heard about The Rubinoos but never actually gotten around to ever hearing anything by them. If this song is typical of The Rubinoos, I’m glad to have made their acquaintance. This song sounds to me like Paul McCartney circa-“I’ve Just Seen A Face” performed by the Raspberries (the Rubinoos’ vocal harmonies have “Raspberries” written all over them.) Although I really liked just about everything in “You Don’t Know Her”, I want to make a special point of mentioning the guitar solo – I think it’s fantastic. It’s incredibly inventive and well played. Now, I’m not wearing a hat at the moment – and I don’t know of anyone else who might be wearing a hat at the moment either – but I’m still going to say this: Hats off to the guitarist responsible for that guitar solo. I like this song a lot. And I’m now going to belatedly* get to know the music of The Rubinoos.

(*Ah, well. Better late than later.)

Grand Funk – “Can You Do It” (1976)

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What an odd song. When it finally started, I thought that it’s pretty much yer standard Grand Funk Railroad. I listened to it, thought it was OK, listened to it again, still thought it was OK, listened to it one more time, and wondered why I didn’t feel anything (positive or negative) about this song. I noticed little things (like a couple of missed background vocal cues, the bass guitarist picking his strings a little too hard, and the guitar sounding like it had been borrowed directly from Lynyrd Skynyrd), but overall it was a big heap o’ nothin’ for me. Many apologies if you hold this song dear. By the way, “Can You Do It” appears on Grand Funk’s 1976 album, Good Sing’ Good Playin’. I’m mentioning this because I’ve just seen the album cover, and I have to say that I think it’s horrible:

The band was OK with that picture? They approved that?

I think the back cover is much better:

I must say that I was more than surprised when I saw on the back cover that Frank Zappa produced the album. My immediate reaction was to put an exclamation mark after Frank’s name. I think I will: a Grand Funk album was produced by Frank Zappa (!). I don’t quite understand what led Frank “Why play a simple rock song when I can make it very complicated?” Zappa to become involved with a band as uncomplicated as Grand Funk Railroad. I haven’t heard the album, so I can’t tell how much Frank influenced the end result. For example, I don’t know if the band introduced extended musical passages (featuring unusual instrumentation) that aren’t related to the rest of the songs they’re in, or if they unexpectedly inserted smutty humour at various point in their songs. Frank Zappa. Grand Funk. I don’t get it.

Bonus instrumental:

The Brass Ring – “The Dis-Advantages Of You” (1967)

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Nice. The first time I played it, I was quietly grooving to the track, thinking that it wasn’t one of the best pieces of Easy Listening I’ve ever come across (to me, the tunes weren’t especially memorable), but when the saxophones kicked in at 1:03 I thought “Oh yeah – that’s much better.” And with each subsequent listen, I’ve enjoyed “The Dis-Advantages Of You” more and more. Yummy. I’ve listened to it four times now. And I think I’ll listen to it again.


Frank’s Faves on Fridays

May 14, 2010

Big Star – “Back Of A Car” (1974)

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My thoughts on Big Star have already been mentioned on the blog. I’m not a fan:

“Unfortunately, during those formative years I never heard – or even knew about – Big Star until years afterward. (Countdown didn’t played them, and neither did any of the radio stations I listened to.) As a result, the Holy Trinity of power pop (The Raspberries/Big Star/Cheap Trick) was incomplete for me because I hadn’t bonded with Big Star as a teenager (i.e., the music becoming virtually a part of your DNA as your personality forms) as I did with the other bands. I have to admit, though, that even after becoming well acquainted with Big Star, I’m still not much of a fan. This’ll probably sound like sacrilege, and instantly revoke any power pop credentials I may have had up until now, but… I generally find a lot of their lyrics a bit too maudlin (e.g., “Thirteen“), their musicianship painfully sloppy (e.g., “Don’t Lie To Me“), and their melodies not terribly strong (e.g., “Stroke It Noel“), to fully enjoy them. You can call me a heretic now if you like. Maybe I needed to have been an American teenager when I was growing up.”

As you can see, I’m not the ideal guy to give an appraisal of a Big Star song. But “Back Of A Car” sounds like a typical Big Star song to me: lots of treble on the Stratocaster; high tenor singing; sounds like The Byrds playing rock songs etc.

The Beach Boys – “Keep An Eye On Summer (1964)

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I’m actually thinking about putting this one on the blog*, but it’s not Australian and it’s not power pop. (I know, I know: that’s never stopped me before.) However, if I do put it on the blog (I probably will), I’ll mention how sublime the harmonies are, and how the guitar part is incredibly similar to the guitar part in “This Boy“.

(*Note to self: it’s on the blog now.)

Incidentally, apart from not knowing this song, I also didn’t know that Brian Wilson re-recorded it for his 1998 album, Imagination:

Brian Wilson – “Keep An Eye On Summer” (1998)

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But back to your suggestions, Frank…

Brinsley Schwarz – “The Ugly Things” (1974)

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I received this with the artist listed as Nick Lowe. Nick is singing on it but it ain’t a Nick Lowe song. I’d never heard the song before so it took a little while to find out that the artist was actually Brinsley Schwarz (the band Nick was in). With that akwardness out of the way, I had another listen to the song and came to the conclusion that it was nice. A little Beatle-y and pleasant, but not much more. The first time I listened to the song (thinking it was Nick), I had rather hoped to get more out of the song than I did. I’m used to the Nick Lowe of Jesus Of Cool. (Which reminds me to listen to it again sometime. I haven’t heard it in ages.) That album has so much variety on it that I think of it as Nick Lowe’s Revolver, where every song is completely different but each song is highly enjoyable. The second time I listened to “The Ugly Things” (knowing it was Brinsley Schwarz), I had pretty much the same reaction as the first time: a little Beatle-y and pleasant, but not much more. For me, “The Ugly Things” is the sound of Nick Lowe as a budding songwriter.

Billy Satellite – “Satisfy Me” (1984)

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This came on after I’d heard the other three songs, and it was a shock. This is the kind of 80’s rock that, whenever I heard it, was one big generic blur to me. There was so much of it around at the time, and it all sounded so similar, that my ears couldn’t tell who was playing what. Was it Ratt, Poison, Warrant, Cinderella? My ears weren’t attuned enough to the subtleties of differences in any of those bands, so back then it felt like I was being inundated by what sounded like one band releasing way too many records. Nevertheless, I duly listened to “Satisfy Me”, and the only thing I enjoyed was the singer’s yelp at 3:18. I thought it was hilarious. Incidentally, I just found out (courtesy of the Wikipedia link) that Billy Satellite is a band, not a person. Who knew? (Not me.)