Monday, December 28, 2015

In the bone colored dawn, me and Gypsy Scotty are singin' (John Mellencamp) #498

John Mellencamp Key West Intermezzo (I Saw You First) (Edit)/ Like A Rolling Stone (Mercury, 1996)

Coincidentally I was listening to this and the parent album (Mr Happy Go Lucky) on a road trip recently and it's perfect music for that.

The clip clop rhythm, the great lyrics and the propulsive delivery reeks of road trip!

And there's the witty reference to a Cuban band 'crucifying John Lennon' (a cunningly ambiguous allusion to The Ballad Of John And Yoko, 'member?) 

Hidden gem: His version of Dylan's signature tune is spirited and faithful, as are most versions. 

Everyone who does this song, like The Stones, John Mayer and even Hendrix keep the same essential arrangement. I'm not sure why and I have no idea how else the song could be done - but you'd think someone would have had a different look by now.

Of them all, I think I prefer Dylan's original.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

It doesn't make sense but I wanna be you (Paul McCartney) #496 - 497

Paul McCartney Young Boy/ Looking For You/ Oobu Joobu Part 1 (Parlophone, 1997)
Paul McCartney Jenny Wren/ I Want You To Fly (Parlophone, 2005)

Macca can write these types of A side songs, seemingly, at will. I suspect he got slightly bored with this type of writing and so that explains the Fireman, Liverpool Sound Collage projects and the classical pieces. These other forms are probably far more challenging for him (they are certainly much more challenging to listen to).

But Young Boy is a nifty pop song (I'm stopping short of calling it great) because it sounds so effortless.

Jenny Wren is an attempt to do a Blackbird and because he links them (see the video below) it tends to suffer by comparison. I don't think he's returned to this kind of finger picked style since - I could be wrong - so he must have got it out of his system. 

Hidden gems: Looking For You features Ringo on drums and Jeff Lynne. It wasn't included on Flaming Pie but has appeared as a bonus track since then. I can see why it didn't make the cut - it's a really featureless jam and these things rarely work themselves into gems.

Oobu etc is part of a radio show he did and it's of completist interest only (trust me).

I Want You To Fly wasn't included on the parent album either (the rather under-rated Chaos And Creation In The Backyard). I give him points for trying new things here. This doesn't sound like much else in his catalogue, so points for inventiveness and bravery. It's quite a cool, sinewy song with some great harmony vocals.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Everyone loves you, why should they not? (Aimee Mann) #495

Aimee Mann Red Vines/ Save Me/ Build That Wall/ Momentum (V2 Records, 2001)

Red Vines is my favourite all time Aimee Mann song.

Often the first album you hear of an artist sticks out as a special one in your memory. 

Weirdly, Neil Young's Tonight's The Night album was the first of his that I ever bought, and I love it to bits and pieces. The Beatles Hey Jude compilation was my first purchase of theirs back in 1970 and it's a glorious hodge podge that has a special place in my heart.

Red Vines is like that.

Even though the song has the word 'cigarettes' in the chorus. Now I have a thing about using that word in a lyric. It happens A LOT (especially when you notice it like I do). 

I just don't like it. Smoking is a disgusting habit and it's poison. I love the Star Wars death sticks section when a boy selling them is told via a Jedi mind trick to give them up. Of course, Jedi mind tricks only work on the weak minded. Bless you George Lucas!!

But I digress - Red Vines is a super fine catchy song. It shows off Aimee's considerable vocal and song writing talents superbly.

I also have no idea what she's on about. Sometimes I read it as a piece of nostalgia (those holes in the jar could be literal), it could be about an ex (a lot of her stuff could be), it's also about her (a lot of her stuff is) - there are a lot of first and second person pronouns here.

I do know something though - I never get sick of hearing this song!

Hidden gems: Save Me is great (like Red Vines, it's off parent album Bachelor #2) . Build That Wall has a light touch and Momentum is a rare rocker, both good'uns as well.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Who says you can't be happy all the time? (Lighthouse Family) #492 - 494

Lighthouse Family Lost In Space/ High (Live)/ Raincloud/ High (Remix) (Polydor, 1998)
Lighthouse Family (I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be) Free/ You're A Star/ (I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be) Free (Remix) (Polydor, 2001)
Lighthouse Family Happy/ High/ Whatever Gets You Through The Day/ She Moves In Her Own Way (video) (Polydor, 2002)

I love Lighthouse Family. I don't care if that's not trendy or hip or whatever. 

The soul vocal/techno beat combo is generally a winning one for me. Certainly the chemistry between Paul Tucker and Tunde is exceptional.

Lost In Space is from the second album (Postcards From Heaven). A nice song but not a single I wouldn't have thought.

Free is an incredible song. An all time favourite!

Happy is a cool idea, a cool song! Tunde's effortless vocal style is a perfect match for Paul Tucker's sounds on this track. 

This is the perfect song for me right now, being in London an all!

Hidden gems: High (on the Happy single) has an infectious beat. Makes me high!! I love the lyrics too - a great song! This ten minute plus version is taken at a faster pace with those beats accentuated. It works!

Same with the 7 plus minute version of Free. Beats, isolates the vocal track and then goes free form. Love it!

You're A Star, like Whatever gets You Through The Day, is from the parent albums: great songs - worthy of A sidehood in their own right.

The acoustic version of High is as snugly as a warm blanket.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Imagine all the people sharing all the world... (John Lennon) #490 - 491

John Lennon Imagine/ Happy Xmas (War Is Over)/ Give Peace A Chance/ Imagine (video) (Parlophone, 1999)

Is there anyone on the planet who hasn't heard Imagine at some point?

You haven't?? Inconceivable...but you're in luck! Check out what genius sounds like below.

BTW - this is the sixth entry for Imagine on Goo Goo. Check out this for the other five! 

Hidden gems: A weird combination of tracks on the B side - versions of two other hits from the Lennon Legend compilation.

John Lennon/ Dog Soldier Incantation/ Let's Spend The Night Together/ Answer Me My Love (CG Publishing Inc, 1975)

The Dog Soldier tracks were from sessions in 1975. 

John wrote Incantation with Roy Cicala and produced and arranged the three tracks with Roy - his engineer.

Yoko let a writer (Kristofer Engelhardt) have the tracks to augment his book (Beatles Undercover).

FYI: Dog Soldier were actually the backup band John used on the Lew Grade TV special (the ones with the two faced masks (hahaha).

Incantation itself has some similarities to his gift to Johnny Winter of Rock And Roll People and Dog Soldier nicely fits the Elephant Memory band brand of New York rock.

Hidden Gems: Let's Spend The Night Together is, yes, the Rolling Stones song and it's a pretty terrific version - soulful and worthy! Go figure. 

Answer Me My Love is an okay Labelle style disco/Motown hybrid.

You'll have to take my word for all this - as there is nothing available on the video channels.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Now you're in a wonderama (Alison Krauss) #489

Alison Krauss + Union Station Let Me Touch You For Awhile (radio edit)/ Let Me Touch You For A While (album version) (Rounder, 2001)

This song gets under your!

There are so many plus points: her voice, the simplicity, the way it builds, the innocence (she doesn't mean that kind of touch), the Union Station acoustic guitars and bluegrass hints from the dobro.

And, I love songs that sort of stop start and keep coming back to a central motif. 

Hidden gem: This is a radio promo so not for sale and therefore you get 10 more seconds of the song, but that's cool. I have no problem listening to the song twice.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

You don't pull my strings (The Kooks) #488

The Kooks She Moves In Her Own Way/ In My Opinion/ Give In/ She Moves In Her Own Way (video) (Virgin, 2006)

The youngsters in The Kooks are clearly Beatle fans. 

Generally they're a McCartney band, rather than a Lennon band or a Harrison band. Do you know what I mean?

If you like Macca's pop smarts, forget like... love Macca's pop smarts, like I do, then you'll find something to love in The Kooks' best work.

She a great little unpretentious pop song!

Hidden gems: A cool reggae vibe pops into In My Opinion, and Give In has a great acoustic bed in which to develop a simple love song.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Santa's got a bullet in his gun (The Killers) #487

The Killers Don't Shoot Me Santa/ Don't Shoot Me Santa (video)  (Island, 2007)

Weird weird weird. 

Brandon Flowers and crew construct a bizarre song involving a homicidal Santa Claus.

So not a charming Christmas ditty to warm your cockles then. Instead a psycho drama that I guess he needed to get off his lips (hips?). Well it is by The Killers after all!

Yes, bizarre, but fiendishly catchy and the man has great pipes!

This single was left behind by one of my children and I have not wanted to chuck it away for good reason. I hate throwing anything like this away - books, CDs, records, magazines. The hoarder in me.

Hidden gem: No actual B side, instead you get the video.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Don't wanna hold hands and talk about our little plans alright! (Jet) #486

Jet Cold Hard Bitch/ Everlovin' Man/ Ain't That A Lotta Love/ You Don't Look The Same (demo)/ Cold Hard Bitch (live)  (Capitol, 2004)

Generally, the Aussies do hard rock well: Cold Chisel; AC/DC; Midnight Oil; Stevie Wright; Wolfmother; Skyhooks; Silverchair all have long established places in my collection. 

Jet aren't at that level but for a while they were genuine contenders based on their first album Get Born.

Actually, it was the McCartney/Wings style ballad Look What You've Done that got my initial interest but that turned out to be an aberration.

Cold Hard Bitch is in the classic rock style of standout track Are You Gonna Be My Girl? and the rest of that debut album. Which is to say - it's pretty full frontal grunty guitar riff rawk and I like it! If you can ignore the lyrics you're fine.

Hidden gems: It's a ratty rag bag of sloppy live, amateurish demo and sub par unreleased tracks on the B side. 

If forced to pick a stand out track I'd go for the Deep Purpleisms of Everlovin' Man, even down to the title!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Things seem different today (Idlewild) #485

Idlewild You Held The World In Your Arms/ Distant History/ I Was Made To Think It (Parlophone, 2002)

I wanted to like Idlewild so much! There was so much going for them: altpop punk smarts; great guitars; Scotland! 

So I bought the first two albums and the third - the parent one to YHTWIYA (The Remote Part).

The problem, I think, is the lack of a smash tune. In my defence - it worked for Snow Patrol!

You a good toe tapping song but a minute after it's finished I can't remember the melody. Which is a pain, because I really want to like them.

Hidden gems: Neither of the B sides are from The Remote Part. Neither distinguish themselves enough to be gems but Distant History gets marks at least for being at a different pace!

Saturday, November 14, 2015

The future needs some firm direction (House Of Love) #483 - 484

The House Of Love   Never/ Soft As Fire/ Safe  (Fontana 12", 1989)

The House Of Love You Don't Understand/ Sweet Anatomy/ Kiss The Fountain/ 3rd Generation Liquid Song  (Fontana, 1992)

Never came from The House Of Love's second album (the one with the butterfly on the cover). It was the first single (of four) off the album and didn't really trouble the charts at the time.

Never-the-less it's a terrific song. 

I was lucky to find a copy of the 12" vinyl at Slow Boat Records a few weekends ago. It has a terrific cover with Guy Chadwick looking suitably enigmatic/broken-hearted - take your pick! The guy who tallied up my purchases remarked what a great selection of vinyl I'd found! Yeah man!

Back to Never: it has those instant House Of Love touches - dreamy pop played with passion and skill. Guy's voice is instantly recognisable.

You Don't Understand is the first song I ever heard by the band (lead track on their third album Babe Rainbow) and it was instant love at first hearing.

Hidden gems: All the B sides are non album tracks, although Never's B sides are compiled on A Spy In The House Of Love.

Kiss The Fountain is an alternative arrangement of You Don't Understand - a slow grind with menace. Wonderful!

But all are wonderful! I don't think Guy could actually make a duff track if he tried. Bold claim? You be the judge.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Hallelujah (George Harrison) #482

George Harrison My Sweet Lord/ Let It Down/ My Sweet Lord (2000)  (EMI, 2001)

A CD single revisit for George's great solo single.

I don't care about the plagiarism, this is quality! 

Those acoustic guitars lay down a beautiful bed of melody for George's vocals and his distinctive electric guitar sound.

A wonderful song that achieves an exultant mood! Enough said (but if you want more try me here).

Hidden gems: My real reasons for getting the single are of course on the B side. Let It Down is a cool acoustic demo version that is full of George's humour and warmth.

The My Sweet Lord 2000 version uses different musicians, a different vocal and adds a lot more slide guitar and some sitar and serves them all up as an alternative take on this great song. 

It works in spectacular fashion too, and is even more poignant given George didn't have long to live when he recorded it (he died in 2001). For much much more on the song go here.

Friday, November 6, 2015

I beg to dream and differ from the hollow lies (Green Day) #480 - 481

Green Day Holiday/ Minority (live) (Reprise, 2004)
Green Day Boulevard Of Broken Dreams/ American Idiot (live)/ She's A Rebel (live)  (Reprise, 2004)

You've got to admire the energy and enthusiasm from Green Day. And longevity.

Their problem was always going to be how to retain their teenage angst shtick into middle age/middle career maturity without seeming contrived and they seem to have done well.

Boulevard and Holiday come from the American Idiot album which I really like. Both songs have got spunk and are catchy. And are actually fairly standard rock songs. 

Usually, when I don't think about it, I tend to associate the band with standard punk pace but that's unfair and in truth they have always been more than that. 

These two are nuanced and nothing like a punk thrash. Holiday even has a guitar solo!! Fab!

Hidden gems: Both live versions on the Boulevard B side are worthy! They are different enough to the studio versions to be interesting.

Minority is a live version as well. It sounds a tad like The Pogues and I'm not a Pogues fan.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Some things you do you can never repair (David Gray) #479

David Gray Wisdom/ Lovers/ 4am  (VC Records, 1993)

Wisdom is VERY early David Gray (breakthrough album White Ladder was five years away).

Included on the debut album A Century Ends (always thought that was a weird title, it makes no sense given it came out in 1993), Wisdom is a decent mid paced rocker and a worthy single attempt. 

The problem with early David Gray is that he sounded like hundreds of other folk rock singers.

The David Gray voice is present and correct on Wisdom, but there's no audible X factor to the song/album. That wouldn't happen until White Ladder and the purple patch from 1998 to 2005 (since then he's retreated in reach, although 2014's Mutineers showed some stirrings of things more interesting again).

I acquired the single along with all the pre White Ladder albums because of that album's brilliance but aside from a few individual songs, none of the albums come close to indicating he had White Ladder inside him.

I'll keep buying his post Slow Motion albums though - you never know...1998 to 2005 wasn't a fluke!

Hidden gems: Nope - both songs eventually surfaced on a singles compilation (The EPs 1992 - 1994) but neither are memorable and gems would be a misnomer.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

I only fly away (Nelly Furtado) #478

Nelly Furtado I'm Like A Bird/ Party (Reprise)/ My Love Grows Deeper/ My Konos/ I'm Like A Bird (video) (Dreamworks, 2000)

Nelly has the X factor on I'm Like A Bird

It's damn catchy and it appeals to me from a lyrical point of view, although I'm constant in my love where she's warning of the opposite. 

It's the feeling of rootlessness that gets me. I like the wistful tone she sets up in the chorus. I don't know where my soul is, I don't know where my home is

Hmmm. She manages to tap into a modern zeitgeist/ conundrum - whether to settle an settle down or whether to explore. She means in a relationship. I'm taking a wider view.

Ultimately Nelly will opt for the adventure and so will I.

Hidden gem: Not sure if they are gems but the B side tracks are playful and delightfully experimental in musical approach. the video to the A side is a nice bonus.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

I was good, she was hot (The Fratellis) #477

The Fratellis Chelsea Dagger/ Dirty Barry Stole The Bluebird (Fallout, 2006)

I must confess - not my CD single this - instead one a daughter left behind after leaving home. 

Why did I keep it? Probably for the start which is promising - sounds like Queens Of The Stone Age before we get the hook and then the movement into leery lager lads territory.

No denying it's catchiness but it's also kinda forgettable as well. Three minutes after playing it I forget how it goes.

Sadly that QOTSA promise in the bass and guitar riff doesn't have the back up from the lyrics department: I was good, she was hot? Really?

The video is entirely predictable.

Hidden gem: Not this time, sorry.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The feeling took me down (Embrace) #476

Embrace Nature's Law/ Deliver Me/ Collide (Independiente, 2006)

I have a soft spot for Embrace. The vocals (Danny McNamara) and brotherly harmonies are big reasons. I'm a sucker for big gooey group harmonies that are this good.

Embrace tend to specialise in great piano lead ballads and great guitar lead pop. 

Nature's Law is a case in point. Starts off piano ballad and then morphs into guitar pop for the chorus. Not their best song by any stretch but still a cut above the norm. 

BTW - I've got slightly out of alphabetical order here - my CD singles are catalogued with the parent albums and not on their own like the vinyl singles - hence I'm going to miss some along the way and need to catch up from time to time. My bad!

Hidden gem: Guitar pop rules on the B sides. Again - not their best songs but worthy all the same.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

What a life I lead in the spring (Fleet Foxes) #475

Fleet Foxes Sun Giant/ Drops In The River/ English House/ My Konos/ Innocent Son (Sub Pop, 2008)

This five track EP - called Sun Giant, is a weird one. It actually came out BEFORE the debut album, but was recorded AFTER it.

If you know Fleet Foxes, you'll know what you're in for with the title track: pure harmonic brilliance that sounds like it came by way of a medieval cloister in the 15th century then became morphed by slave work songs and English rose folk singers.

Yes - that's right, like nothing else you've ever heard!

Hidden gem: The ethereal high jinks continue on the B side tracks. Gems abound. Shock horror: Drops In The River almost rocks!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Still no end in sight though I travel far and wide (Neil Finn) #474

Neil Finn She Will Have Her Way/ Faster Than Light/ Identical Twin (Parlophone, 1998)

Nil Fun has featured a lot so far in the singles countdown: as a member of Split Enz, as a Crowded Houser and now as a solo person.

Really this song could have been a Crowded House or Finn Brothers single. He has such a clearly identifiable sound.

A sound that borrows from the best in the universe. The Harrisonesque guitar and Beatle harmonies are intact on SWHHW: a pleasant song with a lovely hook that centres around the title.

Hidden gem: Both tracks are also from the parent album (Try Whistling This); Identical Twin was subsequently added as a bonus track. 

Neither stands out particularly - they are just superior songs, done by a master musician. Stuff this effortless takes a load of work!

Friday, October 9, 2015

We've got something (Evermore) #471 - 473

Evermore Slipping Away/ Oil And Water/ Pick Yourself Up/ Tears/ Colours Bursting (Warner Music, 2002)
Evermore Hold On/ My Own Way/ What's inside/ The Same As You/ So Fine (Warner Music, 2003)
Evermore Unbreakable/ Real Life (live)/ It's Too Late (live)/ Running (live) (Warner Music, 2006)

Evermore are a New Zealand band, originally made up of the three Hume brothers from down the road in Feilding (okay - actually about 90 minutes away to be more precise); drummer Dann left in 2012.

When they were a threesome
Their harmonic pop sound and Jon's soaring vocals are easy to like. 

The Oil and Water EP has Slipping Away as its lead off batter. The classic Evermore sound is there from the get go: those vocals, inventive pop arrangements, the Hume brother harmonies, singalong choruses, great musicianship, great production!

Hold on, off the My Own Way EP is a rock song with a sneery almost (almost) punk attitude. Blimmin' great song too!

Unbreakable comes from my favourite Evermore album: Real Life. A purple period (before the overblown Truth Of The World), the band were on fire with insanely catchy songs. Unbreakable itself knows it. A new confidence is evident. The sound is bigger. The song is huge! it's...UN-BREAK-ABBBBBLLLLLEEEEEEEE.

Hidden gems: The title song on Oil and Water is a gem but so are all these tracks! None, btw, including the A side, made the debut album Dreams! The boys move on fast. What is noteworthy are the guitar chops of the insanely talented Jon Hume! Tears and Colours...are, um, bursting with ideas! 

Same deal with the other My Own Way songs - this could side two of the unofficial pre Dreams album! My Own Way itself is a standout though! And then there's So Fine - a brilliant slab of attitude and driving riff rock noise that The Datsuns would love to call their own!

All of the live tracks on the Unbreakable Live EP are gems. Running is such a great song. All this and these CD singles still don't include my favourite all time Evermore song! That would be Light Surrounding You. Now that's entertainment folks!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Goddamn right it's a beautiful day (The Eels) #468 - 470

The Eels Cancer For The Cure/ Everything's Gonna Be Cool This Christmas/ Exodus Part III (Dreamworks, 1998)
The Eels Last Stop: This Town/ Funeral Parlor/ Novocaine For The Soul by Moog Cookbook (Dreamworks, 1998)
The Eels Mr. E's Beautiful Blues/ Birdgirl On A Cell Phone/ Hospital Food (Live) (Dreamworks, 1999)

The background to the album Electro-Shock Blues (where these first two songs come from) is really harrowing. 

After three deaths (father,mother and sister) E found himself the only member of his family. 

His decision to write and sing about his situation on Electro-Shock Blues means much of the album is pretty bleak. But he's a very gifted writer and his black humour and way with a tune makes these songs not only heartfelt but highly listenable (go figure).

Cancer For The Cure clearly targets his mother's death but in an oblique way (if that makes sense). The weird metallic machine effects soundtrack what the Big Chief in Ken Kesey's One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest hears. Then the song gets into its rhythm and some wild organ. All up - an unlikely, but effective singalong!

Last Stop: This Town is a jaunty number musically while the lyrics are another matter - You're dead but the world keeps spinning.

The third single in this set is from the third album (and I think their best): Daisies Of The Galaxy. E is still crafting superb songs - always catchy and pithy (full to the brim of pith), but now more playful and sunnier in tone. Mr. E's Beautiful Blues is a case in point - a fine rock song; E's vocals are brilliant.

Hidden gems: This time all the B sides are non album tracks (or live). Of them Funeral Parlor is a real hidden gem - second track on a CD single! It's only short but it punches above its weight. Likewise Birdgirl On A Cell Phone.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

This paint-by-numbers life Is fucking with my head (The Eels) #463 - 467

The Eels Novocaine For The Soul/Guest List/Fucker (Dreamworks, 1996)
The Eels Rags To Rags/Spunky/Animal (Dreamworks, 1996)
The Eels Susan's House/ Stepmother/ Manchester Girl (Dreamworks, 1997)
The Eels Your Lucky Day In Hell/ Susan's Apartment/ Mental/ Altar Boy (Dreamworks, 1997)
The Eels Novocaine For The Soul (live from hell)/ Manchester Girl/ My Beloved Mad Monster Party/ Flower (Dreamworks, 1997)

According to E, main man of The Eels, "Rather than sound like The Beatles I wanted to do as The Beatles did. They soaked up everything around them at the time, and then put their own stink on it". Great aspirations and job done on these four singles + EP off the debut album - Beautiful Freak..

Having said that, it was Beatle inventiveness, melody and spirit that is most definitely present and correct and what drew me to the band in the first place. 

The A side in each case is a standout from the album (yet still doesn't include my favourite all time Eels song - Flower).

Novocaine was an early favourite. E is a brilliant lyricist - Jesus and his lawyer are coming back!

Rags to Rags is a terrific fuzz tone rocker.

Susan's House is a flat out unbelievable song with a great set of stories on the way to Susan's house, and Butch on drums is superb.

Your Lucky Day In Hell keeps the quality control on high. Effortlessly, E crafts a great 10cc style pop song!

Finally in this set - The Novocaine...Flower CD single came with my copy of the album. They are all BBC Radio 1 versions. It's a great version of Novocaine - spoken rather than sung and pretty damn awesome!

Hidden gems: ...everywhere you turn on these CD singles. E was mining a rich vein during the Beautiful Freak sessions. Guest List, Spunky, Mental are standout album tracks. 

Fucker was not on the album but could easily have been (hey it could have been a double!). Great pay off line - I hate you - fucker, is delivered full of nuance (think Billy Bragg and his version of Walk Away Renee).

Animal ditto! Haunting piano and close miked E get inside your head.

Stepmother and the live version of Manchester Girl pull no punches - by now E's fearlessness has been well proven.

The BBC live version of Flower strips away the choral synth part (which I adore) and goes for a stripped back version. Makes it sound like a field recording from the 19th century - superb!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

I'm walking through streets that are dead (Bob Dylan) #462

Bob Dylan Love Sick (Live)/ Can't Wait (Live)/Million Miles (Live)/Cold Irons Bound (Live) (Columbia, QLT 41473, 1999)

I'm not sure how I happened upon this - maybe it came with a CD as a bonus?

The label says 'demonstration-not for sale' which indicates I may have got it second hand after a reviewer sold it but that's unlikely. I don't recall.

I'm not a Dylanologist by any stretch - clue: I have all the classic albums but not Self Portrait (I sold a vinyl copy in a purge many years ago) or the last half dozen or so albums after Time Out Of Mind so that kind of tells you a story.

Why not the latest albums? Actually it's the voice and the stream of blues infused songs (weird - I love blues songs generally and I love his sixties and seventies voice).

Love Sick is okay apart from being pretty depressing until the last line payoff.

Hidden gems: nope - these aren't the droids you're looking for, move along, nothin' to see here...

It's me - not him, I get that. He's a genius and beyond petty criticism. It's just that these songs don't move me or speak to me like all the material on Hard Rain, Blood On The Tracks and Desire. Not His fault!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

You've got to believe it'll be alright again (Duran Duran) #461

Duran Duran What Happens Tomorrow/(Reach Up For The) Sunrise (Sony/BMG, 875650 1, 2004)

My wife was a big Duran Duran fan back in the day but actually I inherited this CD single (twenty years later) from one of my daughters. And it's a pretty cool pop song with hints of the Britpop that was current in the 1990s and into the new millennium.

It actually doesn't sound much like DD though. If it came on the radio you'd struggle to identify the band. There's even a whiff of (poppier) Oasis about it to my mind.

Hidden gem: Yes! A gem and this time - it's Simon LeBon's vocals that clue you into the band's identity. There's a nice hint of classic DD in other words.

Both videos are included because the songs are cool, and the videos have always been an integral part of the Duran Duran story.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

You, you and me we take a ride on a rocket ship (The Datsuns) #458 - 460

The Datsuns Harmonic Generator (Live)/ Sittin' Pretty (Live)/ Fink For The Man (Live)/Little Bruise/O Woe Is Me/Freeze Sucker (V2/Hell Squad, V2CP 151, 2003)
The Datsuns System Overload/ Don't Shine Your Light On Me/Killer Bees (EMI/Hell Squad, 3769472, 2006)
The Datsuns Stuck Here For Days/ Kick And A Bang/Sky Is Falling/One Eye Open (EMI/Hell Squad, 3697302, 2006)

The Datsuns have been on a wild rocket ship ride and I've been there every (rocky) km of that ride. They started while at Cambridge High School (where I was Deputy Principal) and one of the band's brothers was good friends with my eldest son. Somewhat bizarrely, that connection has given me a personal investment in their progress.

The Harmonic Generator EP has Live At Radio 1 versions of tracks from the debut album - a wide eyed exciting selection of songs. The EP leads off with Harmonic Generator so I'll treat that as the A side.

For me it's one of the weaker songs on the debut. Which tells you how great the debut album is - yet to be bettered by the boys actually.

System Overload is well named - too much going on - it's loud but not especially coherent.

Stuck Here For Days is like System - from Smoke and Mirrors. It's got a cool early Led Zep vibe going on.

Hidden gems: Fink For The Man and Freeze Sucker are two personal favourites (along with MF From Hell) and they are delivered brilliantly on these radio sessions. EXCITING!!!!

Killer Bees is not on parent album (Smoke and Mirrors) but probably should have been - it's a ragey little number (btw Don't Shine Your Light...was also a non starter on the album - in that case a better decision).

Kick and a Bang is also a rager and would also have been a welcome addition to Smoke and Mirrors but wasn't included for some reason. Strange. What's going on guys?

The other two tracks on the EP are also absent from the parent album, but again - no great loss.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

It's the same room but everything's different (Crowded House) #457

Crowded House Distant Sun/ Walking On The Spot/ When You Come (Live)/Skin Feeling/Weather With You (Live) (EMI, 8809962, 1993)

The older I get the more I see Beatle clues in The Crowdies songs, the older Nil Fun gets the more he takes on a McCartneyesque post Wings persona.

In that the catchy amazing chunes of his Enz and Crowded House daze (read Beatle/Wings era) recede more and more into a wonderful past and the more a barren melody run stretches on and on.

Is it a case of been there dun that, don wanna do it no more? I don't know but it sure is a puzzler how these great men refuse to toe the genius line into their post mega selling output.

Distant Sun sounds like a Macca outtake circa Red Rose Speedway. That's a good thing btw. It's a cool song and a stand out from Together Alone.

Hidden gems: Most of the B sides are from Together Alone including the feeble Paul Hester effort Skin Feeling. Poor bloke - being in a band with Paul McCartney...oops - I mean Neil Finn.

The real hidden gem here is the live version of Weather With You: one of my fav CH songs. The crowd singalong is pretty good in this loose-ish version. Let's face it though - any version of this kiwi classic is pretty fine!

Friday, September 11, 2015

The hero knew what he had to do (David Crosby) #456

David Crosby Hero/ Coverage/ Fare Thee Well (Atlantic, a7360CD , 1991)

The Croz!

David Crosby can write some jaw droppingly quirkily magnificent songs - pick anything on the first classic solo album (If I Could Only Remember My Name) or anything done as a Byrd or his stuff on the first albums of CSN and CSN&Y.

You're right - that's all stuff before 1971! 

Since then it's been a little more spotty in the jaw droppingly quirky department. 

This track came from the Thousand Roads album, which I quite like actually, but which sounds a lot like a Graham Nash album with the Croz's vocals replacing Nash's. 

Hero is a nice catchy song and having Phil Collins on it at his gazillion mega selling peak doesn't exactly hurt.

Hidden gems: Both these are not included on the parent album. Both are fine songs but both suffer even more from a dose of the Graham Nash association. 

Don't get me wrong - I'm a fan of Graham but I do miss those jaw droppingly quirkily magnificent songs. Instead David sounds cool (as always) but it's a normal cool as opposed to the weird cool that I REALLY love!