Sunday, August 31, 2014

My back is broad but it's a hurting (The Rolling Stones) #286-287

Bette Midler  Mother's Eyes/ Chapel Of Love (Atlantic, 45 3771, 1980)

Bette Midler  Beast Of Burden/ Come Back Jimmy Dean (Atlantic, 7-89712, 1983)

Why I have two Bette Midler singles in my collection is a mystery to me, but, have them I do. No disrespect meant to Bette - she's not very rock'n'roll though, is she? The Rose fools no one - it's a movie role!

She's got that brassy-with-a-heart-of-gold image down. A real softy. The real Bette Midler? Who knows who she was.

Mother's Eyes is the kind of thing Bette gravitates towards from time to time - she was born to sing Tom Waits songs (yes I'm aware he didn't write this one but it's very much his territory). This one walks the sentimental tightrope and mostly stays on its feet. There's zero edge to it though (unlike a Tom Waits' song).

Beast is a different, um, animal. As Stones covers go its pretty straightforward and anodyne in its approach-clearly lacking the Stones raunch. Good album track but not really a single. The presence of Jagger in the video doesn't help. His 'acting' is atrocious.

Hidden gems: She usually picks her material very carefully. Sometimes she gets it right (Shiver Me Timbers) but sometimes she strays into over sentimentality (Come Back..) and sometimes she gets into sugary schmaltz (Chapel). Chapel links to my last post as it's the classic Greenwich/Barry writing combo who created it.

Again - why I have these two singles is a mystery. But, have them I do.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Honey doggone it, I depend upon it (Robin McNamara) #285

Robin McNamara  Lay A Little Lovin' On Me/ I'll Tell You Tomorrow (Dot, ZK 3698, 1970)

Robin's big break was teaming up briefly with Jeff Barry-the well known song writing partner of Ellie Greenwich who linked with Phil Spector for a wonderful series of hits. 

Anyway Barry sprinkled just enough gold dust on McNamara in 1970 for him to have his sole hit.

It's a nifty little bubblegum style pop song. It still sounds great!

Hidden gem: No such luck - the B side is the sort of thing that a million people put out in the early 1970's trying to find a hit.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

In every life we have some trouble, when you worry you make it double (Bobby McFerrin) # 284

Bobby McFerrin  Don't Worry Be Happy/ Simple Pleasures, Don't Worry Be Happy (Manhattan 12", 12MT 56, 1988)

Feel good songs, how we love them and Bobby has produced one of the smilingest happiest feel goodest songs of all time. Really.

It's the kind of jaunty infectious sing-a-long that they don't seem to do any more. More's the pity.

The video (watch it, it's cool) has a cameo by the wonderfully gifted Robin Williams, who took his own life a few weeks ago.

What a shame he didn't think to revisit the song and the video-which has an attempted suicide that is prevented by the song's message. Not that it would have helped. Depressed people don't suddenly feel good because of a song do they? Who knows - maybe they do.

Hidden gem: The B side contains another song created solely (souly) by Bobby-not as memorable as the hit A side though.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Help me darling! What does it mean? (Paul McCartney) #280 - 283

Michael Jackson/Paul McCartney The Girl Is MineMichael Jackson Can't Get Outta The Rain (Epic, ES 791, 1982)

Paul McCartney/Michael Jackson Say Say SayPaul McCartney/Michael Jackson Say Say Say (Instrumental); Paul McCartney Ode To A Koala Bear (Parlophone 12", GOOD 19, 1983)

Paul McCartney Press; It's Not True/ Hanglide; Press (Parlophone 12", GOOD 127, 1986)

Paul McCartney Once Upon A Long Ago; Back On My Feet/ Midnight Special; Don't Get Around Much Anymore (Parlophone 12", 12R 6170, 1987)

The eighties were not his finest years. It wasn't until 1989 that he made the decent Flowers In The Dirt. Between that and 1982's Tug Of War it was all dirt.

I have no idea what he was thinking by linking up with Michael Jackson on such pap as The Girl Is Mine and Say Say Say. He didn't need the exposure - he's Paul McCartney of the bloody Beatles. He didn't need the money. He did need a quality controller and MJ is not one of them.

So we got the embarrassing video of Say Say Say and all this sub par music instead!

Press is also dire (from the lacklustre Press To Play album). For a master of melody he suddenly came up short; this one is smothered in eighties drums. Ick!!

The 1987 12" EP is an offshoot of the covers collection known as the Russian Album. The A side pair didn't make the cut for the album and are of rarity value. I wish I could report that they are awesome nuggets from the vaults but I can't. Pleasant is about the best I can say for Once Upon A Long Ago. I include the video only because that's become a routine for these posts - not because it's a stellar piece of work.

Hidden gems: Again I wish I could report that Ode To A Koala Bear was worth searching out. It only appeared as a B side and there are many reasons why. But all you need to know is in the title really. 

The MJ B side is also discolite rubbish btw.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

People who jump waterfalls sometimes can make mistakes (Paul McCartney) #275 - 279

Paul McCartney Coming UpPaul McCartney and Wings Coming Up (Live); Lunch Box/ Odd Sox (Parlophone, NZP 3577, 1980)

Paul McCartney Waterfalls/ Check My Machine (Parlophone, NZP 3579, 1980)

Paul McCartney Ebony And IvoryRainclouds; Ebony And Ivory (Solo version) (Parlophone 12", MPL 1, 1982)

Paul McCartney Take It Away/ I'll Give You A Ring (Parlophone, NZP 3584, 1982)

Paul McCartney Take It AwayI'll Give You A Ring; Dress Me Up As A Robber (Parlophone 12", MPL 2, 1982)

By 1980 Wings were history. The Japanese tour and McCartney II saw to that. One of my least favourite Macca periods of all. Coming Up is a shocker and no attempts at revisionism can disguise that. It proves that he's human amid all the new fangled technology.

Having said that, I do like Waterfalls. An old school ballad. The lyrics are tosh (a castle needs a tower? Oh please!) but it doesn't matter in this context. The melody is a great one and papers over the cracks.

There was a minor Macca renaissance in 1982 (following John's 1980 murder) when the Tug Of War album contained some top material like Take It Away, starring Ringo AND George Martin. Even so we still had to put up with facile dreek like Ebony and Ivory!  

Hidden gems: Zilch (the dearth of interesting B sides reinforces my contention that this was a dire period on the whole).

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Don't say goodnight tonight (Wings) #271 - 274

Wings Goodnight Tonight/ Daytime Nightime Suffering (Parlophone, NZP 3572, 1979)

Wings Goodnight Tonight/ Daytime Nightime Suffering (Columbia 12", 23-10940, 1979)

Wings Getting Closer/ Spin It On (EMI, NZP 3574, 1979)

Paul McCartney Wonderful Christmastime/ Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reggae (Parlophone, R 6029, 1979)

These singles display the (sometimes painful) death throes of Wings and the impending reboot of the (sometimes very painful) Macca solo career.

Goodnight Tonight has quite a good disco style loop. It doesn't come across as any kind of bandwagon hopping exercise now but it did feel a little bit that way in 1979 (like The Rolling Stones' Emotional Rescue). I prefer the overkill of the 12 inch single version.

Getting Closer is from the last Wings album Back To The Egg - parts of which I love. It contains some dire stuff as well.

Wonderful Christmastime is a superb Christmas song - catchy as hell!

Hidden gems: Spin It On is a superb new wave/punkish song, like Soily from my previous posting. It's the type of thing Paul does from time to time (Driving Rain) but not often enough for my liking.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The cat in satin trousers said it's oily (Wings) #266 - 270

Wings Maybe I'm Amazed/ Soily (Parlophone, NZP 3554, 1976)

Linda McCartney Alias Suzy and The Red Stripes Seaside Woman/ B Side To Seaside (A&M, K 8003, 1977)

Wings Mull Of Kintyre/ Girls School (Capitol, CP 610, 1977)

Wings With A Little Luck/ Backward Traveller/ Cuff Link (EMI/Parlophone, NZP 3564, 1978)

Wings London Town/ I'm Carrying (EMI, R 6021, 1978)

A mixed bag this time around as quality control is again an issue. Without Lennon, a genius that was at least an equal to Macca, some dodgy stuff got through along with the great stuff.

Maybe I'm Amazed is a live version from 1976. It's a stand out on the McCartney album and a good rock song in a live set. Not sure if it's a single though.

The Linda song is a vanity project. It's easy to say snide things about her vocal ability and while she is embarrassing on cue here, she did provide some wonderful harmonies in a Wings context.

Mull Of Kintyre was huge, of course, and as a jolly singalong it's hard to fault but it hasn't aged particularly well.

The other two A sides begin the quality slide in earnest. McCartney can sound twee at times - I give you With A Little Luck as exhibit A.

Hidden gems: Soily is a great encore rave up song. Starts out with genuine excitement and doesn't let up. Still sounds punky to my ears. 

Throw a blanket over the other B sides.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Such a human being, so divine (Paul McCartney) #260 - 265

Mike McGear Leave It/ Sweet Baby (Warner Brothers, K 16446, 1974)

Paul McCartney and Wings Junior Farm (sic)/ Sally G (Apple, NZP 3487, 1974)

The Country Hams Walking In The Park With EloiseBridge On The River Suite (EMI, EMI 2220, 1974)

Wings Listen To What The Man SaidLove In Song (Capitol, NZP 3511, 1975)

Wings Letting Go/ You Gave Me The Answer (Capitol, NZP 3521, 1975)

Wings Magneto And Titanium Man/ Rock Show (Capitol, NZP 3524, 1975)

In the mid seventies Paul and Linda started flexing their collective muscles a little bit to share the golden touch with the rest of the McCartney family.

First up is an A side by Paul's kid brother Michael, recording as Mike McGear. Paul and Linda and other Wings members appear to great effect on the song (and the parent album McGear).

It's a damn good song (it charted at the time) and Mike is not overshadowed by his more famous brother. His vocals over the top of Wings' musicianship is a winning combination.

Next up with the family connection is Paul, Linda et al as The Country Hams doing an old song, an instrumental, of his dad's (Jim McCartney). It's a pleasant enough vanity project.

The other A sides come from Macca's band Wings and they are a catchy bunch. I love the bounciness of Listen To What The Man Said and the bravado of Magneto. Letting Go has a wonderful heavy vibe and Junior's Farm (another casualty of NZ sloppy labeling) is a beefy rock track.

Did I say 'catchy'? Not 'alf! Macca can't half spin a toon.

Hidden gems: Sweet Baby by McGear is a gem and it didn't make the album cut (until the bonus track reissue that is) but the most wonderful throwaway B side is Sally G. It's an country shaggy dog story as only our Paulie can do. There was a time when these songs appeared effortless. Now he struggles to come up with a memorable melody. No? Don't agree? Can you sing anything off New for me? Thought not.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

I can't tell you how I feel (Paul McCartney) #255 - 259

McCartney's Wings My Love/ The Mess (Apple, NZP 3453, 1973)

Paul McCartney and Wings Live And Let Die/ I Lie Around (Apple, NZP 3456, 1973)

Paul McCartney and Wings Helen WheelsCountry Dreamer (Apple, NZP 3462, 1973)

Paul McCartney and Wings JetBluebird (Apple, NZP 3466, 1973)

Paul McCartney and Wings Jet/ Let Me Roll It (Apple, NZP 3469, 1973)

Paul and Linda were busy during 1972 - 1973 - singles came from Red Rose Speedway, Band On The Run and a James Bond film. A huge output by today's standards.

Definite quality on display here too. My Love is a great ballad, a great love song in that it's not a sappy sentimental thing but a sincere heart-felt love song to Linda, Live And Let Die is a great Bond theme - all silly bombast and Jet/ Helen Wheels are great rockers. Macca is the complete package over these four A sides. He can do it all.

What great years in the Macca ouevre!

Here's My Love from the funky James Paul McCartney TV special - which I loved when it came on TVNZ. I recorded it on my trusty cassette player at the time, now we have the great youtube to access it all.

Hidden gems: Oh my my - there are definite gems on the B sides. The Mess has only ever been a B side (and then a bonus track to the album Red Rose Speedway). It's a live version of the song that was originally intended for the album when it was going to be a double. I for one am sad it was never an expanded album that was released. I love RRS and having more of it would have been gear fab.

I Lie Around and Country Dreamer were also intended for the double version of RRS and they are both terrific songs. Denny Laine provides a great relaxed vocal on I Lie Around.

Bluebird and Let Me Roll It are from Band On The Run. LMRI is a great Lennonesque rocker. Not sure why New Zealand decided to have two different B sides to Jet, but there you go, they did!