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Albums of the Year: 1980

July 29th, 2008 8 comments

In my notebook, I have shortlists for my albums of the year for 1979 and 1980 side-by-side. The list for 1979 is shorter, but infinitely better; 1980’s list includes 24 albums, but fewer which I’m particularly enthusiastic about. While I’m deciding which albums to bump from ’79, here’s the 1980 lot, with decent albums by David Bowie, Paul Simon, Kate Bush, Motörhead, Ideal and Roxy Music not making the cut for various reasons. It’s a rather predictable list, provided one knows that I never liked ska, got into New Wave only a year later, and mostly bought singles that year. And, it seems, I never really caught up with 1980. So no Specials, no Joy Division, no Talking Heads, no Jam, no The Beat, and (you’ll be surprised) no Gaucho…It is, in fact, a year to piss off the Taste Police (with the Police) with a pick of not the best albums of the year, but those I know and still enjoy.

Dexys Midnight Runners – Searching For The Young Soul Rebel
I had never heard anything like this before. Of course, West Germany was not a hotbed of soul music, at least not the soul music which inspired Kevin Rowland and his mates. Geno might well be my favourite single of all time; it certainly was my song of 1980. The album did not quite stand up to the pop sensibilities of Geno – the brass hook, the chanting, the idiosyncratic vocals – and at times seemed downright weird. Especially Rowland’s style of singing, even when he lurched into a falsetto in the song about Leeds, lost some of the novelty over two sides (minus an instrumental). It took the release of Too-Rye-Ay two years later to rediscover Soul Rebel. And what a fine album it is, with its jubilant sounds dressing the often cynical lyrics. There should be an NGO founded which would send a copy of it to every American who has the nerve to call Dexys a “one-hit wonder”. And a copy of Too-Rye-Ay, just to remind them that one Eileen not a group define.
Dexys Midnight Runners – Tell Me When My Light Turns Green.mp3
Dexys Midnight Runners – Geno.mp3

Bruce Springsteen – The River
A good writer will know that sometimes a great paragraph, a sparkling aside or a riotous gag will need to be sacrificed to maintain the flow, the rhythm of the whole piece. It’s what makes them good writers. Recording artists, even good ones, do not always exercise such disciplined judgment. Rock history is oversupplied with double albums which were rather good, but might have been bona fide classics had the artists limited themselves to two sides of an LP. The Beatles’ White Album provided a template for excess and the problem with that excess. Which leads us to Bruce Springsteen’s 1980 offering. Cut the thing by half, and you’d have an album every bit as good as his artistic peak, Darkness At The Edge Of Town. Having said that, one of the more popular tracks on The River is Cadillac Ranch, which I wholeheartedly despise. I love the cover, on which Bruce channels Pacino and De Niro. It’s a very popular cover, as thousands of contributors to Sleeveface prove. This song, to me, defines the Springsteen sound of the era.
Bruce Springsteen – The Ties That Bind.mp3
Bruce Springsteen – The River.mp3

Warren Zevon – Stand In The Fire
Sometime in 1983 I discovered Warren Zevon. At the time, South Africa (where I has moved in 1982) had very well-stocked record libraries, where you could hire LPs for a day. Somehow the record companies didn’t like that, and by 1989 these great shops were forced to close. But when I was introduced to Warren Zevon, by my boss, I took out his entire back catalogue. Two albums stood out: Excitable Boy (naturally) and this live set. It is a rather poorly recorded live album, as these things go, but the cooking atmosphere of LA’s Roxy Club that night is steaming through the LP’s groove. The title is apt, the gig is incendiary. Zevon is often called the missing link between Randy Newman and Bruce Springsteen; Standing In The Fire proves the point.
Warren Zevon-Bo Diddley’s A Gunslinger + Bo Diddley.mp3

The Police – Zenyatta Mondatta
In 1980, the Police were still cool. Sting had not yet revealed himself to be the pretentious, tantric twat we know and hate now. He had edge, as did the other two blond chaps. I really liked the raw debut, Outlandos d’Amour, but found the follow-up patchy, besides its three big single hits. Zenyatta Mondatta (whatever that means), the final album before mega-stardom, was more cohesive than its predecessors. Where the previous two albums required the occasional song-skipping, all of the first side of Zenyatta Mondatta is quite excellent, in particular Driven To Tears. And, well, for the tune we ought to forgive the lyrics of De Do Do Do De Da Da Da. Much of my affection for this album is nostalgic: it transports me back to the day in November 1980 when my step-father and I wallpapered and painted my room. I had taken all my posters off, and threw them away. Of course, since I was a teenager, new posters would soon go up again, but that day marked a rite of passage, to the soundtrack of Zenyatta Mondatta.
The Police – Driven To Tears.mp3

ABBA – Super Trouper
By the time this was released, I had come to hate ABBA, much as I still loved the glam-pop of the mid-70s. By 1980, ABBA had grown up; I was still growing up and yet had outgrown them. I had bought Voulez-Vous, and despised the album. On the cover, our four friends looked like Mom and Dad going to the disco (and my mom and step-dad were middle-aged contemporaries of ABBA). On the sleeve of Super Trouper they were glowing at the sort of extravaganza no 14-year-old would be invited to. ABBA had entered a strange middle-age world. It was only when I had caught up with adulthood (in as far as I ever have) that I came to discover what a fine album Super Trouper is. The title track, which I had despised, is actually very lovely. The Winner Takes It All, a melancholy ballad set to a quasi-disco beat, is a high water mark in the ABBA canon, Lay All Your Love On Me is luscious and gorgeous, and Happy New Year is at once sad, bitter and hopeful. No surprises here, really. Those reside in the album tracks. If the synth-pop number Me And I sounds familiar, it does so because it would be ripped off throughout the 1980s. The Piper recalls Benny and Bjorn’s roots in northern European folk music. Andante Andante (one of those infuriating non-English titles) is a lovely ballad which, with a different title, might have been a hit. And the final track, The Way Old Friends Do, is a gloriously sentimental masterpiece. It possibly was initially conceived as a simple folk song, but here becomes an orchestral anthem, recorded live. It is a pity that the CD re-release came with three bonus tracks, because The Way Old Friends Do closes the album perfectly. Instead, it’s followed by the (admittedly very good) Gimme Gimme Gimme, the throw-away Elaine, and the absolutely awful Put On A White Sombrero, which is as bad as the title would suggest and recalls the turgid genre of the German Schlager.
Abba – The Way Old Friends Do.mp3
Abba – The Winner Takes It All.mp3
Abba – Happy New Year.mp3

Joan Armatrading – Me, Myself, I
Shortly before she passed away in October 1980, my grandmother lived with us. One day she gave me money to buy myself a new pair of trainers. Fashion be damned, I first bought myself two LPs with the unexpected moolah, and invested the remaining funds in the cheapest pair of adidas available. And I had change for some sweets still. The albums I bought were this one and Cornerstone by Styx (the one with Babe, though I bought it for Boat On The River). The latter I never played in full; Armatrading’s would get many spins over the years. The title track is excellent: great guitar riff and solo, and Armatrading in great lyrical and vocal form. All The Way From America and Turn Out The Lights are other highlights. Looking over the list it seems that I was rather too much into AOR (which beats being rather too much into S&M).
Joan Armatrading – All The Way From America.mp3
Joan Armatrading – Me Myself I.mp3

George Benson – Give Me The Night
After Zevon’s LP, this is the other album on this list which I can’t connect to 1980. I discovered it two years later. Benson has acquired an unfortunate reputation has über-smooth, glitter-jacketed soulster of 1980s lurve ballads. While elements of that are true, this image suppresses the respect the man merits for his pre-crooning days (just listen to his version of Jefferson Airplane’s White Rabbit). Give Me The Night, produced by Quincy Jones, finds our friend at a crossroad: part jazz guitarmeister, part proto-Vandross. Here the combination pays off: lite-funk disco numbers such as the title track and the exuberant Love X Love cohabit with fusion instrumentals such as Off Broadway (a play on his 1977 hit with the Drifters’ On Broadway) and Dinorah Dinorah, and with a couple of nice but unremarkable ballads. The highpoint is Moody’s Mood, more recently sloppily covered by Amy Winehouse. The song was based on a sax solo on James Moody’s I’m In The Mood For Love, turned into a song by King Pleasure in 1952. On his version, Benson, usually an average singer, goes all Al Jarreau on us, with the help of Patti Austin.
George Benson – Moody’s Mood.mp3

Dire Straits – Making Movies
One day I might feature Dire Straits in the Pissing Off The Thought Police series. The credibility problem with Dire Straits was threefold: firstly, when CDs became popular, all the quasi-yuppies bought Brothers In Arms, which was seen (like Coldplay today) as “music for people who hate music”; secondly, Mark Knopfler and his red headband and C&W shirt; thirdly, Dire Straits negated punk by creating 9-minute songs. Of course, only the latter element applied in 1980. I had bought the first two albums, on strength of the excellent Sultans Of Swing. Apart from that, they were fucking boring to me. Not so Making Movies. Amid a few dodgy Knopflerifications which anticipated the hateful Money For Nothing, there were four magnificent songs: Romeo And Juliet, Tunnel Of Love, Espresso Love and the title track. When this album came out, one could buy miniature sleeves of albums containing pink chewing gum shaped like an LP, grooves and everything. I remember buying two: Billy Joel’s Glasshouse (the one Billiam album of the era I have no time for), and Making Movies. When I listen to the Dire Straits album, I can still taste the gum.
Dire Straits – Romeo And Juliet.mp3
AC/DC – Back In Black
This was the last AC/DC album I bought. When my friend Mike and I, both AC/DC fans at the time, first played it and Johnson’s voice burst forth, we burst out laughing. He sounded like a Warner Bros cartoon character doing an exaggerated imitation of the late Bon Scott. I still cannot abide by Brian Johnson’s voice. And for evidence to support my dislike, take Give The Dog A Bone from his first album with AC/DC. Bon Scott, who died just half a year before this album was released, would have invested his vodka-drenched soul into this schoolboy prank of a song to make you believe he was indeed looking to, er, feed a canine. In Johnson’s larynx, the song evokes a sleazy drunk about to get nasty with a blow-up doll while his virgin friends watch. So, I think it is fair to observe, I prefer my AC/DC with Bon Scott at the wheel. Johnson actually did OK on tracks like You Shook Me All Night Long (which is really Highway To Hell Redux), Hell’s Bells, Back In Black or Rock ‘n’ Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution. But he was not Bon Scott.
AC/DC – You Shook Me All Night Long.mp3

John Lennon & Yoko Ono – Double Fantasy
John’s love for Yoko was exemplary, a real fairy tale story. This slavish devotion created his foolish impression that the sound of his wife singing was in some way attractive, so much so that the world had to be treated to it. To the world, of course, Yoko’s singing was akin to a recording of a parrot being violated and the sound of his sad squawks being played on 78rpm. Or perhaps I am being unduly harsh. Yoko’s Hard Times Are Over is a fine song, and Kiss Kiss Kiss is a good disco number. John’s tracks were great though. Even Woman, which was overplayed so much after Lennon’s murder that few people alive in 1981 should wish to ever hear it again. I will always love (Just Like) Starting Over, and defy anyone who claims it is cheesy (other than the bit about the Ono-Lennon’s taking out a loan for a trip far, far away. I imagine that Lennon had so much possession as to make the notion of him taking a trip to the bank manager obsolete [Edit: oops, misheard lyric rendering my gratuitous dig at the hypocrite Lennon obsolete. Damn]). As a father, I can identify with the sentimentality of Beautiful Boy. I’m Losing You is potent. And Watching The Wheels is among the very best things Lennon ever did out of McCartney’s earshot. Back in the day, I taped all of John’s songs, and added Hard Times Are Over and Yoko’s Walking On Thin Ice single which came out a few months after the murder (don’t let it be said that Yoko spurned great cash-in opportunities in her 28 years of grief). These days, a playlist employing the same selection technique will do the trick.
John Lennon – (Just Like) Starting Over.mp3
John Lennon – Watching The Wheels.mp3

And what are your favourite albums of 1980?

Previously featured:
1950s
1960-65
1972
1987

Have Song, Will Sing Vol. 1

July 27th, 2008 6 comments

Last year I did a series of Songbirds which seems to have been quite popular, showcasing female artists who fall within the singer-songwriter genre which unaccountably has acquired something of a bad name among the critics. In my view, the genre has not been in a more fertile state since the 1970s. Indeed, it is probably more varied now than it was then.

I’ve thought of doing a similar series on male singer-songwriters (which I might call “Singers with names like schoolteachers”, borrowing a great dig from the Welsh music writer Simon Price). In the meantime, here is a collection of some of the male singer-songwriters I hold in high esteem. What they have in common is that they write the songs they sing, and are broadly, if not invariably, acoustic performers. But the mix transcends such narrow characterisations. Their sensibilities range from folk (such as Mason Jennings) to pop (Bob Evans, Benji Cossa) to indie (Jens Lekman, Josh Ritter) to soul (Amos Lee) to country (Joe Purdy) to rock (Charlie Sexton, Scott Matthews). Most are American, but other nations are also represented, such as Australia (Evans), England (David Ford), Sweden (Lekman) and South Africa (the excellent Farryl Purkiss).

Some are well-known (such as Damien Jurado or, again, Ritter and Lekman), others are without a record contract. Josh Woodward, whose previous album I enjoyed very much, has made his new, very good double set titled The Simple Life available for free download on his website. If you like the sample track on this mix, download it and share it widely. TV viewers will recognise the Steve Poltz song from the Jeep ad, while Landon Pigg’s voice is used to advertise diamonds (albeit with a different, very beautiful, song).

My shortlist is not exhausted. If this mix proves popular, I intend to compile a volume of Songbirds and then a co-ed one. Let me know what you think.

As always, the mix should fit on a standard CD-R.

1. Steve Poltz – You Remind Me (from Chinese Vacation, 2003)
2.
Bob Evans – Friend (from Suburban Songbook, 2006)
3.
Farryl Purkiss – Ducking And Diving (from Farryl Purkiss, 2006)
4.
Mason Jennings – Which Way Your Heart Will Go (from Boneclouds, 2006)
5.
Landon Pigg – Can’t Let Go (from Coffee Shop EP, 2008)
6.
Joshua Radin – The Fear You Won’t Fall (from Unclear Sky EP, 2008)
7.
Jay Brannan – Can’t Have It All (from Chinese Vacation, 2003)
8.
David Ford – Cheer Up (You Miserable Fuck) (from I Sincerely Apologise For All The Trouble I’ve Caused, 2005)
9.
Josh Ritter – Wait For Love (You Know You Will) (from The Historical Conquests Of, 2007)
10.
Damien Jurado – Simple Hello (from On My Way To Absence, 2005)
11.
Charlie Sexton – Cruel And Gentle Things (from Cruel And Gentle Things, 2005)
12.
Griffin House – Just A Dream (from Lost And Found, 2004)
13.
Josh Woodward – History Repeats (from The Simple Life, 2008)
14.
Jens Lekman – I Saw Her in the Anti War Demonstration (from Oh You’re So Silent Jens, 2005)
15.
Kevin Devine – Probably (from … travelling the EU EP, 2003)
16.
Joe Purdy – Why You (from Only Four Seasons, 2006)
17.
Amos Lee – Long Line Of Pain (live) (from Supply And Demand, 2006)
18.
Elvis Perkins – Ash Wednesday (from Ash Wednesday, 2007)
19.
Scott Matthews – Passing Stranger (from Passing Stranger, 2007)
20.
Benji Cossa – The Show Is Over Everywhere (from Between The Blue And The Green, 2007)

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Pissing off the Taste Police with Simply Red

July 25th, 2008 5 comments

Here’s a cred rehab I never thought I’d perpetrate, yet here I am, giving qualified props to Mick Hucknall, the much reviled MOR-soul merchant of supermarket and megastore premier shelf space, whose CDs in many households reside alongside those of Céline Dion, Kenny G and Michael Fucking Bolton (as his mother calls him).

Even before he hit the big time in 1985, he was called “the most reviled man Manchester”. Not by New Order, but by the lovely folks of Swing Out Sister. Before the decade was over, he was widely acknowledged “the most reviled man in pop”. I know too little about Hucknall to curse his character. I take the world’s word for it that it is blemished, but suspect that he has many redeeming features.

My abiding dislike of Hucknall is rather more prurient, harking back to the days when he was having a relationship of alleged sexual nature with the lovely Steffi Graf, owner of the greatest legs in sports. I don’t usually picture the copulation of famous people (much less non-famous folks), but upon learning of this revolting mismatch, my mind involuntarily conjured the image of Hucknall on top of the lovely Steffi Graf, his transluscent sweaty arse, polka-dotted with freckles and postules, heaving and thrusting, thrusting and heaving, before delivering his ace (note the entirely unexpected and not at all lazy tennis pun here. But be thankful I did not stoop to the level of opening up the red box, as Hucknall has in song). If I was a sex therapist, this would be the image I’d recommend to young men as a mental remedy to the affliction of premature ejaculation, perhaps photoshopped to replace the lovely Steffi Graf with Margaret Thatcher.

The image of Rutting Mick has done little to enhance the appeal of his music. His version of If You Don’t Know Me By Now didn’t help either. Where Teddy pleaded and soared, Hucknall sucks the life out of the song and vacuum-packs its emaciated carcass. No surprise that he resides next to soul-killing Michael Fucking Bolton on CD racks in middle-class households everywhere. When David Brent in the Christmas special of The Office releases the song as a single, he covers not the Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes original, but Simply Red’s version; a deliciously damning indictment of Hucknall’s interpretation.

And yet, Hucknall can belt out a great cover. On Simply Red’s unimpeachable debut, Picture Box, Hucknall delivered an excellent soul version of Talking Head’s Heaven. Hucknall can also write a great tune. Holding Back The Years is so fine a song, it is often assumed that it had to be a cover of some lost soul classic. That song is also proof, if any was needed, that Hucknall is an excellent vocalist, when he can be bothered. No doubt, Hucknall understands soul. All the more a pity that he has sacrificed these intrinsic soul sensibilities so as not to alarm Sharon and Tracey and the rest of his suburban housewive audience.

Picture Book is a consistently outstanding album. After that, there was little by way of consistency. The next two albums can be described most charitably as patchy. I do like 1991’s Stars, even though it is obviously aimed at Sharon and her boyfriend Gary. When it came out, I was in brief danger of becoming a Gary. Nonetheless, on Stars, Hucknall does the sterilised soul-lite thing he does better than at any other time. At least as far as I can tell, for by the time 1995’s Time arrived I had come to resent the indistinguishable sound of Hucknall’s depthless music (and that fucking tooth). All I have heard of Simply Red since has been over the airwaves, the showcase for an artist’s supposedly best work. I remember nothing of it.

Simply Red – Come To My Aid (1985).mp3
Simply Red – You’ve Got It (1989).mp3
Simply Red – Holding Back The Years (1985).mp3
Simply Red – For Your Babies (1991).mp3
Simply Red – Something Got Me Started (1991).mp3
Simply Red – Stars (1991).mp3
Simply Red – Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye (1987).mp3
Simply Red – Fairground (1995).mp3

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More Pissing off the Taste Police

Music For Bloggers: Vol. 7

July 23rd, 2008 6 comments

Last time I promised to post more Music For Bloggers within a couple of weeks. Almost month later… As always, if your blog doesn’t feature now, it might do so in the future. Does anyone find this feature useful?

Uncle E’s Musical Nightmares
This might look like an act of reciprocity: a little while back, Uncle E. posted a bunch of made-up and amusing “facts” about Steely Dan, in honour of this little blog. While I was genuinely touched by that, I really do enjoy Uncle E.’s lists, notes and the occasional rant. His fireworks about his “little iPod cigarette lighter FM ‘port’ thingy” (it’s called an iTrip, I think. At least when the fuckers from Apple make it) a few days ago is quite spectacular; and his alternative CD-R playlist not at all unattractive. Unle E. does not give us music, but he gives us some good ideas – and entertains us along the way.
Cat Stevens – 18th Avenue (Kansas City Nightmare).mp3

Jens Lekman – smalltalk
I don’t go in much for blogs written by artists. Maybe I’m betraying my utter lack of empirical research now, but my impression is that often they are either banal or written by the act’s PR interns. Armed with that prejudice, I don’t tend to seek out such blogs. Occasionally I’ll stumble upon one by accident; usually when I do research for this blog. That’s how I found Jay Brannan’s blog, and that’s how I found Jens Lekman’s. If it is necessary to introduce to the reader the great Lekman, the dear reader might right-click HERE for an introduction. Jens doesn’t update his blog with compulsive regularity, unfortunately. The last entry was on June 30. Still, so much greater the joy when he does. I like this, from his entry on 19 June: Everytime I play on some satellite radio station I always end up in the same discussion. [Satellite radio station guy] “You know you can say anything you want here right?” “Oh yeah? That’s cool.” “You know, really, anything.” “Sweet.” “I mean, you can say fuck if you want to.” “Ok.” (silence) “…We’d really like you to say fuck as much as possible.” This absolutely wonderful song namechecks Jens Lekman:
Hello Saferide – The Quiz.mp3

Ain’t Superstitious
The blog’s full title in full is “Ain’t Superstitious, but these things I’ve seen”, which by dint of a comma is an even bigger mouthful than Any Major Dude With Half A Heart. Like most music blogs with long names, it’s named after a song lyric, in this case a Faces song. Blogger Paul Madison, a resident of Wisconsin (one US state I know absolutely nothing about) has a nice, crisp style of writing; he knows his stuff and how to convey it. His music selections are invariably of interest — he scooped me with a post on Lennon/McCartney compositions recorded by other acts. To make sense of my dedication, you’ll have to visit Paul’s blog.
The Style Council – My Ever Changing Moods (12″ version).mp3

AM, Then FM
I could have sworn that I featured this blog before, but apparently not, as repeated scans of previous Music for Bloggers entries confirmed. Perhaps I wrote a masterful review and in the haze of a drunken hour miserably deleted it. Like Paul of Ain’t Superstitious, Jeff is from Wisconsin. His blogroll features many sites also included on mine, but not the blog of his fellow Wisconsan (and vice versa). Which means that either they don’t each other (possible, unless Wisconsin has a population of 250; as I said, I know nothing about Wisconsin) or they do know each other but are entertaining a long-running family feud. They’d like each other’s blogs, I’m sure. Jeff deals in mostly vinyl rips, some of them quite rare, and evidently in covers of the Rolling Stone featuring Linda Ronstadt in her loveliest pomp. And some good writing along the way. This reminds me, August 12 is Vinyl Record Day , and AM, Then FM and other friends of this blog will take part. I’m trying to organise a turntable (my Technics has no stylus, and I no money for a new one) and learn to rip vinyl before then, but I’m not hopeful that I’ll succeed.
Steely Dan – FM.mp3

PsD Photoshop Disasters
I discovered this blog only yesterday, when I had a shitload of work to do. Work, which includes the occasional bit of photoshopping, had to be damned for an hour or so while I guffawed at some of the idiotic things that can happen when you let the monkeys loose on clever toys. How likely is it to clone, if you need to clone at all, a solitary hand parked on a fence? How difficult is it to let the lovely model keep her belly button (I like belly buttons. Surely everybody likes belly buttons)? I can’t understand why some images need to be created from scratch in Photoshop instead of in a photo studio, or why a model’s arm needs to be stretched to unnatural lengths. And is there no quality control. Not in glossy magazines, Apple ads or DVD covers. DTP has made print media production much easier, but it has also allowed talentless amateurs on the steering wheel. They go crazy with layers and the cloning tool, they O.D. on fonts, they violate every rule of colour management. I once saw an NGO’s annual report which ran all text in red on black background. The design agency – for it was a graphic design company, not he secretary’s 12-year-old son who designed the report – won an award for it! The Photoshop Disasters blog is a healthy way to mock incompetence an

d sloppiness in design. The dedicated song is a 2002 track from a now disbanded South African rock group.
Perez – Picture Perfect.mp3

SibLingshot On The Bleachers
This is a fairly new blog, kicking off business just two months ago. In its first month, blogger ib created almost as many posts as I did in all of 2007, and just in July more than I have this year. And we’re not talking about quickly churned out one-liners, but well-written and thoughtful posts written from a position of knowledge. That is impressive. ib’s music selection is very good, too, covering a wide range of genres, from Deodato via Johnny Cash and Jonathan Richman to the 1910 Fruitgum Company. Normally there is just one song per post, which means that quite a bit of thought goes into choosing the most suitable song. Some of the stuff is very rare. Given ib’s eclectic tastes and weird blog title, I’ve been stuck for a dedication. I remember early in his career, ib posted the Dionne Warwick and Frankie Goes To Hollywood version of Do You Know The Way To San José. You can never go wrong with a bit of Burt, so from 1965…
Jackie Trent – Make It Easy On Yourself.mp3

Dr Forrest’s Cheese Factory
This is a treasure trove in a goldmine. It’s a malfunctioning cash machine which cannot stop spewing out loot – provided one wants comedy or collects really bad music, or gets a kick out of audio novelties. The blog’s narrative is manic, and so is the rate of posting. My heart leapt when I opened the blog yesterday and saw the Kids From The Brady Bunch album, which is truly terrible and needs to be listened to. Once. Ethel Merman’s famous disco album? It’s there. I’ve seen many albums for download in the Cheese Factory which are staples of the “worst album covers ever” type of lists. You know the type of obscure sleeves which may depict four fat brothers and their one-armed mother in matching brown polyester suits warning the kids of the devil in country style. Chances are good that the Cheese Factory has that album. The Cheese Factory also seems to share my obsession with horrible moustaches. To celebrate everything done in the best possible taste, here’s a song the Cheese Factory does not have:
Kenny Everett – Snot Rap.mp3

N.M.E. & Melody Maker
I don’t know whether there are more sites like it, but this unassumingly named blog provides a wonderful service: scanned articles from the Melody Maker and New Musical Express, circa 1987-96. At times, it might embarrass the hacks featured (I’d hate for someone to dig up some of the rubbish I wrote 15 years ago), but it’s great fun. And what fine writers there were: David Stubbs (whose Mr Agreeables and variations thereof also feature), Simon Price, Andrew Mueller, Everett True… and a few NME types. Funny, I never liked the NME much, but, goodness, it’s so bloody horrible now that I miss the old incarnation. And the Maker is long dead. So, while we mourn the existence of the non-broadsheet, rather too laddish NME, we can revisit the good old days. Hey, is there a blog dedicated to Smash Hits’ Black Type? Is he Back! Back!! Back!!! somewhere? Of all the dedications in this post, this track was a no-brainer.
The Cure – Desperate Journalist.mp3

Previously featured:
Music For Bloggers Vol. 1: Totally Fuzzy, Not Rock On, Serenity Now (RIP), Stay At Home Indie Pop, The Late Greats, Tsururadio, 200percent, Jefitoblog (RIP), Television Without Pity, Michael’s World
Music For Bloggers Vol. 2: Fullundie, Mr Agreeable, Greatest Films, Peanut’s Playground, Just Good Tunes, Csíkszereda Musings, Mulberry Panda, The Black Hole, Secret Love, Hot Chicks With Douchebags
Music For Bloggers Vol. 3: Girl On A Train, Maybe We Ain’t That Young Anymore, Earbleedingcountry, Spangly Princess, Ill Folks, Deacon Blues, One-Man Publisher, CD Rated
Music For Bloggers Vol. 4: Pop Dose, Todger Talk, Holy Goof (RIP), Echoes In The Wind, Sunset Over Slawit, The Hits Just Keep Coming, The Ghost of Electricity, Guitariotabs
Music For Bloggers Vol. 5: The Quietus, Barely Awake In Frog Pyamas, The Great Vinyl Meltdown, Fusion 45, Inveresk Street Ingrate, The Songs That People Sing
Music For Bloggers Vol. 6: my hmphs, Visions of Wrong Terrence, Don’t Burn The Day Away, Mine For Life, 3 Minutes 49 Seconds

Interview: Jay Brannan

July 20th, 2008 3 comments

Is it possible to fairly review an album one has fallen in love with? It is legitimate to review an album one hates; those are much easier and great fun to write. In life as in music criticism, it is simpler to spew bile than to convincingly justify love. So I won’t attempt a critique of Jay Brannan’s debut album, Goddamned, which was released this month. I will not discuss the wistful beauty of Home, the biting acerbicism of On All Fours and American Idol, the sing-along properties of Half-Boyfriend or At First Sight, the staccato wit of Bowlegged & Starving or String Along Song or Death Waltz, the sweet yearning of Housewife, or the sweeping acoustic gothicism of the title track.

Perhaps it is a better indication of the album’s merit that everyone I have introduced Brannan’s music to has become a fan (at least those who have reported back to me). Most satisfying among my converts is Any Minor Dude, 13, who came into my study and announced that it is impossible not to listen to Goddamned on loop. Father and son share excellent taste, again. It is indeed a wonderful album in the singer-songwriter genre.

The melodies are quite lovely; the arrangement frequently spare but consistently imaginative. The set is at times intensely intimate. Some catchy phrases creep into the mind, creating recurring earworms. But above all the album’s finds its potency in the singer’s vulnerable lyrics. Brannan reveals himself, sometimes brutally so, in songs addressing issues of self-esteem, of rejection in complex romantic liaisons, of disillusionment, anger and hope. Brannan has some invigorating turns of phrase, such as “your text messages provided low calorie food for my soul”, the awkwardly lovely metaphor underlining the appeal of an artist giving of himself. One feels close to the singer, drawn to his experience. Hmm, perhaps I have found the words to justify why I love the album.

All this may sound as though Brannan is a miserablist with guitar (and strings and piano). That would be a misrepresentation. He has a delicious wit. Read his blog to meet a funny, unassuming, passionate and very likable man who feels very strongly about some things and is wide-eyed about other things.

And with all this out of the way, here is this blog’s very first EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW

AMD: Music critics are becoming increasingly scathing about the whole singer-songwriter genre. Are you concerned that being a guy with guitar performing under his own name is going to harm your reception with the reviewers?
JB: Everyone keeps telling me that this “singer-songwriter” category is becoming cliché and that people are afraid of that classification, but I never knew that until I started hearing it from others. Of all the titles and categories that could be pushed on me, I’m totally fine with this one. In fact, I often use it on myself. I think it describes what I do quite fairly: I sing and I write songs.

It’s a very rich genre at the moment, perhaps the best “singer-songwriter” scene since the ’70s, with artists like Sufjan Stevens, Laura Veirs, Joshua Radin, the Weepies, Rosie Thomas, Kathleen Edwards, Josh Rouse, Mindy Smith, Griffin House and so on. Do you see yourself as part of that scene?
I don’t see myself as part of any “scene”. What I do is very personal, and I do it because I don’t know what else to do with myself. It’s me and my guitar in the middle of the night, alone in our apartment, putting music to all the thoughts that have been racing around in my head for years. It’s my way of having a voice, and attempting to maintain some level of sanity. I mean, there’s music that I like and stuff — the Weepies are really great — but I don’t pay that much attention to what other people are doing. I’m not saying what I’m doing is incredibly original or anything, but I’m kind of a lone wolf. I’ve never been one to really feel part of any family or community.

Your litany of swearing on On All Fours is quite spectacular. Did that come to you naturally?
Ha ha, thanks. Swearing always comes naturally to me. Curse words are so expressive and can be used in so many different ways. And they’re just words. I don’t see why people get so freaked out about that sort of thing. We live in this society that forces so many rules and customs on us, but most of those concepts are never thought out to their logical conclusion. For example, when Janet Jackson flashed her breast at the Super Bowl — whether by accident or on purpose — who cares? It’s the human body, for god’s sake. We all have a chest…men, women, children. I think it’s so sad how we are trained to see our own bodies as so shameful and dirty. I’ve never understood, or been able to follow, these customs and ideals that just flat out don’t make sense.

Some of the songs on Goddamned are very personal, evidently drawn from complex relationships. The line “You liked the guy on your iPod, not the guy in your bed” (from At First Sight), for example, suggests they are autobiographical. How much of yourself goes into your lyrics?
Pretty much everything I write comes from my own reality. Anger and pain and frustration are my main motivating factors for writing, and I try to be as honest and accurate in my lyrics as I can. That’s not to say every song is a complete literal account of a real life event, though some are. Sometimes I combine a couple different relationships or experiences into one song, but make it all one story for the sake of the song. Or sometimes you take an emotion or sentiment and magnify it a little to make it more interesting. You only have three or four minutes, so sometimes you make adjustments so that each song is coherent in such a small amount of words, but it definitely is a patchwork of reality. That’s my goal, anyway.

Songs like Housewife and At First Sight obviously describe gay relationships. It does come across as being quite unselfconscious, which I admire. But did you debate with yourself how this might influence the reaction your music will receive?
I disagree that any of my songs “describe gay relationships”. I don’t think that the singer’s gender and the gender of the other character(s) in the song really affect what the song is about, and I hope we are closing in on the day that people can see that. I know pl
enty of women (straight and gay) who want to be housewives, and I’m sure there are plenty of straight men out there who would like to be in a relationship and not have to be the breadwinner, too. They might just be afraid to admit it out loud (laughs).

But are you worried about being known as “Gay Singer Jay Brannan”?
I hate having my sexual orientation used as a title or a genre. It pisses me off. I just want to be a regular musician like anyone else. When Lisa Loeb sings, she’s singing about her life, her relationships, her experiences. No one ever says she’s singing “straight songs” or that she’s singing about “straight issues”. No one ever says that Whitney Houston’s or Seal’s songs are about “what it’s like being a black person”. At the end of the day, we’re all the same and we all go through the same shit. The rest is just details.

On your blog a couple of months ago you said you hadn’t given up your day job yet. What is that day job? Do you still have it?
I proofread legal documents for a translation company. And yes, I still have it, though I have decreased my hours quite a bit in order to record and go on tour, and so on. I probably could have quit already, but I’m nervous about letting it go, because the music thing is very unpredictable. Also, I’ve saved the money I’ve made from music thus far and invested it in recording my own album. That way, I’m able to make all the creative and business decisions, and release the album under my own record label, Great Depression Records.

How does a Brannan live show differ from the record?
Well, I don’t think they’re enormously different. When I play live, it’s just me and my guitar. I tried to maintain that feel on the record, while adding some layers and textures. But I think the arrangements are still pretty simple and raw and acoustic. I even put a couple tracks on the album that are just me and guitar. In some of the recordings, I am playing and singing at the same time, so it’s almost like capturing a live performance. I talk a lot between songs at a show to try and ease my nerves, and I didn’t put any of that on the album. I like my shows to be informal, with interaction between me and the audience — I don’t like to have to do all the work (laughs). So I think they have a similar feel, but get there in slightly different ways. Does that make sense?

——————————

Visit Jays homepage (and read the very funny bio) at www.jaybrannan.com

Order the album here.

And here are two more songs, Can’t Have It All from Goddamned and the dangerously infectious Soda Shop from James Cameron Mitchell’s film Shortbus, plus the direct links to songs I posted last month.

Jay Brannan – Soda Shop.mp3
Jay Brannan – Can’t Have It All.mp3
Jay Brennan – At First Sight.mp3 (direct download link)
Jay Brennan – Half-Boyfriend.mp3 (direct download link)

Categories: Uncategorized Tags: ,

Mandela is 90

July 17th, 2008 7 comments

In the late ’80s, the apartheid Security Branch raided my place a couple of times. That sounds more grandiose than it really was: my part in the destruction of the racist regime was minute. The fact that the SB was investigating at all me shows just how pervasive the bastards really were. I also hasten to point out that by the second raid, they had dispatched the intellectual rejects from the absolute bottom of their inbreds’ gene pool. Captain Domgat’s line of interrogation included the question: “Are your friends European?”, employing the popular noun by which the racists liked to describe themselves. I could muster no greater wit than to reply that they were all born in South Africa. Captain Domgat was too feeble to rephrase his question. A fearsome interrogator he was not.

All the while a strong wind was blowing through the window, making the pages of my Marilyn Monroe calendar flutter. That made me nervous, because behind the calendar hung a picture of Nelson Mandela. That was contraband: it was illegal to own images or writings by banned persons, such as Mandela (especially Mandela), and illegal to publish these.

I got away with the pic, but had no such luck with a video film of Mandela’s life. Captain Domgat had instructed me to play all my videos. So by the time I got to the tape labelled something like Uncle Bert’s 60th Birthday Party, I knew I was in trouble. I remembered that last time I had stopped the video, it was at the scene of the Sharpville massacre. So I “accidentally” pressed the fast forward button, hoping to arrive at a non-descript scene, perhaps of Nelson and Winnie tasking a romantic stroll (without being stopped by a stupidly moustached cop like Captain Domgat demanding to see their passbooks). Of course, when I caught my “mistake” and pressed play, the film showed somebody building a bomb… I never saw the video again. But I got off lightly. People were persecuted for lesser things.

All this is to mark the 90th birthday of Nelson Mandela, the greatest man alive, on Friday, July 18. I’ve been in close proximity to Mandela only twice. I’ve met many famous people, but none with an aura like that man. I could almost cut it.

I have written before about the day Mandela was released (link here). Now that he is frail and very old, I dread the day he dies. Not because I expect that his death will unleash a torrent of civil unrest, but because a world without Mandela will be a world diminished. Rarely have the traits of idealism, principle, pragmatism, intelligence, integrity, honour, courage, charisma, charm and generosity of spirit coalesced in one man to such degrees as it has with Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. Whatever the man’s personal failings, and he certainly was no Gandhi, his peace building in South Africa was nothing less than heroic.

Sadly his legacy – a model democratic dispensation – is being distorted and wrecked by his successors in the ANC who display little by way idealism, principle, pragmatism, intelligence, integrity, honour, courage, charisma, charm or generosity of spirit. The current leadership, and that which it has replaced, is by and large morally tainted. What heritage of Mandela’s is being sustained when two leaders undertake to “kill for Zuma” should the presumptive future president of South Africa be made to answer charges of corruption and racketeering in court?

Still, even in this political climate, Mandela remains a hero. Everybody wants a piece of him. Every two-bit celebrity or slimy pol who comes to South Africa wants an audience with him. I suspect that these audiences are contingent on contributions being offered to the various foundations in Mandela’s name. If so, how much did it cost Gerri Halliwell to touch Mandela’s arse? And, speaking of fundraising, what sort of wankwit will shell out $17,000 for a platinum bangle bearing the numbers 46664, Mandela’s prison number which now is the name of his AIDS charity? Charity bling is just obscene. That is not to say that Mandelas’s foundations don’t do good work. But I am alarmed by the apparent commoditisation of Mandela (note that I don’t call him by his clan name Madiba, an overused name which at once indicates affection and lack of respect if not employed by those close to him). Oh, but Mandela has loads of pop pals. Ole Blue Shades is a good friend of Mandela’s too, the ingratiating tosser.

The world would be a poorer without Mandela, but a better place without those ghastly 46664 concerts. Before the first 46664 concert in Cape Town, Dave Stewart of the Eurythmics pontificated about how South Africa must address its poverty problem. Of course, being thus put in place by this man of stature and relevance, the government lurched into immediate action. And at a more recent 46664 concert in Johannesburg, Stewart’s erstwhile sidekick, the ghastly Annie Lennox, positioned herself next to Mandela as he made a speech about sexual responsibility as a way to fight AIDS et cetera. All the while Lennox was emphatically nodding her head, as if her consent to Mandela’s words would persuade “the kids” to “listen to this man”. Did that delusional cow think that a sign of her dissent would in any way impair the reception of Mandela’s speech?

I blame Mandela’s people who are obviously so clueless as to think that Annie Lennox or Sting are relevant. They probably are the kind of people who’ll profess a passion for soul music. You know, like Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey. How difficult is it to round up two dozen authentically relevant acts for those 46664 gigs (if one must have them in first place). I’d be happy to invite Mandela around to my place to give him some guidance on the matter. As long as I don’t have to give money to his behemoth, overstaffed charities.

Here is some music to celebrate Mandela’s birthday. Hugh Masekela’s urgent and danceable Bring Him Back is a live version of his 1987 song (which could not have anticipated that Nelson and Winnie would one day divorce). Brenda Fassie was the queen of South African pop, which did not prevent her from making political statements such as this excellent song about Mandela, released in 1989 when the regime was making its last bitter stand. I posted the Bright Blue track a year ago: Weeping, from 1987, was the first big hit by a white South African group to blantantly criticise the apartheid regime. It features strains of the struggle anthem Nkosi Sikel’ iAfrica, yet it was not banned on state-owned radio. Peter Tosh’s Apartheid, from 1977, probably does not express Mandela’s mind (“You in me land” sounds more like Mugabe’s gig), but it was a popular song among anti-apartheid activists during the struggle. I needn’t introduce 1984’s Free Nelson Mandela (also reposted) or Sun City from the following year.

Brenda Fassie – Black President.mp3
Hugh Masekela – Bring Him Back Home (live).mp3
Artists United Against Apartheid – Sun City.mp3
Peter Tosh – Apartheid.mp3
The Special A.K.A. – Free Nelson Mandela.mp3
Johnny Clegg & Savuka – Asimbonanga.mp3
Bright Blue – Weeping.mp3

The other files are of historical interest. Two files of Mandela speaking, on recorded during the Rivonia trial which sentenced him to life imprisonment, the other from his first speech as a free man in February 1990 (on this clip he restates his iconic manifesto from the Rivonia trial). The other spoken file is the judge, Quartus de Wet, sentencing Mandela and his co-accused (including the saintly Walter Sisusulu). Note his use of the word non-European; perhaps he was Captain Domgat’s uncle. Then there are sounds from the struggle: the freedom song Rolihlahla (Mandela’s Xhosa name), the full anthem (compare to the hybrid version of South Africa’s current national anthem), and a clip of chanting to the wardance-like toyi toyi.

(Links below updated on March 16, 2009)

Nelson Mandela – Demand for equal rights for African People (Rivonia Trial).mp3
Rivonia Trial – Sentencing (Judge Quartus de Wet).mp3
Nelson Mandela – Day of release from prison, Cape Town 1990.mp3

Struggle Songs – Nkosi Sikel’ iAfrica.mp3
Struggle Songs – Rolihlahla.mp3
Struggle Songs – Toyi Toyi Beat.mp3

Pissing off the Taste Police with John Denver

July 14th, 2008 12 comments

The cover of his first Greatest Hits album tells you everything you already think you know about John Denver. Looking like a feckless country boy (a status he thanked God for in song) dressed up like a scarecrow, wig and all, he does that boyish, goofy laugh which your granny found so reassuring. All that’s missing is the piece of straw clenched between his hick teeth. Released in 1973, the album cover communicates that this singer is so nice, he lacks the edge of the Carpenters and the raw sexuality of Donny Osmond. Who said we, the cool people, want our entertainers to be fucking nice?

The cover anticipates Denver’s kinship with the Muppets. He looks like one here, and a few years later he joined them. Where other musicians appeared on The Muppet Show giving it a knowing smile and a wink, Denver’s involvement was devoid of irony altogether. He was one of them. He exuded utter sincerity even when conversing with a toy frog. And the critics had always hated him for being so sincere anyway.

The country boy muppet was my formative image of John Denver. For decades, I loathed the man and his work without knowing either. I was just going with the flow. OK, so I liked Annie’s Song. If forced to account for my supposed lapse to the Taste Police, I’d apologise, explaining that it is a sweet song, even though John Denver – yeurgh – sang it. But a sweet song it is. If I was called Annie, I’d get wet hearing it.

I had no idea about John Denver. I consciously avoided exposure to his music, as if it might contaminate me. I mistakenly thought his original Take Me Home Country Road had the yokel C&W arrangement of yee-hah cliché. I thought Leaving On A Jet Plane was an excess in simplicity. I had heard Rocky Mountain High, but never listened to it. I didn’t even know the sublime Sunshine On My Shoulders (which became a US hit in 1974, three years after it was first released)! Until last year, when one of the bloggers I really respect, Whiteray from Echoes In The Wind, uploaded Denver’s Whose Garden Was This album from 1970. I downloaded it. I listened to it. I liked it. Notwithstanding Whiteray’s warning that Sunshine On My Shoulder is insipid (oh, he’s very wrong on that one), I became intrigued by the singer. I read up on Denver, learning that Whose Garden is not considered one of his best album. So there had to be better albums? I stocked up on John Denver’s earlier albums and found that my prejudice had been entirely foolish.

The truth is that John Denver, for all his guileless sincerity, knew how to write a good song and how to interpret those composed by others. Like most Beatles fans, I am wary of other people singing their songs. I can think of only a handful of covers which eclipse the originals (Cocker’s With A Little Help From My Friends, Stevie Wonder’s We Can Work It Out, Earth Wind & Fire’s Got To Get You Into My Life, perhaps Ray Charles’ Eleanor Rigby). On Rocky Mountain High, Denver eclipses a Beatles original with his very lovely take on McCartney’s Mother Nature’s Son from the White Album (it had to be a McCartney song. Tough I can conceive of Denver singing Lennon’s Working Class Hero. Not that it would necessarily be any better than the turgid original).

Because of Denver’s conservative granny-friendly image – the Richard Clayderman of country – I had presumed he was a Republican (just like granny-unfriendly Neil Young in the ’80s). Again, wrong. He was a vocal critic of Nixon and Reagan. Denver campaigned for Jimmy Carter in 1976, took up social issues such as HIV/Aids when it was not yet fashionable to do so, set up foundations for sustainable living, the environment, the poor. He possibly pissed off portions of his country constituency by denouncing the National Rifle Association. And in 1987, he played a benefit concert at Chernobyl. I’ve mentioned previously the pointed judgment by the British music writer John Doran: people who like his politics won’t like his music; people who like his music won’t like his politics (which means that I might be an anomaly). But doesn’t that make John Denver a subject worth further study?

Denver reportedly sent hand-written letters to fans, which I think is very cool indeed. But it’s not Rock ’n Roll. You don’t get Keef or Prince write you personal notes. Real music fans are like women who like bad guys: we don’t tend to go for the nice guys.

John Denver obviously lacked edge; even in his artistic prime, the early ’70s, he produced some awfully saccharine garbage (For Baby with that kids’ chorus, or fucking Jingle Bells). But at his best, John Denver was an extraordinary musician. His music is much more complex than it is being given credit for (witness the chord changes on Jet Plane, the song on which he, ahem, “predicted his death”), and the man had a fine way of phasing his lyrics (again, lisdten to Sunshine On My Shoulders). Denver’s songs have immense warmth as he reflects wistfully on geography, meterology and, of course, love. They have an ageless immediacy. I’m sorry for having misjudged John Denver for so long. If only he had looked a bit more cool, a bit more like John Prine…

John Denver – Poems, Prayers And Promises.mp3
John Denver – Darcy Farrow.mp3
John Denver – Mother Nature’s Son.mp3
John Denver – Annie’s Song.mp3
John Denver – Leaving On A Jet Plane.mp3
John Denver – Sunshine On My Shoulder.mp3
John Denver – Rocky Mountain High.mp3

Previously on Pissing off the Taste Police:
Barry Manilow
Lionel Richie
The Carpenters
Billy Joel
Neil Diamond
America

Great Moustaches in Rock: Oates

July 8th, 2008 10 comments

The great pantheon of frightful and stupid moustaches is populated by hairy scary guys like these geniuses:

And then there was John Oates, modelling the porn school reject ‘tache with perm combo:


It must have been hard for Oates to play second banana to the King of the ’80s Mullet; harder yet if on the LP cover on which Hall & Oates went for the Agnetha and Anni-Frid look, the dude without the ‘tache looks the tougher guy.


There always was something slightly ridiculous about John Oates, lipgrowth and comedy perm aside. He was tiny next to Hall, and he had a need to strike axeman poses with his guitar when all we needed him to be was the other Righteous Brother. That seemed to be his destiny: the perennial sidekick. In Lisa Simpson’s dream Oates even took to the stage as part of a supergroup of “the other guys”, which also featured Art Garfunkel and Jim Messina. It was a bit unfair on Garfunkel and, especially, Messina (who was much more talented than Loggins). But Oates seemed to belong there; Daryl Hall was generally supposed to be the superior talent. Ah, but was he? Have you heard Hall’s solo records? They are crap (Edit: apparently not all crap; see comments). In particular that FIFA World Cup song he recorded. Proof that Oates was the indispensible ingredient in the Hall & Oates recipe, much as nutmeg is in Coca Cola? The poor man was terribly underrated. No wonder he’s staring down the bigger Daryl.


I’m delighted to note that Hall & Oates are now undergoing a critical rehabilitation. Even The Quietus, which can be heartlessly scathing in its critique, has recognised the genius of Hall & Oates. Better than I could, Adam Narkiwiecz expresses all I’d say on the subject. “H&A are up there with the greats,” Narkiewiecz rules, and he is damn right.

Here, then, are a few Hall & Oates songs. The version of Everytime You Go Away is from the live album with David Ruffin and Eddie Kendricks, though the two great Temptations don’t appear on that song. They are, however, represented on Out Of Touch, here as a live version from Live Aid (how brilliantly ’80s are those echo effects?). Your Kiss Is On My List, from the 1980 album that also yielded the original version of Everytime You Go Away, ranks among the duo’s finest moments of the ’80s, while the mid-’70s trilogy of She’s Gone, Sara Smile and Rich Girl serve as a potent reminder that Hall & Oates are essentially a ’70s group, and not the ’80s novelty act some appear to regard them as — usually because of Daryl’s hair and John’s moustache.

EDIT: Ooops, I uploaded the studio version instead of the Live Aid version of Out Of Touch. Below the Live Aid and the studio version. And to make amends, the Live Aid performance of Maneater. (Look out for the Live Aid special next week!)

Hall & Oates – Maneater (at Live Aid).mp3
Hall & Oates – Out Of Touch (at Live Aid).mp3
Hall & Oates – Everytime You Go Away (live).mp3
Hall & Oates – Sara Smile.mp3
Hall & Oates – Your Kiss Is On My List.mp3
Hall & Oates – Out Of Touch.mp3
Hall & Oates – She’s Gone.mp3
Hall & Oates – Rich Girl.mp3
Hall & Oates – Private Eyes.mp3

And do watch the video for She’s Gone. It is a comedy classic.

More great moustaches

Categories: Pop moustaches Tags:

Intros Quiz: 1993 edition

July 3rd, 2008 7 comments

In our five-year interval intros quiz series we reach 1993. As usual, there are 5-7 second intros of 20 songs from that year, for you to guess. I must confess to having cheated a little bit: all were single releases in 1993, as far as I know, except one (number 12), which appeared on an album released in September that year, but didn’t come out as a single until 1994. And even then it was not a big hit. The rest, however, were hits in either the US or UK or both. Number 7 only reached #32 in Britain, but should be well known to anybody who remembers rock music in the ’90s; #17 was a UK Top 30 hit, but is also very well known (certainly to people who listened to the rock station on Grand Theft Auto).

Answers in a few days’ time in the comments section. If you can’t wait to know what that pesky number 6 is, feel free to e-mail me. Actually, feel free to e-mail me anyway; every comment and message is appreciated (on that note, props to Siblingshot blog’s little strop at receiving too few comments).

Intros Quiz – 1993 edition.mp3

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The Beatles – Finally (1981)

July 1st, 2008 4 comments

In our alternate Beatles universe it is 1981. The final Beatles album had been recorded in November and early December 1980 at the Abbey Road studios in London, forcing John to leave his beloved NYC apartment in the Dakota, to which he returned on December 9. The album is released in February 1981.

It had been five years since the release of the previous Beatles album, Alone Again, because John had “retired” for a few years to be a stay-at-home Dad. He talked about his hiatus on the album’s opener, Watching The Wheels. In the meantime, Paul had established his initially stuttering solo career, scoring a million-seller with Mull Of Kintyre. Indeed, the members’ musical styles had diverged so much that the Fab Four knew it would be their final album together.

Paul even held back all his best songs, preferring not to share such universally acclaimed gems as Temporary Secretary and Goodnight Tonight with his bandmates. As a result, Paul’s input into Finally was at odds with the prominence his ego would have demanded normally. Perhaps appropriately, it was perennial third banana George who dominated on that last LP, and it was George who wrote the epitaph to the Beatles’ career, All Those Years Ago.

As always, the mix should fit on to a standard CD-R.

Side 1
1. Watching The Wheels (John Lennon)
2. Crackerbox Palace (George Harrison)
3. Let ‘Em In (Paul McCartney)
4. Blow Away (George Harrison)
5. Girls’ School (Paul McCartney)

Side 2
6. Lady Gaye (Ringo Starr)
7. Beautiful Girl (George Harrison)
8. Nobody Told Me (John Lennon)
9. Silly Love Songs (Paul McCartney)
10. (Just Like) Starting Over (John Lennon)

Side 3
11. With A Little Luck (Paul McCartney)
12. This Song (George Harrison)
13. I’m Losing You (John Lennon)
14. Here Comes The Moon (George Harrison)
15. Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy) (John Lennon)

Side 4
16. Move Over Ms. L. (John Lennon)
17. Woman Don’t You Cry For Me (George Harrison)
18. Coming Up (Paul McCartney)
19. Real Love (John Lennon)
20. All Those Years Ago (George Harrison)

DOWNLOAD


Categories: Beatles, Mix CD-Rs Tags: