Thursday, July 30, 2015

Wait a minute... I've got it... you're an Italian! (Frank Zappa) #444

Frank Zappa Dancin' Fool/ Baby Snakes (CBS, BA 222516, 1979)

Yes - your eyes are not deceiving you - don't call any vegetable, this is a Frank Zappa single!

Not a great one, but anything by Frank is better than 70% of everything else out there.

Dancin' Fool came off the Sheik Yerbouti album and obviously lampoons (skewers might be a better verb) the disco culture as only Frank could. 

It's catchy in its own rite - and was even a hit down at the disco. What a perverse world - Uncle Frank would have enjoyed that irony at the time, fer sure.

Hidden gem: Baby Snakes was also from the parent album. I have no idea what this song is about - something weird I feel and I'm also sure I don't actually wish to know.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

There's calm in your eye (Neil Young) #443

Neil Young Like A Hurricane/ Hold Back The Tears (Reprise, RPS 1391, 1977)

Neil's another one of those album artists who makes some terrific songs that sometimes leak out as singles.

Like A Hurricane is a terrific example, albeit in edited form. 

I'd bet that the record company thought that this would make a great single, rather than Neil.

It has long been a concert highlight and it's longevity is down to those great poetic images and that guitar sound. The long live version I've attached is sublime - one of my favourite cinematic moments (that wind machine!), and a great version from Crazy Horse.

Hidden gem: Hold Back The Tears is also from American Stars And Bars and, yes, a laid back country honk style Neil Young gem.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

A smile upon your face (Yes) #439-442

Yes All Good People/ Your Move (Atlantic, ATL 83, 1971)
Yes America/ Yours Is No Disgrace (Atlantic, ATL 166, 1974)
Yes Don't kill the Whale/ Abalene (Atlantic, 45 1968, 1978)
Yes Roundabout/ All Good People (Atlantic, SD19320EP, 1981)

Yes are not normally associated with singles. Normally Yes are about side long mega epic tales. And yet here are four singles (and no Owner Of A Lonely Heart)!!

Roundabout is the obvious single: a very catchy iconic song that is Yes through and through.

As is All Good People - another catchy Beatles inspired Yes chorus fires this one along. By now it should be obvious why I'm a big Yes fan. 

How big? I own the Don't Kill The Whale single from the fairly dire Tormato album (I drew the line at Drama). Actually the song isn't too bad - it just pales next to these others.

The outlier here is America. A weird choice really. Paul Simon's song is heavily identified with him so Yes having a go at it is a little off to my mind.

Hidden gems: Your Move and Yours is No Disgrace are Yes classic songs and definitely rank in the gem category if not the hidden one. 

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Will time make men more wise? (The Yardbirds) #435-438

The Yardbirds For Your Love/ Got To Hurry (Columbia, DNZ 10408, 1965)
The Yardbirds Heart Full Of Soul/ Steeled Blues (Columbia, DNZ 10426, 1965)
The Yardbirds Shapes Of Things/ You're A Better Man Than I (Columbia, DNZ 10451, 1966)
The Yardbirds Ha Ha Said The Clown/ Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Sailor (Columbia, DNZ 10523, 1967)

Something that is often overlooked when considering the Yardbirds: what a great singles band they were. 

Sadly I've never been able to find a copy of my favourite Yardbirds song - Happenings Ten Years Time Ago c/w Psycho Daisies but both songs are happily on Roger The Engineer so that's okay.

But what I do have are three great Yardbirds singles plus Ha Ha...which I've written about elsewhere on Goo Goo.

For Your Love and Heart Full Of Soul are both from 1965 - the Eric Clapton/Jeff Beck versions of the band respectively. So cool - check out those screaming girls and Keith Relf's shades. Mean.

Shapes Of Things, from 1966, also features Jeff (although the video below has Jimmy Page featuring on 'solo guitar').

All three are brilliant sixties pop singles with edge!

Hidden gems: Got To Hurry, Steeled Blues, both instrumentals, are excellent lopping blues work outs. 

You're A Better Man Than I is the real star B side on offer here though. Real deal - bam! Right there. Attitude aplenty, some wonderful Beckola guitar, great vocals from Relf and some interesting lyrics that remind me of Hendrix's If Six Were Nine. A great, great song! 

I make no apologies for featuring four videos for this post. Which one would you have me leave out???

Monday, July 13, 2015

Electricity still lingers (XTC) #432-434

XTC Science Friction/ She's So Square (Virgin, VS 188, 1977)
XTC Statue Of Liberty/ Hang On To The Night (Virgin, VS 201, 1978)
XTC Generals And Majors/ The Somnambulist (Virgin, VS 365, 1980)

These blokes wrote some stunning singles. Here are three with not even a Making Plans For Nigel in sight.

The clever clogs' one two sucker punch of Science Friction and Statue Of Liberty got me with room to spare at the end of the seventies.

Really what's not to like? Pop hooks, neo punk attitude, great harmonies, two great writers (Andy Partridge and Colin Moulding), spikey rhythms and excellent funny (as in quirky) songs! 

'We're never boring' - that's XTC's motto!

Hidden gems: She's So Square and Hang On To The Night could have been singles in their own write, even though they didn't even make the parent albums (bonus items since inevitably) - an overflowing of ideas typifies both of them. The Somnambulist is an electronic experimental mood piece - not my cuppa. 

Thursday, July 9, 2015

I been good while I been waitin' (Bob Dylan) #431

Ron Wood Seven Days/ Breakin' My Heart (CBS, BA 222550, 1979)

Good old Ronnie eh. He HAS been good while he's been waitin' for his shot. 

I much prefer his work with The Faces to The Stones - there he seems like a superfluous foil for Keef but in The Faces he was the guvnor, even wot wif Rockin' Rod on board.

This is his go at a Dylan song. His rugged vocals are a good match here but it's the groove and the guitar that gets me.

It's off his third solo album - Gimmie Some Neck which features various Stones, Faces, and other stars like Mick Fleetwood. So yeah - it sounds pretty cool. The song builds nicely and gets the most out this (minor) Dylan song from the mid seventies.

Hidden gem: The B side is also a track off the album - bit of a sloppy mess this one though, and not in a good way. A case of too many cooks praps.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

He's like a bottle in water, Harry just floats through life (Bobby Womack) #430

Bobby Womack and Peace Sweet Caroline (Good Times Never Seemed So Good)/ Harry Hippie (United Artists, UAK 4826, 1972)

This is possibly the first time Neil Diamond has warranted a mention on Goo Goo (maybe a Monkees reference...maybe). I'm not a fan. Never have been. Never will be.

ND's solo stuff just leaves me cold. In my mind I link him to Leonard Cohen. Another guy people rave over but I don't get at all!

Don't like their voice or the plodding song structures.

But as it goes, this is okay. It's not overly offensive: a typical ND song in construction but at least Bobby can sing it!

Hidden gem: Actually this is why I bought the single. In truth I thought it was the A side when I bought it as I'd heard it on the radio quite a lot in the early seventies. Turns out DJ's played the B side rather than the Neil Diamond cover. I rest my case!

There is a warmth and honesty that shines through this song - thanks to the fact its become a song to honour Bobby's brother Harry who...well - I'll let Bobby explain:

"Harry was the bass player and tenor for the brothers when we were the Valentinos. He lived a very carefree life. As a child he always said he wanted to live on an Indian reservation. We used to joke about it, but when we got older he was the same way. He always thought I wanted the materialistic things and I said, 'I just want to do my music. My music put me into that comfortable territory.' He didn’t want the pressure. We used to laugh and joke about the song when I’d sing it. When he was brutally killed in my home, it was by a jealous girlfriend who he’d lived with for four years. She fought a lot, violence. And in our home it was considered to be worth less than a man to fight a woman, so he didn’t fight back and she stabbed him to death.
"At the time I was in Seattle doing a gig and he was going to join me when we got back. Previously I had hired a new bass player because I felt it would help [Harry’s] relationship with his partner if he weren’t on the road. And that turned out to be very sour. He ended up losing his life behind it. At that time ['Harry Hippie'] wasn’t a joke anymore; I had lost a brother. I still do that song in his honor today."

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss (The Who) #427 - 429

The Who My Generation/ Substitute (Polydor, POLY 54, 1965/1966)
The Who Won't Get Fooled Again/ Don't Know Myself (Polydor, 2121057, 1971)
The Who You Better You Bet/ The Quiet One (Polydor, POLY 104, 1981)

After the Beatles, the second best singles band of all time? I believe so.

Here are three meaty beaty big and bouncy singles from the mighty 'Oo as evidence for the defence.

The first one is a double A side reissue, from the eighties I'd guess. A one two punch to the solar plexis. Earth shattering in their resonance, they remain a thrill, every time they are heard.

They never get old, age has not wearied them!

If I'm pushed to elect my favourite Who track of all time - it's Won't Get Fooled Again. I suspect I'm not alone!

If you can sit still while this is playing you're in a coma! Every bit of me twitches, nerve endings open up, whirling air guitar histrionics intact, and I just gotta sing it out baby!

The edited version as it appears on this single dispenses with the electronic blips and other bits from the album version. It's in this form a superior radio rock song!

The eighties weren't kind to many bands from the sixties and the Who are no exception, but they did manage two songs that harked back to the glory days (Who Are You was the other). There is a lovely post punky sneer to You Better You Bet.

Hidden gems: Don't Know Myself is a rarity in Wholand as it didn't appear on the parent album (Who's Next as if you didn't know). It is testament to how great that album is that the song couldn't find a place because it's amazing! Maybe it was a bit similar in places  to Bargain (and no way do I want Bargain left off the album).

The Quiet One is anything but - a raging piece of rock noise with all Who DNA present and correct. Vital signs were good in 1981 based on this single.