Musical coincidences # 172

January 31, 2012

I’m sure this is a coincidence. Maybe.

The Strangers – “Lady Scorpio” (1969) (beginning)

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The Hollies – “Magic Woman Touch” (1972) (beginning)

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Here are the full versions:

The Strangers – “Lady Scorpio” (1969)

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The Hollies – “Magic Woman Touch” (1972)

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Song of the day: The Strangers – "Western Union"

July 17, 2011

Today’s song is sort of a request. Sort of.

Some time ago (I don’t know when), I was emailed by somebody (I don’t know who) about The Strangers.

Hang on…

This post isn’t starting well at all. I’m going to have to go through my emails to see who sent me that message. Hang on…

OK. I’ve just found the email. It’s by someone called Russell (hi, Russell!).

Russell mentioned that he saw a video of The Five Americans on The Steve Allen Show in 1967 performing “Western Union” – this video, to be precise:

Russell saw the video in a “Frank’s Faves on Fridays” post on this blog (hi, Frank!).

The video reminded Russell of an Australian band from the 60’s called The Strangers and how they’d also recorded a version of it.

Now, Russell didn’t ask to hear The Strangers’ version of “Western Union”, but I’m keen on playing it – not because it’s a great cover version (I don’t think it is) but because it has a bit of audio tacked on to the end of it that I think is a pretty bizarre thing to put at the end of a song.

So, here are The Strangers with “Western Union” and the added bonus at the end of the song:

The Strangers – “Western Union” (1967)

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Song of the day: The Strangers – "Melanie Makes Me Smile"

December 16, 2009

What do you get when you combine bubblegum with cabaret? You get The Strangers with “Melanie Makes Me Smile” (1970):

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I would love to hear this performed by a cabaret singer wearing a shirt and jacket with exceedingly large collars, flared pants, platform shoes, and backed by a big, big Big Band. At maximum volume.

As a bonus, here’s the original version by Tony Burrows, the King of English Bubblegum. “Melanie Makes Me Smile” is one of the few instances of a single featuring Tony that was released under his own name, and not one of the squillions of anonymous one-hit-only bubblegum bands he sang for (such as Edison Lighthouse, The First Class, The Flower Pot Men, The Pipkins, White Plains, The Ivy League, Brotherhod Of Man etc etc etc):

Tony Burrows – “Melanie Makes Me Smile” (1970)

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Song of the day: The Strangers – "Looking Through The Eyes Of A Beautiful Girl"

December 11, 2009

Here’s a pleasant, relaxing, soothing piece of pop with a rather disturbing title:

The Strangers – “Looking Through The Eyes Of A Beautiful Girl (1970)

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And now it’s trivia time…

There are four versions of “Looking Through The Eyes Of A Beautiful Girl” and they were all recorded around the same time. The song was written by an Irish chap by the name of Tommy Swarbrigg and recorded in 1970 by his band, The Times. That’s the original version.

The next two versions were both Australian. You’ve already heard the one by The Strangers (see above), and the other one is by Autumn. Here’s what it sounds like:

Autumn – “Looking Thru The Eyes Of A Beautiful Girl” (1970)

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That was very nice.

But back to the version by The Strangers. Unlike Autumn, who celebrated the song by releasing it as an A-side, The Strangers’ version was relegated to B-side status and, to make matters worse, was the B-side to the apparently loathsome “Mr. President.” (I haven’t heard “Mr. President” but my friend Col assures me that it’s an awful country-ish ditty that has no place in a power pop blog, and that’s good enough for me.*)

Apart from the unsettling title (it creeps me out, man – I’m wondering what kind of person would actually look through the eyes of a woman… maybe an ophthalmologist), there’s a technical aspect of The Strangers’ version that I find very interesting. The lead singer’s voice is at a fairly regular volume (i.e., you can ‘ear ‘im) most of the song’s length, but something weird happens at 1:45: his voice becomes much quieter. It doesn’t drop in volume just a little bit – it becomes the quietest thing in the song. Now, I don’t know if this was deliberate or not but I have two possible scenarios to explain the volume drop:

Option 1 – He moves away from the microphone.
Option 2 – The producer didn’t like his voice and decided to turn it down after being fed up with hearing it.

Option 2 is distinctly possible, because the volume of his voice sneaks up a bit at about the 2:00 mark, and he valiantly tries to sing louder at 2:07 (he almost shouts here) but the volume drops down again, and from that point the singer’s volume gradually creeps up a little only to drop down again until the fade-out. Hmmm… It all makes me wonder if the singer and producer were getting along with each other when they recorded that song.

Regardless of how well (or otherwise) the participants got along during the recording session, it’s a weird bit of recording.

By the way, I just found out that one of The Strangers was John Farrar, a fact that blows my tiny mind because John contributed to Olivia Newton-John‘s stellar career, producing Livvy’s output throughout the 70’s as well as writing the occasional hit single (e.g., “Hopelessly Devoted To You” and “You’re The One That I Want“).

Here’s an early interview with John:

(Yay, YouTube!)

I have a feeling that this post is turning into one big rambling post, and that’s not fair to anyone reading it – especially you. I certainly don’t want to waste your time (any more than I have already), so I’ll try to wrap it up…

The fourth version is by a New Zealand band, Kal-Q-Lated Risk.

I’ll give you some time to let that name sink in.

I couldn’t find the version by Kal-Q-Lated Risk – or the original version by The Times – so I guess you’ll have to be content with the two Australian versions.

And that, hopefully, is the end of this post.

Update (July 3, 2011):

It’s not quite the end of this post. I finally found the two other versions:

Times – “Looking Thru’ The Eyes of A Beautiful Girl” (1970)

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The Kal-Q-Lated Risk – “Looking Through The Eyes of A Beautiful Girl” (1971)

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(*Col sent me a copy of “Mr. President“. It’s dreadful, and sounds like a third-rate Byrds cover band playing a Byrds song that was rejected by The Byrds. The only reason I’d put this song on the blog is if someone dared me.)


Why?

November 4, 2009

I watch this and keep asking myself: “Why?”

The Strangers – “Paperback Writer” (1966 – not 1965)

“Working for the Daily Mirror“?

And don’t get me started on the bass playing…

Anyway, this is how it’s supposed to sound:

The Beatles – “Paperback Writer” (1966)

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And here are the correct lyrics:

“Paperback writer

Paper back writer (paperback writer)
Dear Sir or Madam, will you read my book?
It took me years to write, will you take a look?
It’s based on a novel by a man named Lear
And I need a job, so I want to be a paperback writer,
Paperback writer.

It’s the dirty story of a dirty man
And his clinging wife doesn’t understand.
His son is working for the Daily Mail,
It’s a steady job but he wants to be a paperback writer,
Paperback writer.

Paperback writer (paperback writer)

It’s a thousand pages, give or take a few,
I’ll be writing more in a week or two.
I can make it longer if you like the style,
I can change it round and I want to be a paperback writer,
Paperback writer.

If you really like it you can have the rights,
It could make a million for you overnight.
If you must return it, you can send it here
But I need a break and I want to be a paperback writer,
Paperback writer.

Paperback writer (paperback writer)

Paperback writer – paperback writer
Paperback writer – paperback writer”

I just want to know: Why?